Transitioning a Workshop to Webinar Training

Several organizations are transitioning some of their traditional workshop-based learning to a virtual environment, delivering the same content but through a webinar. The threat of the spreading COVID-19 coronavirus and cost savings are a couple of the reasons for this transition. While making this transition may be a prudent business decision, keep a few things in mind to make this transition effective for the learner.

Performance Objectives Still Rule!

You need to base any type of learning, regardless of the medium, on good performance objectives. Performance objectives are learning objectives that focus on what the learner will be able to do with the learning after the training. However, you will need to modify the performance objectives you had for a workshop to meet the parameters of a webinar learning environment. For example, in a webinar, it’s difficult to conduct simulations and role-plays without specialized software. Therefore, your performance objectives may need to reflect what participants can reasonably learn in terms of the actual application of a new skill/knowledge/behavior.

Tips for Turning a Workshop into a Webinar

The biggest challenge in transitioning a live workshop to a webinar is your inability to rely on your platform skills to transfer learning and to read the audience. To overcome this challenge, you need to plan and deliver a webinar that creates engagement through the limitations of the webinar medium. Foster engagement during webinars by:

1.  Formulating a collaborative mindset

Webinars tend to make your training a lecture. Resist that pressure! Your mindset with the webinar needs to be one of collaboration: How can you create deep engagement with the learners on the webinar? Continuously ask yourself how you can create more collaboration, interaction, and participation in the webinar. Approach the webinar with that mindset, and your training will be more interactive.

2.  Chunking the content

It’s almost mentally impossible for a learner to stay engaged in a webinar much longer than 60 minutes; 45 minutes or less is better. If you have an 8-hour live workshop you are transitioning to a webinar, reduce the amount of content and divide it into several smaller 45-minute webinars. Consider holding several 45-minute webinars over several days or, if you must do it in a day, build in long breaks between segments.

3.  Distributing pre-work

Pre-work is important to any type of learning, but it’s even more important to webinars. Sharing the key content, such as core models, concepts, and theory, before the webinar will help the learners formulate a basic understanding so that when they get on the webinar, you can efficiently use the time to discuss any questions and focus on application.

4.  Building in engagement

Before the webinar, plan the engagement you want to help create that critical engagement you need. As you transition the workshop to a webinar:

  • Build in questions at key points throughout the webinar
  • Set up a “ringer” by asking someone before the call to share his or her experience or to ask a strategically placed question
  • Incorporate a brief test or knowledge quiz in the webinar or at the end
  • Incorporate a game learners can complete in a webinar environment
  • Share a good example or ask someone to share an example or case study

5.  Animating the slides

PowerPoint has great animation tools you can incorporate into your slides. They make the slides a little more interesting and fun to watch. However, you can overdo it! Too much animation can be distracting. The key is to do it every so often so the learners are slightly surprised when it appears.

6.  Communicating the agenda and guidelines

Share the agenda at the beginning of the webinar. This lets the learners know what to expect and how you will deliver the content. Also, communicate guidelines for how you would like the webinar to run. Guidelines form a verbal contract between you, as the facilitator, and the webinar participants by telling them your expectations. One of the guidelines should address participation.

7.  Limiting audience size

If you were facilitating a workshop for 25 participants and need to transition to a webinar format, limit the number of participants to no more than 12. The ideal number of webinar participants for a good training program is around 9, depending on the content.

8.  Using case studies and examples

The more examples and case studies you can incorporate into the webinar, the better. Case studies are relatable, so given the challenges of learning from a distance, realistic case studies that apply the content are best.


Transitioning a workshop to a webinar, while not always ideal, may be necessary, and you can successfully pull it off with careful planning and execution. You need to adapt the performance objectives you have for the learning to a webinar format. Any good training program is highly interactive. While that can be challenging in a webinar, you can manage it using pre-work, case studies, and carefully planned questions that create engagement. Learning is a process, and webinars can be a valuable way to execute that process, but only if you adapt it to this type of learning environment.

Let’s connect and chat about your workshop-to-webinar transition needs.

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