Because webinars are relatively easy to produce, inexpensive to host, and bring geographically far-flung participants together with the click of a mouse, they have become ubiquitous in the world of continuing medical education. But when poorly designed and executed, they run the risk of failing at the very thing they are designed to achieve—changing behavior. A disembodied voice accompanying a deluge of uninteresting slides becomes an open invitation for participants to check e-mail, complete charts, read their Twitter feed, or surf the Web, while remaining somewhat tuned in to the content at hand.

To overcome the passivity that is inherent in a webinar format, it’s critical to design and plan for interactivity so that participants engage directly with the content you want them to absorb. You want webinar participants to actively discuss, write about, adapt, and practice what you’re attempting to teach.
Here are some best practices, based on our own experiences using the Cisco WebEx Training Center online conferencing application. (These guiding principles are based on WebEx simply because that is the application our organization uses—we do not promote or recommend any particular webinar platform.)