Project Management Institute

Virtual leadership


Lessons learned from a high-pressure webinar.


I recently delivered a webinar encompassing eight time zones and up to 300 project managers. To say this opportunity was a little intimidating at the outset would be an understatement.

I was approached some time ago to present on people management, leadership and facilitation in the project context. But scheduling during a hectic project delivery made my participation difficult. I volunteered to work with a peer group from the host organization that facilitated project learning. We had a successful webinar thanks to these elements:

  1. The hosts were very clear on what they wanted for their audience.
  2. They reviewed other work I'd done to establish whether I could deliver.
  3. They created a core team to facilitate learning in the project management community of their organization.
  4. We initially established lines of communication by email and subsequently using telephones and Skype.
  5. We had clear dialogue on their community and the challenges they face, and preempted the topic based on concerns raised within the community.
  6. We had a full run-through with technology nine days prior to the event.
  7. We began our preparation for the live broadcast 1.5 hours ahead of time, which allowed for full testing of slides, microphones and running order.

The webinar environment can be very challenging, particularly when the presenter cannot see recipients or interact with them during delivery—as in this instance. Thanks to the inclusive teamwork that preceded the live event, I felt I was delivering to a group of colleagues who already were engaged and anticipating enjoyment of the presentation. The host team was inclusive and welcoming, and despite being in a different time zone in London, England, I was welcomed as a team member as well as a speaker.

It always is challenging to step out of my comfort zone to deliver in such a context, but I'm delighted I did so. I gained so much from the experience including:

  1. Met a new team of professionals whom I can now call colleagues
  2. Became part of a team that prepared and delivered services to its project community
  3. Worked with a core team that is equally passionate and committed to people management in the project context

Tools, techniques, processes and templates all are useful enablers, but leadership and management of people truly facilitate success—as my hosts most ably demonstrated. PM


Sheilina Somani, FAPM, PMP, is the owner of the U.K.-based consultancy Positively Project Management, a project manager, a speaker and a mentor.

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