At MATI, we have an established series of webinars that started in 2014. What started as our “Brown Bag Webinar Series” which had an overarching theme over the course of the series has turned into our webinar series that addresses issues in the T&I industries. So in this post, we’ll look at the webinar, what a webinar is, its role in the annual operations of the chapter, and how a webinar series can be used to get members involved. Now, I admit, I’m not very involved with the MATI webinar series, but I have enlisted the help of one of our board members, Susie Schweigert, who runs the webinars to give a little insight into how our successful webinars get produced every month.For those of you unfamiliar with the term, etymologically, webinars are seminars that take place over the web. They essentially function as standalone presentation where the presenter and the attendees do not need to be in the same place. Because of that, no venue is needed and people do not need to allot travel time in accommodating the presentation. So let’s go to my questions and Susie’s responses.
What sparked the idea for the MATI Webinar series?
The idea came from one of our members, Margie Franzen. She had three people lined up who had prepared webinars on medical interpreting and were looking for a venue to facilitate them.
How has the webinar series evolved over the course of the last few years?
The first series was based on medical interpreting and was called the “MATI Brown Bag Webinar Series: Research and Practice in Medical Interpreting and Translation.” The second year, we focused on research and practice in legal interpreting. Now, in our third and current series we have lost the “Brown Bag” part of the title, and made the series open to all topics of interest within the T&I industry. The idea continues to focus on ways to use research, theories, or skills-building to inform and improve our daily practices as translators and interpreters.
We have also smoothed out the registration, facilitation, and follow-up process immensely since we started out. We also now offer our presenters an honorarium of $100.
What are some webinar topics that attendees have found especially helpful?
One of our most widely attended webinars was “Criminal Terminology” by Emily Alfonso Ortiz. I think our most recent webinar on March 19, 2016 “Reel Fun: Improving your Subtitles” by Ana Salotti was especially useful, as information and training on how to do subtitles is hard to find, but there is increasing demand for it. “Proofreading our Translations and Spanish US-isms” by Alejandra Patricia Karamanian was great because it was extremely practical, giving the attendees tips, guidelines, and suggestions that they can immediately put into practice when translating.
Is there anything you’ve learned in the course of conducting these webinars that would have helped you to know when you were first getting them started?
The biggest learning curve was with setting up the registration process. Because people register through MATI’s website http://www.matiata.org, but the actual webinar is done through GoToWebinar, it took us a few tries to figure out how to best automate getting the link to join the webinar to people once they registered. There are also little lessons I’ve learned along the way, such as always checking at the beginning to make sure attendees can hear and see the presentation, using the polling function, dealing with difficulties showing videos, etc.
What is the process for getting each one ready?
We submit the call for proposals about 6 months in advance, so around June or July, to plan for the upcoming year. We try to line up all webinars for the year by the beginning of January, scheduling one per month in the third week of the month. Every month, we distribute a promo email for the upcoming webinar to our members and contacts, and post on Facebook and Twitter. Before each webinar, we have a dry run with the presenter so they can familiarize themselves with the platform and get a rundown of logistics for the day of. We have two people from the MATI Board on hand for each webinar. One to facilitate and one to deal with any logistical or technical issues that may arise. After the webinar is completed, we distribute a recording of the webinar and any handouts to the registrants and send out certificates of attendance.
How did you go about forming the committee to have a support system for maintaining the webinar schedule?
I just talked to people at MATI events. When someone was particularly interested in becoming more involved with MATI, or with the webinars specifically, I would ask if this committee was something they’d like to do. Several non-board members, especially Marina Ilari, were helpful in preparing and distributing the call for proposals and in scheduling this year’s series. Others can still join this committee, just let me know if you’re interested!
It should also be noted that registration for these webinars is offered at a discounted rate for MATI members. Attending these webinars, which advance knowledge in the industry, adds value to membership and at a discounted rate of $20 instead of $30 for non-members. If you attend four of them, membership in the chapter has already paid for itself. So for MATI, webinars were the born of a member’s involvement, depend on continued member involvement, and have now developed into a great addition to chapter operations as they add value to membership, help connect members to industry leaders, and give those leaders an outlet to share their knowledge.
And all these elements are coming together quite nicely. This aspect of your chapter’s new brand can take advantage of the path you have already laid out before it. Once the website is revamped, you can have a page for each webinar with a write-up about the presentation and author in addition to the date and time. Then you can add an article by the presenter (maybe on a similar topic) and feature it on your blog, and set up social media posts about them to drum up interest. All of these are geared toward getting people to your newly-branded website and giving them a reason to come back regularly, and these webinars are also great ways to share information in AV format like the podcast, but interactive.
Next week, in part eight of this series, I’ll discuss the newsletter. What works and what doesn’t, and the time I was kind of a jerk to the person who organizes the SPD Newsletter.