Making the most of a webinar: Professional development during a pandemic

By Ashley Pace, Generation Next Governor at Large
Truck Bodies & Equipment International Inc.

This article was originally published in the April 2020 edition of Generation Next Edition.

Though many in-person opportunities for professional development, training, and networking in 2020 have been canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, never before have there been so many free, virtual opportunities to mature your skills as a professional. As brands have adapted their marketing/sales strategies to digital tactics during the pandemic, I have seen an increasing number of webinar opportunities that likely would not be happening outside of the current crisis.

I encourage you to take advantage of this trend, find webinars that interest you, sign up for them, and take this chance to hone your professional skills. However, beware of just signing up – it takes diligence to make the most of that hour. Here are a few of my tips for getting the full benefits out of virtual learning:

  1. Attend live (if time permits): In order to get the full benefits of a webinar, it is best to attend during the live broadcast. This allows you to ask any questions of the expert and hear the response live. However, if you won’t be able to attend live, most organizations follow up with a link to the recording for you to view at your convenience.
  2. Put it on your calendar: This seems obvious, but make sure to block time for when you’ve chosen to attend the webinar, either live or at a later time. Otherwise, it’s easy to get distracted or let the opportunity pass you by.
  3. Put up your other work: Find a time to watch when you can commit to attending without distraction from other work. It’s really tempting to multitask during the broadcast (trust me – I’ve done it!). However, if you aren’t paying full attention, you’ll waste your own time and miss the benefit of participating live. Speaking from experience, you will likely have to watch the recording later anyway to cover the information you missed.
  4. Pull out your notepad: Take notes while the speaker is talking. This will help you remember what is said and stay focused on the topic at hand.
  5. Ask a question: Most webinars hold a Q&A at the end of the teaching during a live event. This is your unique opportunity to ask the expert any question you may have about the subject – take it!
  6. Synthesize what you learned: After the webinar is over, review your notes and pull together bullet points of what you learned. Save this list, your notes, and a link to the recording in a file to reference later when you need a refresh. I would also suggest sending the list to your manager and your team to share what you have learned.

I challenge you to take the opportunity to attend a webinar next week! Hopefully these tips will help turn virtual learning into an opportunity to truly grow your skills as a professional.

Looking for ways to get started? NTEA regularly hosts webinars and offers a library of archived webinar recordings.