Webinars and Effectiveness

I was thinking of tuning up my tennis game. My net game could use a little help. So naturally I looked for a Webinar. Why not? It would be more convenient and probably cheaper. And I could check my email at the same time! Multitasking be praised!

On second thought, maybe a Webinar-based tennis lesson wouldn’t work so well. Who would ever think that you can multi-task while trying to take a tennis lesson? It would be a waste of time and money. Some types of activities need a more focused, uninterrupted approach. Like reading or shoplifting.

So now the question is: When is it best for live, in-person instruction, less participatory instruction like a Webinar, or training that has no participation like watching a video, listening to a podcast or reading? It’s the balance between cost-effectiveness and effectiveness. Or maybe you just have so much to do that you can’t just do one thing at a time.

So back to the tennis lesson example: If you’re a tennis pro and can get 50 tennis players to sign-up for a tennis lesson Webinar, it’s great for you as you can do it in your home and you’d make more money, even if you charge less than a live lesson, which you should. And even though it’s tennis instruction via a Webinar, you are confident that these 50 people will become at least a little better at tennis. But you’ll never really know.

Rest assured your audience will be multitasking (or at least 44 of the 50 will be says the research) and the instruction won’t be as individualized, and you, as the tennis pro, won’t actually be able to see and evaluate anyone’s tennis game. So instead of charging $60 per hour for a live, on-the-court private tennis lesson, you’re charging maybe $15 for a tennis lesson Webinar. And if your audience gets 25% of the value, you’re okay with that.

But what if the stakes are really high for you to learn as much as possible? Do you want your surgeon to have learned how to remove your cancerous growth via a Webinar? How about the pilot on this very flight I’m on right now on my way to Chicago learning to fly this jet via Webinar? Or is it okay to learn to drive a car via a Webinar? Or you are the lead negotiator for arms reduction between two countries and you want to learn how to negotiate via a Webinar?

Or how about any other activity that requires well-developed face-to-face, interpersonal skills? Like how to introduce yourself and start a conversation or how to start and maintain a relationship.

It seems to me that if you’re trying to learn to do something and you need to interact with something (like a plane) or someone (like a customer), Webinars are not very effective. But since business Webinars appear to be so cost-effective, they have become the first choice for a lot of instruction and training. I just think having 12% of someone’s attention during any type of training isn’t good. But all of the attendees can say they went through the training.

If you’re actually in a room experiencing live, in-person, interactive, and well-thought training, you’re going to get far better results. But it’s going to cost more. Depending upon the stakes or the desired level of results, it’s usually worth it.

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