Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hosting webinars for fun and (non)profit

by Laura Williams, Center for Housing Policy

Here at the Center for Housing Policy, we host a lot of webinars. There are webinars about disasters, webinars about energy efficiency, webinars about zoning policy, older adults and location-efficient development. We do it all (when it comes to affordable housing).

This week I am working on putting together a webinar (perhaps two) about foreclosures. I hadn’t tackled one for awhile – our last big series was over the summer and for that we had interns – and I forgot how engrossing the planning process can be. First there’s the idea, then the guest (speaker) list. Scheduling begins pretty quickly and seems to never end; people who are interesting enough to be guest speakers for a webinar are often interesting enough to have very full calendars.

This is where I am today, as we move ever closer to our (hoped for) date. Though there are actually two dates we need to schedule: the webinar, of course, but also a planning call. This is my favorite part of organizing. My colleagues and I might come up with the vague outlines of a presentation, but our speakers always bring so much more to the table and it comes together in unanticipated (but always very good) ways. During the planning call, I get a bit of a preview of what’s to come, and a chance to meet some folks doing really interesting work. It’s a great way to spend 30 minutes or so.

Which is nice, because the webinar itself is usually all business. We use a web-based program that lets everyone log in from their (usually) remote locations, and when our hour begins we are off and running: I make introductions, and our guests share their knowledge with the wider housing world. In the meantime, I’m also recording the presentations and trouble-shooting any technical glitches (there are always one or two).

And then, it’s over. Though catalogued for posterity on HousingPolicy.org. Check it out sometime.

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