NEW DELHI: Delhi-based human resources professional Shruti Puri started registering for webinars as soon as the lockdown was announced in March. She wanted to learn about the probable changes in her sector from some of the best in the business, and found the online sessions useful. She even included some of the takeaways in the training presentation for her employers.
“But, then I realized I’d signed up for too many," says Puri, 34. “I didn’t want to be the only person not learning; all my peers register for these webinars," she says. Puri says attending the webinars was time-consuming, along with her work load, which has increased exponentially, and her MBA classes.
The lockdown has given people a lot of time and opportunity to learn and upskill, but with hundreds of webinars on offer, there’s new worry about missing out on a chance to take advantage of a masterclass. More people have been complaining about what is now being called ‘webinar fatigue’—when the sheer number of webinars, online sessions and or Insta live workshops start taking a toll.
It is easy to feel the pressure and even have a moment of FOMO (fear of missing out, for the uninitiated), but sooner or later, one needs to prioritise, believes 31-year old Deepak Pandit, a deputy sales manager with a mining and construction company. Pandit has reduced his webinar count from two or three a day to about four in one week.
“There was novelty in the beginning and it was interesting to hear various perspectives, but soon it seems repetitive. So I decided to be choosy. Now I do thorough research on the speakers, check their profile and previous interviews, and decide if it can be of benefit to me," explains Pandit.
The fact that the webinars are free is what attracts most people. “But you are paying for them with your time," explains ex-Army Brigadier and corporate trainer Sushil Bhasin, who has been conducting webinars since early March. He confesses that even hosting these can be taxing because it requires greater focus to interact and engage with an audience that you can’t see or hear.
Mridul Tiwari, 31, a manager at MG Motors, has set himself a 60:40 ratio for the kinds of webinars he attends. A majority relate to his industry, the rest are a mixed lot related to improving skill sets and personality development. “I had to narrow down to my personal and professional goals because there are just so many interesting ones out there. I also look for international webinars since they do not clash with my work hours," he says.
Webinars miss out on one important factor: networking. “People don’t go to conferences only to listen to the speakers. There is the possibility of meeting like-minded people, discussing ideas, maybe finding a business partner or an investor. These webinars at best offer a group chat window across a virtual table," says Hitanshu Gandhi. The 37-year-old vice-president of business at hyperlocal services discovery site Magicpin says there should be a seamless way to discover profiles of fellow attendees and strike up conversations with them—sort of like a Bumble Bizz. “The idea is to find a way to reach out to the person attending the webinar with me without much friction. Unless they do that, just translating conferences and events to the digital format cannot work. People will get tired and log out," he says.