We have all grown accustomed to learning through a screen, whether that be watching an online course, reading an article or attending a live webinar, for example. With knowledge more accessible than ever, the choice for where, when and how we decide to learn can be overwhelming. A webinar can be a structured and interactive way to learn alongside colleagues. It provides a rare opportunity to engage with an expert on a topic, who might not have been previously accessible due to geographical location, cost or time zones. Joining and learning from webinars are an opportunity to better your understanding and enrich your professional development profile – but do you know how to get the most out of the experience? Here are some ways to ensure you maximise your learning in your next webinar, which starts before you even join the live event.
1. Time is your most important commodity
Choose your webinars carefully. Recognise the value of your time. Instead of juggling multiple webinars each week, spreading your attention thin and cramming them into busy days, opt for a select few where you can fully commit your time, energy and undivided focus. Look for webinars that match your interests, actively engage in them, and make the most of the networking chances they offer.
2. Save the date in your diary
This may seem obvious, but it is important! Save the information in more than one place, as a reminder. Add it to a paper diary, to a virtual calendar or tell a family member or friend (this will help you stick to your plan of attending). It is also a best-practice to set yourself a reminder.
3. Be prepared
This isn’t just about glancing at the required reading or quickly accessing any material sent to you ahead of time (although this is important – read more below). Think also about preparing yourself mentally and your environment physically to optimise your learning, this might include:
- Find a quiet place to minimise your distractions.
- Use headphones to concentrate on the sounds and messaging from the webinar.
- Have a note-taking mechanism at the ready (whether that’s a pen and paper, a Word document or an organisational program like Notion). This will help you write down interesting concepts, references, terms you might want to look up later and questions for the presenter(s). A great way to organise your notes is through the Cornell note-taking method (go ahead, look it up! You can find a printable template here).
- Have a glass of water, tissues and a jumper (sweater) nearby to address your needs during the webinar.
- Do not snack during the webinar, as this can be a source of distraction to your learning.
- Have a quick health break before the start of the webinar.
- Turn off your notifications, including emails and messaging apps, turn on your “do not disturb mode” on your phone and devices, and close all necessary tabs and web browsers on your current device. You can even go so far as to put a note on the door. Fight the urge to “multitask” and focus on the key messages of the presenter(s).
- Make an effort to do the pre-reading. Put yourself into the right head-space to learn about your topic. The organiser(s) and presenter(s) took the time to share their recommendations; it is worth your while to take advantage of their expertise. Do the readings.
4. Check the time! (Yes, again)
I cannot stress this enough. Webinars are being offered all over the world and time zones can be a challenge for the best of us. Take a minute and triple-check the time zone! A great tool to use is World Clock. Make sure you’ve cleared your calendar for the correct amount of time at the proper time.
5. Check your technical set-up
Is everything charged (headset, mouse, keyboard, etc.)? Do you have all of your cords to plug in your devices? Do your speakers and microphone work? Do you have any updates to install on your computer?
Log in 15 minutes early (this goes along with the technical setup. How many times have you had to install “updates” before a virtual event?). This will also help you have some quiet time before the start of the webinar. A few deep breaths at the start can help you focus.
6. Practice mindful focus
Sometimes, you might find yourself half-listening to a webinar while simultaneously checking emails or messages, with the webinar playing in the background (we have all done it). You occasionally catch snippets of information or visuals that flash on the screen. This habit of multitasking and passive listening could hinder your ability to retain information effectively. Practising mindfulness means channelling your full energy into one task at a time and excelling at it. If you struggle with sustained attention, consider taking notes during the webinar. Remember, active listening is crucial not only during the presenter’s presentation but also when participants ask questions and receive responses. The Q&A period could be your most powerful chance to learn. You took the time to register and attend, now take the time to show up.
7. Be bold – ask your questions
Questions will allow you to seek clarification on any points they may not have fully understood during the presentation. This helps ensure that the information is clear and accurate. Questions can also help you to personalise the content for your learning. You can ask how the information applies to your unique situation, clinical practice, or challenges, making the material more relevant to you and your everyday practice.
Asking questions after a presentation is valuable because it enhances learning, fosters engagement, and promotes deeper understanding of the subject matter. It also benefits both the presenter(s) and you, contributing to a more interactive and productive learning experience for everyone.
8. Engage Actively – Enhance your networking opportunities
Webinars unite individuals who share a common interest in specific topics, providing an opportunity for meaningful conversations that can ignite fresh ideas and creativity. Do not be shy to share your contact details with anyone you made a connection with (a quick nod to personal and cyber security – a private rather than a group message may be prudent).
9. Be curious – have fun
Learning is often considered good for the soul. Learning will allow you to grow and develop continually. It will challenge you to expand your horizons, acquire new knowledge, and develop new skills. This growth can contribute to a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction and give you confidence.
In essence, attending a webinar and learning is not just about acquiring new information; it is about nourishing the soul. It feeds your innate desire for growth, understanding, and connection. It enriches life and brings meaning to self-discovery and personal development, ultimately contributing to your overall well-being.
10. Act right away
Your challenge is to find a webinar that captivates your interest. Sign up with gumption! Attend with your full attention, enrich your professional life and feed your soul.
We hope to see you at the next Plus Webinar.