Once Upon a Webinar

Screenshot of game app

Once upon a time, an engineer ‘Nour’ from the future was faced by a huge challenge where the air pollution forced humans to stay home as the air became no more breathable. As an engineer in a Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab), all his work and teaching was based on hands-on projects and interactions. He kept wondering how he can  transform teaching digital fabrication to a virtual platform while keeping the quality of learning process and the hands-on skills. An idea popped up in his mind to send a message to the past, to year 2020 in specific. He knew 2020 was the pandemic year where humans faced the same challenges in Fab Labs. He decided to send his message to my Fab Lab as it had a significant experience during this period…

This is how I started my speech in the webinar about the future of Hands-on Education in Fab Labs during the pandemic where everything turned to be virtual. I was asked to transfer my Fab Lab’s experience during the pandemic in education. I started taking my audience on a journey using some mechanics to engage their senses in my presentation while injecting the knowledge along the way.

I am a kinesthetic visual person who has always hated attending webinars and town halls!

Someone talking for more than 60 minutes and I am supposed to listen with no interaction. My attention span has always failed me in this!

Ironically , I was invited to speak in this webinar. I was really excited with the experience then I got shocked when I realized that I will be talking to 100 attendees at the same time! How am i supposed to keep them engaged and save them from the trap of boredom and disengagement that i have suffered from all my life from attending webinars!

In times like those, I always search for a new inspiration! So I started browsing my Netflix account for a new series. Actually I found a new one about the apocalypse and the future. This is my favorite genre. Here comes the moment of Eureka!!

Let’s tell a story about someone from the future who needs help.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools which gets your audience emotionally engaged. They might get engaged because they empathize with the hero or because they feel that they are on a mission to save the world. We need that to grab their attention.

So here are some tips that I gained from the experience.

Break it to small chunks:

Break your content into the smallest chunks possible so that you don’t overload your audience with BIG concepts!

Come up with your story plot:

Getting inspired with stories can be via reading, watching movies or TV shows and playing GAMES!

[You can get some inspiration about structure in this article about Narrative Structures – Editor]

Use milestones

Audiences tend to get bored. Some of them like to see the whole overview so a progress bar or any indication would help a lot. Also it would help in their sense of achievement. They would feel they are done with a big task and finished one of the milestones. You could also add a ‘Hurrrrray’ sound by each milestone to keep the spirits up!

I use milestones corresponding to points in my agenda. I keep showing my audience the map once we finish one of it.

Examples, Examples, Examples!

Examples are very important things to include during any online webinar. Talking about only BIG concepts with nothing to relate to, might get your audience frustrated.

Try to connect:

Try to talk to your audience through chat where they answer questions, share what they have in mind or make a poll. You can also use platforms like Mentimeter.com if you have time to wait for them to connect to the other platform.

Let’s use more stories in our Online experiences to make it more engaging and more human!

Follow me
Education Program Specialist at Giza Systems Education Foundation
Norhan Zahran graduated from the faculty of Pharmacy, Ain Shams University. She started working as a volunteer with children in different training programs since 2011. Then she started training the coaches. That’s when she discovered her passion for Education. After spending five years working in pharmaceutical industry, she decided to quit, pursue her passion and commit to transforming Education. She worked as a science teacher. Then she received her ICF (International Coach Federation) certificate as a parenting coach.

As a gamer, she decided to combine both her passion for games and education through applying Gamification techniques when she joined joined Giza Systems Education Foundation (GSEF) as an Education Program specialist. She believes learners deserve better quality of education which should be a fun enjoyable journey.

Let the games begin!
Follow me
Latest posts by Norhan Zarhan (see all)


  1. Hi Norhan. This is a great set of tips for making using storytelling an effective tool in learning. I especially like the idea of drawing inspiration from movies, TV and books. Those are the wellspring of our shared culture, and so can help you to create stories that already speak to shared symbols, ideas and tropes. Great article.

  2. Beautifully narrated 🙂 and extremely relevant to today’s reality.
    Many activities, education being one of them, have been moved to online platforms. Besides the technical hurdles, there comes the part of learning how to engage the audience.

    I loved your tips. One more I would add (purely from a practical point of view) is to have someone monitoring the chat/Q&A as the presenter is busy talking.

    If you want to make an attendee feel disappointed, ignore their question.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.