Tuesday, 15 April 2014

How eCPD webinars and courses see the light of day.

It’s no easy matter to put on a top quality CPD (continuing professional development) session for translators or interpreters. At eCPD we deal with very discerning customers. They are translators and interpreters at every level of experience and expertise and they expect to see high-quality training and CPD. eCPD makes great efforts to cater for everyone, of whatever experience level.

Identify topic …
The first step that we take is to identify what language professionals want and need by reading our customers’ feedback and suggestions, scanning blogs and Twitter feeds, and keeping up-to-date with the latest trends.

…and qualified trainer
Having identified a topic, the next task is to find a qualified trainer. That is not always easy. While many of our speakers are professional trainers, we often find that the best trainer is a practising linguist who has become expert in a particular field. Often such people have not considered teaching others what they know. Our first task is to identify the right person. The second is to help them put together an interesting, challenging, and valuable CPD session. We usually approach such experts well in advance of the potential webinar or course, to give them plenty of time to put together their presentation.

Schedule date and time
Our task then is to schedule a date and time. This is not always easy because our customers are located all over the world. Courses held in the morning here in the UK are usually too early for most people in the US, but by the afternoon in the UK, Australian translators tend to have retired for the night. We consider the interest level in each of the zones before setting a time. We believe that it is best to attend every webinar live, but we recognise that sometimes it is impossible: last minute urgent jobs, a sick child, wrong timing. And that is why every session is recorded.

Telling our customers
Once the event is scheduled on our webinar platform, we start the marketing process. We create
registration and payment buttons for our website, and ensure that each event is published on our calendar of events. Courses are also allocated a separate and permanent page of their own. The registration and payment processes are semi-automated for customers, but issuing the confirmation and receipt are manual operations.

Mailing list
eCPD maintains an active mailing list using contact management and email marketing software. The software ensures that only people who really want our newsletter will receive it. Every couple of weeks we send out a newsletter containing news of our upcoming webinars and courses. We also make sure that every newsletter contains at least one industry story as well as some helpful links for translators and interpreters. Readers can opt to receive reminders of every event, about a week before each event is due to take place. Around half of the people on our list have chosen to receive these. Busy translators appreciate these timely reminders. Readers can unsubscribe at any time.

Engaging with our audience
The staff at eCPD keep our customers engaged in other ways too. The company has an active Facebook fan page with (at the time of writing) over 850 likes. The feeds on Facebook and Twitter (over 1100 followers follow @ecpdwebinars) keep industry-watchers up to date with blogs, conference news, amusing language-related stories, and our own events of course. We also curate a collection of useful links for translators in a variety of fields on ScoopIt.

Administrative procedures
As bookings for a new event arrive, the back office is kept busy ensuring that everyone has their confirmations, and that every sale is entered into the accounts system, with a receipt sent to the purchaser.

As the date of a webinar approaches, activity increases as we contact the speaker to ascertain content,
length, audience interaction, graphics, and to arrange a rehearsal. Even with seasoned speakers we always hold a rehearsal to ensure that the webinar software is running correctly and the sound system is good. Audio is the area where we experience most problems and until we hold a rehearsal we cannot work out what those problems might be. We usually have everything sorted out before the big day, but there has been at least one occasion when the audio was not as good as might be expected. Nevertheless, it was sufficient to broadcast. Bearing in mind all the parameters at work during a live event – PC configurations, microphone, local broadband quality, transmission between servers, even external noise – the quality we achieve is amazing. I still get a thrill when a speaker from the other side of the world logs in and the sound is as if from the next room.

Webinar day
On the day of the webinar, we are kept busy with last-minute bookings. Last registrations are supposed to be received 2 hours before we start but we very often receive bookings just a few minutes before. Unfortunately, since we are already on-line by then, we sometimes do not see them in time to allow entry to the event, but we do try to accommodate such requests if we can.
Two members of eCPD staff always log on to every event around 20 minutes before the scheduled time and speakers are asked to arrive 15 minutes before. This gives us time to make last-minute sound checks, hand over the controls to the speaker, and ensure that everything is ready.
eCPD webinars and training courses always start on time – unless some emergency has occurred such as a power cut. As we start the broadcast, our job now is to introduce the speaker, run any polls and then moderate the question and answer session at the end.

Most of our events last for an hour, but we can often run over. Some course lessons last for 90 minutes. We find that people tend to lose concentration in longer sessions, and many people simply cannot afford much more time from their busy working days, so it is rare for one of our sessions to run longer than 90 minutes.

After the webinar is over our work still is not done. We have to check and upload the recording. We always make a back-up recording just in case, which is why we always have two members of staff at every webinar. Finally, we circulate any handouts or other materials to attendees, thank the presenter, and deal with any unanswered questions from the session. We then ensure that the event is available on our library of past events by uploading the recording to our streaming service and creating a new product page.

Customer assistance
Our work does not end there. Maia, our customer services director, is always on hand to help first-time attendees with technical problems and has never failed to solve such issues.

An eCPD webinar represents real value for money
As you can see, many hours of work go into each and every one of our events: from concept to delivery and follow-up. eCPD represents real value for every seat at a webinar or on a course you book. The personal service every customer receives is very much appreciated by our fans.

The team
Lucy Brooks, Managing Director
responsible for finance, marketing,
webinar content and direction, policy

Maia Figueroa, Customer Services Director, responsible
for webinar content and direction, customer services, and the library

Jessie Doppler, Associate, responsible for social media,
provides additional support when necessary