If silence is important to encourage engagement by participants in webinars and online meetings AND if facilitators/presenters cannot rely on visual cues like we do in face-to-face situations…how can we know how much time to allow for participants to respond?
There are several factors at play:
So what can you do to insure that everyone has a chance to get their two cents in without losing those who are quick on their feet to other distractions? Consider the chart below (click to enlarge).
CHECK IT OUT: Do an experiment with some colleagues. Have them participate in a webinar that includes a variety of activities. Time how long it takes for them to respond to each activity and afterwards, ask for their subjective experience…how did it feel as a participant? Was there enough time? Did they feel rushed? Was there too much time? Did they find themselves drifting away from the webinar? Did they need/want some clues about the timing (e.g., stating “90 more seconds”, a countdown timer)?
UPDATE: The more webinars I do the more I realize how little wait time I am actually providing the participants. Recently I had the opportunity to use a platform which gave me a timer for polls. I started noting how long it took participants to register their poll answers. Consistently it took at least 30 seconds more than I typically have allotted for the first participants to provide their response! For example, Yes/No response times were 60-90 seconds (instead of the 30 seconds I had been giving). CHECK IT OUT: Use a timer to track how quickly answers start coming in and how long it takes for a majority of the participants to respond. Use those data to inform your practice for future webinars.