All About Teleseminars: Should You Add Phone-based Training to Your Services Offerings?
By Karyn Greenstreet
copyright © 2009, by Karyn Greenstreet. All rights reserved.
What is a Teleseminar?
A teleseminar is a class, workshop or lecture delivered over the telephone. It gives students access to training materials they might not be able to find in their local community, and allows them to learn new material without having to travel.
The teacher is usually called a teleclass leader or teleseminar leader. Their job is to create and foster a learning environment where people feel free to ask questions, share ideas and challenges, and discuss the class materials. While some people have a natural ability to teach via telephone, many people find that attending a teleclass leader training program helps them learn specific techniques for phone-based training.
How do Teleseminars Work?
The teacher and students meet via a teleconference line (also known as a telebridge line). As you can imagine, chaos might reign with so many people on a teleconference line, so generally-accepted teleclass etiquette guidelines have been created to help foster the conversation without people talking over each other.
Teleseminars can be a one-time event, where everyone meets on the phone for one hour, or an ongoing series, where everyone meets once a week for several weeks or even months. The more sophisticated the topic and the more in-depth the training agenda, the longer students meet with the teacher. Often during series-style teleseminars, the teacher will assign homework to be completed between class meetings. This helps the student to apply what they learned that week to a real-world situation or project.
Because teleseminars are primarily an audio format, teleclass leaders often provide handouts that students can download from the teacher's website, visual supplement to the audio teleclass. Traditionally these handouts are in PDF format so that most people can open them. However, some teleclass leaders use Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint slideshows, Flash slideshows, and other downloadable content to help the learning experience.
The calls are typically recorded so that students can download these audio files to their computer or iPod/MP3 player, and listen again at their leisure. This helps to cement the learning and allows students to refresh what they have learned whenever they need to, sometimes months or years later. In this fashion, a teleseminar becomes a life-long learning opportunity for the student.
What Types of Teleseminars are There?
- Lecture style – In a lecture teleseminar, the teleclass leader has a set agenda of information to share. Typically all the students are put on mute and listen to the information being presented. While this may seem like a passive way to learn, it is usually a very condensed way to learn as well. A well-designed lecture teleclass will give the students a huge amount of learning material in a short period of time which can be an effective way of learning for some.
- Interactive style – In an interactive teleseminar, the teleclass leader lectures part of the time, and has set aside time for questions and answers and participatory exercises. This style of teleclass is appreciated by the adult learner who likes to mull over what is being taught and apply it immediately to their own situation. Interactive teleclasses also create a lively atmosphere, full of energy and excitement, fostering a deep learning environment.
What are the Benefits of Teleseminars?
For the student, it is a chance to learn a wide array of topics without having to leave home or the office. Some adult students have a very busy life and teleseminars allow them to quickly get training in one-hour increments without having to travel to multiple destinations. Student can even learn while on business trips. Because there are no travel or hotel costs associated with teleclasses, students can save money.
For the teacher, it is an opportunity to teach students from across the nation and around the world. Many teachers add teleclasses to their service offerings as a way to meet new prospective clients, share their ideas more globally, and increase revenue.
For everyone concerned, teleseminars are a great way to meet other people, especially if the teleclass leader encourages participation. Some leaders will create an online message forum, where students can continue the discussion between phone calls, again fostering both community and continued learning. If the teleclass is recorded, students who miss a session can still access the recording and catch-up with the lessons before the next class session.
Teleseminars are beneficial to both the student and teacher, offering both distance learning and a community environment that home-study courses lack. Whether you teach teleclasses or take a teleclass as a student, you will gain positive experience and a great new network of friends.