As a writer, I always want to improve my skills.
But as a freelance writer, I don't always have the chance to travel to attend some of the wonderful seminars and conventions I hear so much about. I've found, though, that I get just as much out of some of the webinars I've attended – I just don't get the hotel ballroom experience and name tag.
Webinars allow me to "meet" some incredible people in my industry.
However, not all experiences are the same. I once took part in a webinar in which the featured writer never showed. Even though we waited. For nearly two hours. Others weren’t what they promised, or technical difficulties – on their end and on mine – prevented me from learning much.
Here are three essentials for the optimum webinar participation experience, in my book.
The right room
This sounds basic, but it's true. During my first webinar ever, I thought I could multi-task. I had no idea what a distraction background music would be. Or a TV in the next room. Or a cat that hadn't been fed. Honestly, I should have refilled my coffee and visited the restroom first, too.
Quiet, distraction-free and comfortable space is a must.
Essentials of your webinar room
I've tried typing notes before, and found it tougher to do during a webinar. I have a second monitor, but I feel as if I'm missing something when I type on it. With a notebook, I can jot notes, or even the time of the webinar, in case there are spots I want to revisit if there's a podcast available.
Pencils, pens and highlighters
Takes me back to my college days! Call me nerdy, but I use blue highlighter for reference, green for things I want to ask questions about, and yellow for good quotes. Red pen goes in the margins for breakout stuff, and I'll use pencil if I think I'm going to have to erase a lot!
OK, maybe this is just me.
The right Internet connection
Nothing's worse than a shoddy Internet connection when you're knee deep in a great webinar.
I've been there. Back in the days of dial-up, it was a given. Then, I progressed to Internet from my cable provider. Some days, it was stellar. Other days? I couldn't deal with the inconsistency. Even when it was fine, just the threat of it going bad was enough to keep me on edge during the entire webinar.
The right service
Not all webinar services are created equal.
I won't name names, but I've logged in to one or two that didn't go well. Sometimes, the content wasn't what I'd hoped. Other times, it could have been compelling, but the delivery had all the spice of a saltine cracker. Without the salt.
By far, though, the most important aspect for a good webinar is the host. The host can make or break the experience. Colleagues have told me a lot of good things about ReadyTalk webinars, how easy they are to get hooked up with, how professional they are.
With some services, there were times I heard beeps and prompts, but nothing else.
Was I in? Was I out? Sometimes, it was hard to tell.
ReadyTalk webinars have the reputation of being seamless, user-friendly events. Now that I've perfected my webinar room, I feel like I don't worry about anything else but the webinar and what I can gain from it. So, the standards are getting set pretty high. It's how I'm going to grow as a writer.
I'm thinking an upgrade in snacks is in order, too.
Elizabeth Phillips is a freelance writer and former business professional who enjoys writing about business and technology-related articles. She can be found productively writing from home in Philadelphia, PA.