Well Begun is Half Done

March 3, 2014 at 8:45 am Leave a comment

headshot of suzanneMy southern grandmother often said, “Well begun is half done.”  She also said, “Darlin’, it’s fine, fine, fine – finer than a frog’s hair split three times,” but that’s another story. What she meant by the first idiom stumped me for a long time, until I realized that if you start out with meaning and intent for something to be great, you really are halfway there. The second phrase, well, truly that’s another story for another day.

But I’ve discovered “well begun” isn’t something that happens alone, not in an organization like Philanthropy Ohio. To illustrate this point, let me share with you the process my first Let’s Talk Philanthropy webinar endured from creation, modification, delivery to evaluation.green frog on leaf

For this first webinar, we decided to continue a conversation on “Disruptive Innovation” I began at our statewide conference last fall – how philanthropy is being disrupted by innovations in giving trends, technology and globalization. As a former marketing professor, I prepared my lecture, complete with PowerPoint slides and a hefty dose of facts, figures, lovely tables and charts. I considered it “well begun.” And perhaps it was – if I was delivering it to an audience 20 years ago. What I neglected to consider were the innovations in webinars and what the research shows makes a great one.

Fortunately, the staff at Philanthropy Ohio isn’t shy and they are quite apt in making sure our brand and our messages are of a high caliber. While the script remained fairly consistent with my original thoughts, the visuals changed dramatically, with bells and whistles replacing the tables and charts. I learned four very important things:

  1. You can’t plan enough, and Murphy’s Law will follow you everywhere. Technology isn’t foolproof, and you’ve got to prepare for all calamities. For example, the perfectly working camera we tested the day before had issues during the actual webinar. But due to prior planning, we had a solution. We used all slides and no interactive videography.
  2. Promotion is critical, and social media is a must! Not only did we conduct the webinar but another staff member Tweeted.  Audience identification will drive the marketing strategy because it’s not what the presenter knows: it’s all about what the audience wants to learn.tweeter raising hand
  3. Interactivity is important, and one way to engage your audience is through polls. We conducted three during the webinar and it was actually a lot of fun!
  4. Use more slides to ensure the webinar is interactive. I know, it goes against the traditional thoughts, but really, the more slides the better! I’ve learned that for a 30 minute presentation you should have about 75 slides (1 hour, around 150 slides) that build on what you are presenting. This way there is constant movement and the participant is completely engaged and wanting to see what comes next.

As I started this virtual journey with my sense of “well begun is half done,” I learned from some very smart people that a great webinar is carefully planned and is a wonderful engagement tool which ultimately enhances our brand. The positive evaluations we received reinforced these lessons:  I’m told my delivery wasn’t bad, my mother (who is a lot like my grandmother but a little more gracious), said it was good, and the staff didn’t seem terribly embarrassed.  But I’m committed now, and every month I hope my webinars get better and better.  And I’d appreciate your feedback.

Now – to quote another favorite relative – although I was as “nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” we are persevering with my next webinar on March 7, “It All Started With a Girdle.” See you in Philanthropy Ohio’s virtual world of webinars!

Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.

Entry filed under: Commentaries, Communications.

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