Landscapes - Summer 2016 - (Page 56)
JIM URBAN LIVE - CONdUCTING A WORKSHOP
It's been eight years since well-known
tree expert, James Urban, FASLA,
published up By Roots, his seminal
manual on managing trees in the urban
environment, but he continues to be a
self-confessed, real-life Lorax, the Dr.
Seuss character who speaks for trees...
When he recently co-hosted a webinar,
I decided to listen in. Then, in a followup phone interview, Jim and I discussed
some of the benefits of the increasingly
common medium of webinars.
PRESENT A LECTURE in front
of a live audience, and you get
immediate feedback. Present a
lecture in a webinar, and you have
to wait a bit. When the feedback
arrives, it's in the form of online
questions submitted at the end.
As I listen to Jim's voice (he is
explaining how collaboration is critical
to keeping tree needs front-andcentre of any project), I wonder who
else is listening. I am surprised to
discover that as many as 250 people
attend Jim's webinars, and that
they are listening from across North
America, the united Kingdom, Italy,
Australia and the Netherlands.
Later, when Jim temporarily doffs
his (metaphorical) tree hat to share
tips on the webinar process, he
mentions this clear advantage of the
medium: he is based in Annapolis,
Maryland, yet he can connect with
scores of people continents away.
56 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES
HOW TO PRESENT A
Jim prefaces our phone conversation by
clarifying that he does not believe that
webinars should replace conferences.
"I still believe in the networking that
occurs before and after conferences," he
says. But a webinar can save an awful
lot of time. "A lecture for 200 people
can involve at least a day's travel."
Factor in the low cost of producing
a webinar (one popular platform I
researched, gotowebinar, charges $90
a month to reach 100 people), and the
webinar option becomes a financially
interesting way to spread your message.
So what does it take to host a good
webinar? Jim offers some key pieces
A webinar involves a "tremendous
amount of work," he says. Jim gives
himself two to three months to
prepare. Webinars need to be well
researched, so that the information
will stand up in the public realm. If
hosting jointly with another person,
it also takes time to dovetail two
presentations into one cohesive lecture.
And don't forget the graphics. Jim
spends a full two weeks on his images.
As an aside, he warns against using too
many words on any given image. He
refers to Mark Twain's famous maxim
on the difficulty of writing succinctly.
("I didn't have time to write a short
letter, so I wrote a long one instead.")
Verbosity is easier than brevity. This is
"so true in PowerPoint images," says Jim.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Choosing the right topic for your audience is
key, yet by nature, the audience of a webinar
is self-selecting. Jim sometimes canvases
the attendee list before the webinar.
Depending on the audience breakdown
- for example, the ratio of designers to
contractors - Jim will tailor his presentation
to provide the right balance of information.
PROMOTION IS CRITICAL.
Leda Marritz, Creative Director at DeepRoot
Green Infrastructure, has developed a list
of invitees that includes people who are
likely to spread the news. She sends out
invitations seven to ten days before the
webinar, asking people to forward the
email. She also uses Twitter, asking people
to retweet. People do help, she says; Jim's
webinars "elevate the broader practice."
When done well, Jim says, webinars
are a wonderful way to share knowledge.
Then he dons his tree hat again, and like
Dr. Seuss' Lorax, who speaks for the trees
because the trees have no tongues, he
says: "Whatever we can do, we need to
do, to make sure trees are looked after."
I do a mental double take, realizing
I've recently attended a good
webinar on the very subject.
For a sample list of Jim's webinar topics,
visit his website at jamesurban.net
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Summer 2016
To Begin With
Spotlight on Schools
2020 Vision: 3 University Landscapes
Active Praxis, Hybrid Practice
Entangled With the Real World: Experiential Learning
Les Jardins De MéTis: A New Landscape Lab Emerges
Vivarium: A Sky Condo
Getting Digitally Dirty: Improvisational Bricolage in the FABlab
A Smile on the Lips
How to Present a Successful Webinar
The Last Word
Landscapes - Summer 2016