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Using Polls for Fun and Function [Guest Post]

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Today's blog post is provided by Debbie Castro, Senior Director of Volunteer Services, Pulmonary Hypertension Association. Debbie is a member of ReadyTalk's exclusive advocacy community The ReadyTalk Summit Club. She's also using ReadyTalk's polling tools in unique ways:
 
For the last six years, I've been running a monthly webinar training series for active members of our community. We organize the trainings and  ReadyTalk to bring our members together once a month, so that they can learn from each other. We bring in outside expert speakers, as well as staff members, to provide presentations to help members with very sensitive and specific topics related to their work.  These leaders are volunteers who live with a rare, chronic and life-threatening condition – and as such, many do not have a lot of time or energy in the day. We want to make sure that we use their time effectively and try to not go over the allotted 60 minute time frame that we set for these monthly webinars.

At the end of the hour-long training, we sometimes have a speaker run over and wish we could have time for some Q&A. Occasionally, the leaders themselves will be engaged in a really riveting discussion when we hit the hour mark. Not all of the leaders are able to stay past the hour, but many of them might be interested in keeping the webinar going. So in these occasions, as the facilitator, I have a little bit of leverage using ReadyTalk’s poll function.

What do you do when you have anywhere from 20-50 busy, time-strapped volunteers on a webinar, and you have run out of time but have much more to say?

If you ever find yourself in the position of needing more time, here's what I suggest:

  1. Fully disclose and announce that you have run out of time on the webinar. Ask to take 30 seconds to see if there are enough people who want to continue the call.
  2. Use the “Insert Poll” function on the webinar
    • Ask them if they can stay on longer, and if so, by what amount of time. For example, the poll could look like this:
      1. I have no more time, but appreciate the offer
      2. I can stay 5 minutes longer
      3. I can stay 10 minutes longer
      4. I can stay 15 minutes longer
  3. Depending upon the responses, you have just bought yourself an additional block of time in which you can at least close the whole conversation if not keep the webinar going for more substantive dialogue and information sharing.
  4. Be sure to offer a “back door” exit for those who simply cannot stay longer and thank them for their time.

I love using the poll function to not only extend the hour, but to offer interaction during webinars. From the user perspective, nothing is so boring as sitting in an hour long lecture, without the opportunity of giving feedback. We have used the poll function as a tool to see if you have motivated your users to taking action. We hosted a training of leaders on advocacy, and at the end of our talk, we asked them to tell us if they were planning on getting involved (and how):

 

Using Polls in a Webinar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have also used the poll function to play “trivia” with our leaders, asking them questions for answers they should already know. Since the polling results are presented anonymously, most of them are comfortable answering the questions. This is a different, more interactive way of teaching. Not only that, but you can learn about the audience level of knowledge on the subject matters at the core of your webinar. Here’s an example of the rules we had for our trivia game:

Using polls to teach a webinar audience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


And here is a  question we used:

Test the webinar audience's knowledge with polls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


In sum, the poll function allows us to engage our audience, create group interaction, learn more about their knowledge levels and breaks up the boredom of a speaker-style delivery system.

 

More about Debbie Castro and PHA

Debbie Castro has worked as the Senior Director of Volunteer Services at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) for over nine years. She moved from California to Washington, D.C., to join PHA because of her deep personal connection to the disease community. Her sister Alex, diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 1998, and the fight for a cure for this disease are to be central to her life.


Debbie's role at PHA is to maintain and expand the volunteer spirit on which the organization’s foundation was built. She trains and works directly with more than 300 leaders of support groups across the country and has mentored and trained international organizations on developing support networks. She has coordinated many regional and national leadership training summits for patients and caregivers in California; Florida; Texas; Washington; D.C. and Maryland. In 2007, she developed training webinar series involving hundreds of leaders. She has since coordinated more than 60 of these trainings.


Debbie has coordinated our Patient-to-Patient Support Line Volunteers, creating new resources and annual trainings of the team of support line volunteers. She has pioneered monthly telephone support groups for newly diagnosed and home-bound patients. She has recruited and trained hundreds of local and national volunteers. 

She has spoken in over 80 PHA educational conferences, events, support groups and fundraising for special events, including pulmonary hypertension Florida State Symposium, Johns Hopkins Pulmonary Hypertension Conference, the International Latin American Summit of Pulmonary Hypertension Associations and four PHA International Conference and Scientific Sessions, which are the largest gatherings of patients with pulmonary hypertension in the world.

 






 

 


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