Webinars from both sides of the mic

I’m writing this post in bits so that I can reflect both on presenting a webinar and attending some put on by my peers.

Thursday’s Webinars:

“Serving Patrons Who’ve Served Time: Programs for incarcerated people and former offenders” – My first webinar of the day, as well as the first webinar of the week. I thought that this group did a good job finding resources that libraries can use when working with people that are either in prison or have recently been released. I also liked that they thought of some potentially pre-existing library resources that could be beneficial for this group. The best example was makerspaces, since they could be a place for people to learn skills that could help them get a job as they try to reintegrate into civilian life. One quibble: they referred to them as “adult makerspaces.” It seems to have been implied by the presenters that makerspaces are for children and young people and not for adults. Though at UMSI we work mostly with younger makers, the movement itself is for people of all ages. And if I recall correctly, it’s actually a movement that started with and for adults. I know it’s one very small issue in the light of an otherwise very informative presentation, but I think it sticks out to me because makerspaces have become a thing that is close to my heart as I gain experience researching about and participating in the field.

Meeting Tribal Needs: A Cross-Country Exploration of Library Service to Native Americans” – This group talked about an underserved population that I don’t always think about but that I want to try to incorporate into my future libraries. They were very thorough in the kinds of resources they covered, with things that could be used for public, academic or (just for me 😉 ) school libraries! I know I want to look at the types of programming done in K-12 schools working with Native American populations. And I think they did a solid job keeping people engaged, with their polls and chat questions every few minutes.

 “Queering Spaces, Empowering Pride: Library Services for LGBT*Q (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer) YA” – I actually just watched this today, but I thought I’d save my webinar for last. This webinar was all about finding ways to include all teens in programming, regardless of their sexual orientation or their gender expression. It was focused specifically on public and school libraries, and they had a lot of great ideas! One takeaway is that even if you can’t do a ton of programming for this demographic due to working in a conservative area or school district, you can include them in smaller ways that might not rock the boat quite so much but will include them. This would mean incorporating LGBT*Q books into displays on other themes where they would fit (e. g. romances for Valentine’s Day – would David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy be perfect?) and including LGBT*Q authors on panels if you invite multiple authors to your school. Small steps are the way to help LGBT*Q students feel safe and accepted in the library, which is how I want all students to feel.

Lastly, I wanted to go over the webinar I did with Rachel and Kirsten, called Intergenerational @ your library: Serving Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.” After getting together to make sure things were ready to go and giving a quick runthrough that took us right up to our scheduled start, it was showtime! We had a small but helpful and patient audience, which proved good when we forgot to hit the talk button to start off – oops! But lesson learned, and it went mostly smoothly from there. We had one glitch with a mic, but we fixed it really quickly by switching computers. We delivered all the information we wanted, and we took turns moderating to respond to people’s questions in the chat. For a first webinar, I don’t think it could have gone much better! And our feedback pretty much said the things we knew went right and wrong (though we would have loved more survey responses from our audience). I’m really glad to have this group experience under my belt before my 4T presentation. I’m still a little worried about going it alone for that, but I’m sure I’ll be fine if I just use what I’ve learned from this experience and what I’m learning at 4T training.

One lesson that I think was most important from this experience: try things out, but don’t practice too much. I think it’s better to get a solid agenda and do the whole presentation a couple of times, but I still think it’s important to be flexible and conversational. It’s a little different for me, since I’m used to straight-up presentations, both for classes and for things like the Undergraduate Symposium back at EMU. There can be questions and answers at the end, but you basically just plow through your talking points until it’s time for the Q & A. For me, it seems much more formal than a webinar, and so it needs to be much more practiced. I’m not saying that you can go into a webinar cold, with no real idea of what you’re covering – that would be silly. But like I said, once you have your plan down and you know it’s going to fit into your time slot, and you account for questions along the way and/or at the end, you don’t need to practice and polish quite as much. And you want the audience to feel like they can interact with you, even moreso than at these more academic presentations. So prepare, but don’t necessarily go through it word-for-word. Leave some wiggle room!


One thought on “Webinars from both sides of the mic

  1. I think most groups did a good job being conversational. It was a little difficult to keep up with some of the chat conversations because some webinars had a lot of attendees, but you’re right about being flexible. You never know what someone might ask, and if you aren’t perpared it can be really through you off.

    I think you did a great job!

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