ACR Hawaii First Experience with Webinars – 4 Lessons Learned

On October 31, 2013 we (ACR Hawaii board members) were very excited to run our first webinar. It was titled The Power of Apology in Mediation, and presented by board member Lou Chang

These are the 4 lessons we learned from that experience.

Lesson #1 – The Importance of Choosing the Right Webinar Format
For our first webinar we used Join.me, an easy and simple to use software which allowed us to have 1 presenter (Lou Chang), 1 moderator (our President Anne Smoke), up to 256 participants, and 1 host (yours truly) for running and video recording the webinar.

It worked very well. The participants could watch the presenter’s Powerpoint presentation on their computer screen, and ask him questions either by audio (by “unmuting” themselves) or via chat. Problem is: presenter and participants couldn’t see each other, like in an in-person presentation, and at times this made the presenter feel a bit uncomfortable.

That’s why for our next webinars we’ll give presenters a second option to choose from — a video-based webinar. Using a new software called Zoom (Pro version), the presenter and a small group of (6-8) participants will be able to see each other at all times, making the whole event more personal and interactive.

Keep in mind that (1) both webinar formats can be video recorded; (2) the cost of the software (Join.me and Zoom.us) necessary for running each format is relatively low: approx. $10 per month, regardless of how many webinars you run.

Lesson #2 – Webinars Work
We now know that webinars are a great (and inexpensive) tool for offering value to existing ACR Hawaii Chapter members; finding new members; and helping current members share and promote their expertise. Lou Chang’s webinar was attended via Internet by 24 participants in Hawaii, on the mainland, and overseas. And, according to YouTube stats, its 60-min video recording has already been watched in 15 different countries.

Lesson #3 – Webinars Can Become an Additional Source of Revenue
Our first webinar was free. Our next webinars will still be free for current ACR Hawaii members, but there will be a fee for non-members, depending on whether they are interested to participate in a webinar or just to watch its video recording.

Lesson #4 – Offering Webinars Requires Different Skills
Finding presenters who can talk about an interesting ADR-related topic in a way that is informative and engaging is a good start – but it’s not enough. You also need people who know how to promote a webinar (e.g. through the social media); set up and manage its online registration, handle Paypal online payments, and finally run and video record the webinar.

We are very pleased with the results of our first webinar. And we hope that what we learned from that experience can be useful to other ACR Chapters or ADR organizations as well.

Giuseppe Leone