I experienced my first webinar as a facilitator on May 16, 2017 at the Center of Excellence in Finance. Our international virtual classroom gathered experts from Romania, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark and Australia, and participants from Europe and Australia, to address the topic of modern tax administration. Find out in a few steps how to survive a webinar and why it is important in online business and learning in the context of public financial management, tax administration and beyond.
Step 1: Address the topic
Have you ever asked yourself how important it is to articulate the right content and formulate the subject? For the starters of a webinar meal, you win if you choose the meticulous targeted topic. Thank you, Tina Zagar, for facilitating this and paving the way.
We learnt about Influencing Taxpayers Behavior and tax compliance. In taxation, as in many other areas of expertise, behavioral insights, behavioral sciences and behavioral economics mix traditional economic strategies with insights from psychology, cognitive science and other social sciences to discover the many irrational factors that influence decision-making.[i]
In May when our webinar saw the lights we were promoting the CEF Tax Policy and Administration learning program (follow our digital story on our Storify channel). Statistics are speaking for themselves: since 2010 more than 1,000 tax and finance officials have convened at the CEF exclusively for the taxation learning events. Recognizing the learning needs of our participants, coordinators and experts this year was the right moment to start with the CEF webinar series and bring our tax people into the virtual worldwide classroom. If you are interested, take a look at the February’s webinar on exploring the perspectives of Why Tax Administration Reform.
Step 2: Call for technical support
With the vision, support and guiding eyes of CEF colleagues (Ajda Turk, you are fabulous!) it was not difficult at all. Forwarding technical instructions to the participants, with speakers, knowledge of the platform, and general webinar tips and good practices (like the one to deliver the webinar in the middle of the working week) were the prerequisites to make it with ease.
Step 3: Coordinate and prepare the structure and content
And we did it by getting together experts from our constituency: Romania – National Agency for Fiscal Administration, our partners from the Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands – Tax and Customs Administration, IMF Revenue Administration Advisor, CEF Associate Fellow with the background in Irish Revenue Service, IMF and, since there are no boundaries with webinars, also the Australian Taxation Office joined us despite the eight hour time distance. We were lucky that almost all our lecturers met beforehand at the CEF face-to-face event on Changing Perspectives – From Enforced to Voluntary Compliance which enabled smooth communication and coordination among all of us.
In case you come across such an opportunity, I can certainly recommend it. Five speakers delivered inspiring presentations, showing why it was relevant to deepen into human understanding and create user-friendly products and services that taxpayers would be eager to use. I agree with the point-of-view of our Dutch colleague Bert van den Boorn who said that the brand new webinar experience was useful and pragmatic and its content valuable to emphasize the relations among compliance risk management, behavioral change of taxpayers, and changes in organizational structure and culture.
Step 4: Esthetics and balance do matter
Use less text on slides and more visuals. You have to be straightforward, focused and precise for these 90 minutes. If you facilitate a webinar with several speakers, you might find it challenging to interrupt and influence them, for instance politely asking them to bring to end their presentation when they are running out of the dedicated time.
Step 5: Keep a positive attitude
You have to maintain a high energy level, keep rolling the slides, learn, play and have fun. Communicate with the speakers and the audience: ask them questions, discuss, and encourage them to chat. Later on, you should follow up the webinar: send e-mails and recordings, and ask for feedback. Basically, all you have to do is rehearse and improve. Constantly.
Some like live face-to-face events, others prefer cyber audience, whereas I am keen on both learning solutions. I could go reflecting on my first webinar but I will leave you now to taste the whole five-course menu by facilitating the workshop on e-auditing. I promise to keep you posted on facilitating a face-to-face workshop at the CEF.
Last but not least, the webinar made it clear that it is time to change the behavior for the better. I believe that we can, individually or collectively, make small positive contributions every day. Stay tuned for the CEF, check our Online Learning Campus, and register and enroll to our next webinar on our events website. Do not forget to follow us on the social media: