Happy New Year! In January, our thoughts turn to new beginnings and plans. Geoff Rasmussen recently announced the 2022 Legacy webinar schedule. That schedule always gets me thinking about all the education opportunities coming up for the year. So my question is, what do you plan to learn?
It’s easy to respond with an enthusiastic “Everything!” But you may want to take some time to plan out your webinar watching and come up with an action plan so that you can make the most of your webinar viewing. From my personal experiences teaching and watching webinars, I know there are some best practices to consider to get the most from your experience.
6 Best Practices
We are so lucky to live in a time where technology has brought us so much knowledge and information. I remember in college, I had an independent study class that consisted of recorded lectures on VHS tape, and I thought that was very high tech! That early version of the webinar did allow me some flexibility to listen to lectures on my schedule.
But easier access doesn’t always mean that we are doing what we need to, to get the most of the experience (remember my recorded college lectures? I tended to fall asleep due to a heavy work and school schedule).
What are some “best practices” to get the most of what you watch this year? Here are 6 I would suggest.
1. What is your goal?
What’s your reason for listening to that webinar? Do you have a specific research type or methodology you want to learn? Take time to write that goal down. When you find yourself not paying attention, you can remind yourself why you are there and what you want out of the next hour.
2. Focus on the Webinar.
No really. I know how it is. You have a webinar playing, and you're checking social media, and answering someone's email. Then you're ordering groceries to be delivered and wondering what you should make for dinner. No, don't do that. Give yourself the gift of focusing, totally being present only on the webinar. If you have to do a quick search of the website the speaker just mentioned, fine. But try to focus on what the presenter is saying. When we simply watch a presentation, we don't retain everything we hear, so imagine how much you retain when your mind is multitasking? According to author and TED Talk presenter Julian Treasure, we only retain only 25% of what we hear so imagine what you're missing in that other 75% .
3. Jot Down Questions.
Before you even watch the webinar, what do you want to get from it? What do you need to know for your research? Jot those down before the speaker even begins and if those questions aren't answered, consider asking in the chatbox.
4. Take Notes.
Do you take notes when you watch webinars? Note-taking helps you to retain information simply by the act of writing the information down. You can print the handout and annotate it so that it is more meaningful for your particular research.
5. Ask Questions.
Use the chat to ask questions. Your question may not be picked, but you have a better chance if you make sure to ask right away.
A TED talk by Julian Treasure (mentioned above) teaches an acronym to use when thinking about listening. That acronym is RASA which stands for Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, and Ask. Receive means to pay attention. Appreciate is one way you can show your listening to a person (using responses like oh, ok). The last two are probably obvious, Summarize what the speaker said back to them, and Ask questions. Even though this is meant for 1:1 conversation, you could do the same thing when listening to a webinar. Remember those notes you were taking? You can note any follow-up actions like searching on a website or checking out a recommended book. After the webinar is over, take some time to jot down the three main points (or more) that are your take-aways from the webinar.
What do you do to prepare to learn from a webinar? What are your best practices? Let’s share ideas in the comments below.
See you at the next webinar!
 “5 Ways to Listen Better,” TED (https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better/transcript?language=en: accessed 5 January 2022).
Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.