The Do’s and ​​​​​​​Don’ts of running a webinar for your online community

Over the last few months, I have had a lot more facilitators enquire about hosting webinars for their online groups on the Knowledge Hub.

I’ve been hosting different forms of webinars for a number for years so I have some experience but I’m not the best. So rather than me just rolling off my experience of hosting webinars, we decided to host an online chat. 

What’s an online chat you ask?  Well, it’s based on the concept of a Twitter chat where we use a group forum instead of Twitter.

For me, an online chat is one of the best techniques that you can use for community building. Our topic was “The Do’s and Don’ts of running a webinar for your group” and it ran over a three-hour period.

This is longer than what I normally would do but I thought it would be a popular topic, which it was with 61 posts, just under 300 views and another 36 members watching.

With 5 questions asked over the course of the online chat, here are some of highlights…


Q1. Brainstorm: Can you come up with a range of specific uses for webinars for your group?

  • Walkthroughs / Demonstrations
  • Case studies
  • Updates
  • Interviews
  • How to sessions
  • Training
  • Document discussions
  • Presentations
  • Research


Q2. What technology have you used (hosted, presented the webinar or participated in) and what did you like, dislike about it?  If you can't remember the technology used.  What did you like dislike about it?

Here are some of the systems people have been using and what they liked about them

  • Go to webinar – booking system, recording, polls and surveys
  • Join me – easy to use, recording
  • Lync – lots of people have it in their organisation
  • Pow wow now – free for simple screensharing
  • Skype – free or have it as part of Skype for business
  • Google Hangouts – going live, recording and video chat
  • Web Ex - booking system, recording, polls and surveys


Q3. When preparing for the webinar, what are your key actions and what should you avoid doing?


“If possible, I like to set up a quick test run to make sure people can access the webinar. As presenter, I think it’s always good to log in about 15-20 mins before the start time to avoid any last minute technical glitches”. Dimple


“I like to log on and give myself sufficient time before the scheduled start time to ensure that everything is working and I can connect etc. Joscelyn”


“Book a quiet place to take part and avoid any background noise disrupting the session. It might help to see if you can mute people or individuals while the presenter is talking, and then open up the call for others to join in the conversation.” Dimple


Q4. When your running / presenting a webinar, what are the key things to do and what must you avoid doing?


“Have a print-out of running order and any other helpful notes to keep you focussed and on-track”. Paul


“Be Cool and don't panic. The more you panic the more you forget, especially when you have a few buttons to press”. Michael


“Advise attendees whether they will be able to submit questions (typed or spoken) throughout, or whether these will be answered at the end (or following), to manage expectations and help the session run smoothly”. Paul


Q5. A lot of people forget about the after part of webinars.  What are some of the good practices you can do and what should you avoid?


“Send a follow up message to recap or signpost to relevant info or the recording”. Dimple


“If you said that you are going to share the presentation or recording that you do it within a few days. The quicker the better”. Michael


Webinars can be a very powerful tool for your online community and can be used in lots of different ways.

A key issue is always going to be the choice of technology that you use. There will always be someone who cannot access it or finds that the audio does not work for them.

But with a bit of perseverance, it can lead to exciting things for your group, further discussion, new topics and members wanting to present to the rest of the community.

A while back I created a playbook for facilitators on the Knowledge Hub that showcases some of the different techniques and tools that you can use within your group. Webinars is one of these techniques and we listed out some ideas to help you when hosting a webinar.


Preparation of webinar presentation material

  • Use different visuals to keep people’s attention
  • As a rule of thumb use one slide for every 2-4 minutes
  • Always include a photo of the presenter
  • Show a slide while you’re taking questions.


During the Webinar

  • Keep a hard copy of the presentation in front of you
  • Provide a PDF copy of the presentation to attendees
  • Let your participants know how to mute their phones
  • Set the rules on how and when to ask questions


After the Webinar

  • Send a follow up email to participants thanking them
  • Provide instructions on how to access any materials
  • Respond to any questions that were not answered
  • Review and respond to feedback


So why not give it a try with your group and set up a webinar?


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