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C0_Host Producer

Hi to all;

Rob Austin here.

I work for the American Job Center system, which is the national arm of the Dept of Labor.

They have decided to keep centers closed for 2021.

So all workshops need to be delivered via Zoom.

Many of the unemployed attending these workshops will be mid to late career workers. With average tech skills at best. The design that we have developed has videos, whiteboard, google docs and break out rooms. Workshop size 12 to 16.

We have put a paid co-host into our proposal. The Directors are questioning the need of a co host. They say the other vendors are not including that.

However, the other vendors are delivering a webinar. Which amounts to a lecture via a static power point slide show. Participant functions are simply mute/unmute the mic.  We anticipate all  kinds of trouble shoot issues when the particpants have to use different mediums. Thus the co-host can be a great asset in letting the class be delivered smoothly!

Any professional opinion on whether a co-host is needed?




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  • Hi Rob,

    Thanks for the context setting.

    I think it’s worth referencing some research about engagement in learning and how it sticks and people can apply that learning more successfully, which will ultimately make the training more valuable and cost-effective.

    We have a thread about producers here, which may have some nuggets for you.

    I think emphasising your approach versus what others might do is the key.

    What do others think?

    Producing webinars and virtual classroom sessions
    Hi all, I've got a document here about the different types of producer roles you might be involved with over the coming weeks: Click here to download…
  • Hi Rob
    At Good Things Foundation we work with a similar low tech skill audience (lots of UK jobcentre referrals) and you're spot on they need more support. From getting them connected and fixing audio to coaching through using the various tools, to just having a set of eyes on the chat panel while someone is presenting we always have two people on sessions.

    We also did a knowledge exchange with a commercial organisation training team, they also advocate having two hosts or presenter/producer. they include it as backup for tech issues, having a variety of voices/tone and post-session to help reflect and improve before future delivery. Reflecting on your own delivery can be fraught, we're often our own worst critic so I took that point onboard.

  • Hi Rob

    We ventured into virtual classrooms in 2020 for the first time. We have always used 2 hosts so far. initially it was probably through a fear of tech problems and simply not being used to facilitating virtually and producing. We have though, had fairly consistent feedback that our learners prefer to have 2 different presenters- they found a change of face and voice more engaging.



  • Kevin and Sarah:

    Thanks for adding to the discussion.

    Being on this site with Mike, Jo and you all, has been fantastic.

    • Rob, that's lovely to say, and just what our Lightbulbers are all here for :D 

  • I would say it's vital, especially for troubleshooting. It's nearly impossible as a presenter to deliver great informative content and not get thrown off or distracted by somebody writing in the chat 'Has everyone else lost the audio?'. Having a back up to handle things like that, especially if you're using break out sessions is a must!  

  • Great comments from everyone! I have a few thoughts also.

    • The feedback your producer or co-host can provide after the session can be extremely valuable on multiple levels

    The instant feedback and support to the facilitator can not only improve their skills but also their confidence when they deliver future sessions.

    Depending on how you have the relationship working with your producer (internal to the organisation or external) they can potentially provide feedback on how the design of the session can be improved. They have a different viewpoint from the facilitator and can spot areas that went well or could be improved. This type of information can be invaluable to future iterations of your live online sessions.

    • Producer who hosts the start of the session 

    A producer who introduces the sessions and gets attendees using the tools before passing over to the facilitator can make the sessions feel more professional to the attendee and that they are in a safer environment and well looked after.

    • Attendees feeling connected and heard in the session 

    An attendee who asks a question in chat and never gets a response or the facilitator comes back to it 3-5 minutes later can make them feel disengaged from the session. This can make them feel like what is the point of engaging in the session and all the negative connotations of that. 

    An attendee who asks a question and even if they just get a reply from the producer saying they have informed the facilitator of the question can make them feel valued and heard. 

    • Producer value

    Many of the training sessions or webinars we run we get a question at the end… “Do I need a Mike” (Do I need a producer). They ask this because for whatever reason they have felt during the session or sessions that I have provided value and improved the session. Sometimes they can’t even pinpoint exactly what it was I did that made think they will need a producer but they feel they do.

    It is extremely hard to quantify a cost to benefit ratio for having a producer on your session and then justifying that. Especially if you are looking at a cost X times Y sessions and you get a big number. 

    What I will say is that with a Producer I think you will likely be able to gain:

    • More professional looking session, especially if something goes wrong
    • Attendees feeling cared for with dedicated support
    • Attendees feeling heard with a better connection to the session
    • Greater confidence from your facilitator
    • Potential for valuable feedback from the producer point of view
    • A greater potential for positive attendee feedback on the session 

    And lastly! A higher degree of chance that whatever your session is there to do will succeed!!

    This information hopefully provides some tangible context and makes that cost to benefit ratio conversation a bit easier to ponder and reflect on.

    • Awesome responses. I'd summarise the need for a co-host as 'two minds/eyes are better than one' and you have even more potential for connecting with your participants.

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