Reflection upon delivery
Deciding the date, time and length of the webinar
After the last meeting with Neil on 16/03/2021, we agreed that the original length of the webinar was a little ridiculous. I originally thought that two sets of four-hour sessions were a reasonable amount. This mostly came from my overestimation of how much time each topic would take to discuss and trying to cram almost an entire degree into a session. Below was my first timeline structure of how the webinar would have unfolded. Neil and I came to the agreement that eight hours was a little too much. He mentioned that even a four-hour session would be too much as he stated that the attention span of teenagers is often quoted as being less than an hour on average. We settled that a 2-hour session with an intro and an outro with a strong narrative like a nature documentary, this should be a good compromise I thought. There was no expectation for the attendees to be taking notes, nor to be paying attention to every single subtopic. The viewer can tune in whenever they find something interesting that is grabbing their attention. Therefore, the session had to be longer than an hour to ensure there was enough material so that most of the attendees had something they could relate or associate with.
Neil also correctly pointed out that teachers are less likely to suggest something to their students if they know the length of the activity isn’t appropriate. Most of the students, Neil also said, were unlikely to commit to a second day. With this, the final decision was to cut the session to 2 hours and keep it to a single day. I originally suggested a Saturday for the webinar as they would be free all day so would have time for the webinar. Neil pointed out that many students may not want to give up their Saturday and were more likely to engage if it was a “continuation” of the school day. In the end, we settled on a 4pm start, which was an acceptable time for students if they finished school at 3pm and could leisurely get home without a rush. 4 pm is good a time when considering Islamic prayers.
Reflection post Webinar
The moment I gave the final goodbyes to the attendees of my Webinar I realised that months of preparation and dedication to this project have finally come to an end. That everything had built up to this very moment. I was finally done, and boy did it feel good.
What I did well
The fact that I wasn’t over or under time suggests to me that my overall pace wasn’t too fast nor too slow. The laughs from the audience during my occasional jokes are reassuring that they were engaging with the content. Dylan Price after reviewing my 2-hour recording said that the delivery was better than some lectures at university. The polls (mentioned in the report) show that everyone who enjoyed the webinar and that they learned something. Half of them are now considering studying geosciences despite the fact that they weren’t considering it before the start of the session. After reviewing my recording a few times, I am very pleased with the mix and distribution of image-based anecdotes and science. Emphasising images over text meant that the audience was not distracted by reading the text on the slides but rather listened to myself and the guest speaker.
The style of delivery and the richness of images allows this webinar to be accessible to the general public even students below the age of 15. When talking to Nils and also friends and family they think my enthusiasm and my passion is “contagious” which makes the content I talk about more engaging. The interruptions from one of the attendees were clearly not malicious and therefore I made sure that they didn’t feel out of place and I encouraged people to ask questions throughout the webinar.
What could I have done better?
There is no such thing as a perfect project or performance, there can always be an improvement. I think that the biggest flaw of my webinar is that the first 10-15 minutes are not very captivating. The first impression an audience may have of the recorded session may not be representative of the rest of the video. The video I uploaded to YouTube has a captivating thumbnail that will set up the expectation of the whole video (refer to my report).
The amount of interaction between myself and the audience would have potentially been more dynamic if the audience was bigger, but at the same time, because it was restrained to this smaller group, the one participant who was actually vocal had a safe space to communicate more freely.
During the first few minutes of the webinar, I received a message which was visible to the audience, despite me only sharing my presentation rather than my whole screen. This is nothing crazy of course, but very unprofessional. After realising that this happened I went and blurred out the message with a small blur box and consequently, this is the version of the video that will be available online.
The last 10 minutes of the webinar consisted of me going through what all other, more niche, geoscience fields are. I felt that it was a needed component to ensure the audience knew what else was out there apart from the more well-known fields, that we (guest speaker and I) covered. In reality, this segment was incredibly dry, lacking images and any real development. They were not more than honourable mentions, but I feel like I could have been faster and clearer.
During the session, the attendance dropped as a few students had to leave to attend to other commitments. It turned out that they were on Easter break rather than having had a school day. Students may have not wanted to “waste” their easter break doing “school-related things”. In hindsight, the 4pm start was unnecessary and may have been too late for some attendees.
The style of the talk was more one-sided than I had hoped for, but I don’t think this is due to the lower number of attendees, but rather the lack of opportunities for them to interact with the content. More polls and dedicated question time would have allowed for this exchange to occur.
Main points that I would make sure I consider in my next webinar
- Livelier and attention-grabbing start.
- More interaction with the audience through polls and dedicated question times.
- Reduce the length of some sections to decrease the overall length of the webinar (at least by 30 minutes).
- Make honourable mention section shorter and livelier.