How to moderate a webinar like a pro (part 1)

If you have been asked to moderate a webinar (or live event when we can go to those again), preparation is key to ensuring the session goes smoothly.

Here are some things to think about and questions to ask before the webinar to help you prepare.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

What is the purpose of the webinar and who is the audience?

This is an important starting point because it will steer the questions you ask or choose from the audience. And understanding the audience is also important for knowing when to ask panellists to clarify or explain something in more detail.

What is the format?

As the moderator, once the event goes live you are the captain of the ship which means you need to keep things running smoothly. To do this you need to know the order of proceedings.

For example, are there presentations and in what order, is there a poll or polls and what is the timing of those? Will the audience get the opportunity to ask questions and when?

There is more tech to think about on a webinar so you may need to mute at certain points or switch off your video for presentations.

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Is your website copy clear about what you do?

‘Of course, our website copy tells people what our company does,’ I hear you say.

Slightly different question: Does your website copy describe what your company does using the same words and phrases your clients would use?

Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

Because that’s the thing, the words you use and those your potential clients use might not be the same. And it’s a crucial distinction if you want your business website to appear in searches.

When you are in the flow of writing about what you do, talking about your services and offer, it’s tempting to make it sound, well, a bit more flash. You might want to use technical terms or marketing lingo.

Here’s an example. I came across a company name, and I wanted to check what they did. I had an inkling were an office fit-out business.

So I Googled the company name to find their website and clarify what they did.

After spending 10 minutes scrolling through various pages on their website, I was still not 100% sure if they were an office fit-out company.

Fancy phrases vs clear and simple

The reason? Nowhere on the website did it mention ‘fit-out’. Instead, they used phrases like ‘end-to-end workspace solutions’.

If you were looking for a company to fit out your new office, would you search for ‘end-to-end workspace solutions’? Or would you search for ‘office fit-out company’?

It’s not unusual for B2B website copy to leave visitors confused about what the business actually does.

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Self-employment survival in a pandemic

On the first day of lockdown, a year ago, it was the quiet that was most unnerving.

I live in South West London, opposite a small park, and there is always the sound of a ball being kicked or bounced on the sports pitches.

Taken at Megan’s in Clapham the day the first lockdown was announced

An aircraft flying over, a car going by or someone talking loudly on their phone. Even on my relatively unpopulated street.

My neighbourhood had been switched off. But friends and family sprang to life; Zoom calls were organised, regular Whatsapp messages sent to check in on each other.

In contrast, being self-employed, there were no colleagues to rally around and huge uncertainty about what would happen to business.

I had enough work to see me through the first few weeks, but regular writing gigs started to dry up.

Negotiations about new work stopped.

There were debates on LinkedIn about whether it was appropriate to be marketing during a pandemic. How else was I get work if I didn’t stay visible?

Visibility campaign

I adjusted my approach but threw myself into a visibility campaign. In those first few months, I was never in a position where I didn’t have any work; it was just small bits and pieces.

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Panel events: Are you creating an echo chamber of views?

Many years ago, I chaired a roundtable on the future of business parks.

A business park developer, an agent who leased business park space, an architect who designed business parks, and a business park tenant took part in the discussion.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

There was lots of excited conversation about what the business park of the future would look like, what facilities it would have and how it would be used.

The occupier wasn’t joining in, so I asked what they thought of the suggestions. What they said stopped everyone in their tracks.

Why?

The tenant – the business that may or may not lease space in the future – didn’t want most of what was suggested.

Instead, they reeled off a list of what they did want from a business park.

I used to regularly chair panel discussions for the magazine I worked for.

Curve ball panellist

They were great generators of content and brand awareness but what made them really fly was when there was a ‘curve ball’ panellist.

There would be a range of people on the panel representing different sides of property development. However, the best discussions were when there was someone whose experience was different from the rest of the panellists.

An outsider.

One example was a discussion about economic growth in a particular region. Four out of five of the panellists were from the area and one was not.

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Reflections on feminism and working in male-dominated industries #IWD21

I’ve found myself saying recently that the older I get, the more feminist I am. But I don’t think that’s quite accurate.

Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

The older I get the less tolerant I am of gender inequality.

I’ve worked in male-dominated industries most of my life. Given the stories I’ve heard of the challenges some friends, colleagues and peers have had in the workplace, I feel like I’ve had a fairly lucky ride.

Luck shouldn’t come into it, but that’s the thing, that’s what we need to challenge until we don’t need to any more.

There was that time when, during my annual appraisal, my male boss asked me if my ambition was to have babies.

I did call him out on it. And again, when he asked the same question about the women in my team.

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