Monsoon has set in, it's raining all around. A cyclonic wave of virtual sessions is also in the air.
Self-proclaimed experts sermonising on COVID 19, doctorates from WhatsApp University prescribing varied nushka to keep Corona away. In all this, the appropriate authorities are shouting their lungs out to make people listen to the factual and logical messages, but mostly going unheard. While brands are making hay while the Corona shines, the populace propagating the impact of the deadly virus to mankind with their individualistic colouful fabrications, keeping themselves and their gullible audience busy. It is a kind of digital diarrhoea that one is having to cope up with. And webinars are at their torrential best too! Did I hear someone sing, Webinars go away, come again another day?
In these days of extended or renewed lockdowns, forced distancing – physical or social as you choose to accept it as - digital closeness is the only way to stay in touch and cope with the pace of work. Work-from-Home being the new normal, webinars are the best way out. Agree 100%. But the pain point is, most of the webinars are being organised either to prove a point that a day’s deliverable matrix is done and dusted, or to be at a competitive advantage on the number of webinars that one has done. Honestly, many of these do not serve as stimulant to the grey cells.
Often, multiple webinars come with overlapping topics and with common panellists many times. Even if ensuring on different days and time slots, they become not only boring but terribly tiring as well. The more one is compelled to attend, the more one’s interest level drops. As people go by the trend, the innumerable webinars are on COVID-19 now. Relevant, they could be. But overdose of anything is bad. Ditto with webinars. To justify the duration and make it up on the content, misleading facts and data are dished out. The onus is on the organisers to be judicious in selecting bona-fide panellists and remember that content is king!
I guess topics like corona, crisis, trying time, resilience, stress, et al are now over played. New normal is no longer new now. The discussions are mostly generic and at macro levels. The focus can be more on quantifiable measures to overcome losses, innovative ways to revive the economy, coping up with job losses and how to create jobs. Or even topics that has nothing to do with pandemic, but diverse topics relating different professions and subjects. They should have significant content that can manifest into a long-time dossier or manual for learning and execution. Not that these are not touched upon in webinars, but far few in numbers. My basic point is, constructive discussions on concrete and tangible remedial processes should be encouraged, instead of deliberating on the crisis, time and again. What’s the point in reiterating that the sun rises in the east!
A webinar should not be just one of the many random sessions which ultimately take a toll on one’s mental health; as if the lockdown triggered stress any less for all. Attendees log in, and then mute microphone, shut the camera and carry on with whatever they feel is better to do. This is also evident from the fact that hardly any queries come forward to the speaker or panel making the ‘absolutely necessary’ webinar fruitless. And fortunately, if all diligently attended, one ends up with watery eyes, ear, and head aches, added stress and with no or little education from it. Much ado about nothing?
It is understandable that fresh topics and ideas cannot be generated every second day, but usefulness and applicability of the webinar to the audience should also be kept in mind. Why should we indulge in numbers game with no substance? Small wonder, the panellists themselves could turn out to be the audience! But there are beneficial webinars indeed, with substantial takeaways from the training and development perspectives for sure. Whether for students or professionals, these online courses and programmes turn out to be meaningful if the content and faculties are chosen prudently.
Organisers should aim in raising the bar of their webinars for greater outreach and better outcome, through a professional approach. Most of the webinars do not tell any story but run a dry PPT presentation, where the presenter just reads out the script rather than connecting with the audience’s psyche. Too much of data and content on slides, make the audience lose attention and de-focused. Ideally, a webinar with PPT should not go beyond 20-30 minutes, giving an elbow room for Q&As. Also, a session should not last more than an hour, even if the webinar has a dynamic speaker who is an authority on the subject, or for a knowledgeable panel of three with a moderator and QnAs, fifteen minutes more.
Webinars should not rain, but reign supreme with quality content and not just for hastening to tick off one on the list! (The author is Head Corporate Communication, L&TMRHL)