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Katherine Morton Letitia Henville

Collaborating on a Webinar: Two Editors’ Perspectives

Two people turned toward each other are leaning against a desk with their arms crossed.
Two people turned toward each other are leaning against a desk with their arms crossed.
Copyright: sunethsanjeewa

Katherine Morton and Letitia Henville’s webinar, “Working with Other Editors: What, Why and How,” will be presented live on October 24, 2023; the recording will be available for purchase shortly thereafter. 

Have you ever wanted to deliver an Editors Canada webinar but felt uncertain about taking the leap? You don’t have to leap alone — you have the option to Thelma and Louise your webinar. 

Preparing a webinar is a labour-intensive activity with uncertain financial returns. I make more per hour editing than I do preparing for an Editors Canada webinar, so unless I’m able to deliver that webinar to multiple audiences, the return on investment can be low. Can be — unless you share the labour.

And that’s just what Katherine Morton and I are doing. Knowing that I enjoy collaborating, and having seen some of my previous webinars, Katherine emailed me in April 2023 to see if I wanted to co-deliver an Editors Canada webinar with her. In May, we partnered on a pitch for a webinar called “Working with Other Editors: What, Why and How.”

Now that we’ve drafted our speaking notes and prepared our slides, Katherine and I interviewed each other to share our thoughts about the process of collaborating on a webinar. 

Letitia Henville’s perspective

I delivered my first Editors Canada webinar in April 2020 and since then have delivered dozens for editing associations, scholarly societies, research groups and graduate courses. As a former university instructor, I find that webinars allow me to scratch an itch to share knowledge and exchange ideas about topics that intrigue me. That I get to do so without also needing to grade assignments — every teacher’s least favourite task — is an added bonus. 

Letitia Henville: What am I like to work with as a webinar co-author?

Katherine Morton: You’re amazing! I appreciate your gentle, professional approach. You consistently have great ideas and are open to suggestions from me. 

LH: You told me that you were feeling a little uncertain about proposing a webinar on your own. How are you feeling now?

KM: I was uncertain. I have presented and facilitated many workshops and webinars, and I’ve been a guest lecturer, but I’ve never given a webinar for Editors Canada before, so I wasn’t sure if my proposal would be accepted. I appreciate that you agreed to co-present with me — you are a seasoned Editors Canada webinar presenter, so I’m in good hands with you as a partner. 

It can be intimidating to host a webinar on your own. You’re sitting in your own office, and your audience is silently watching on the other side of the screen. You don’t know what they’re thinking — or even if they’re listening. If you’re new to presenting webinars, it can be helpful to find a co-presenter. You can bounce ideas off each other, edit each other’s content and know that someone is there supporting you as you present.

LH: We came up with an outline together, but wrote our halves of the webinar separately. We then gave one another a bit of a structural edit for coherence and flow. Looking back on this process, what do you think of it? Is there anything you’d recommend others do differently?

KM: The process has been great for me. We work well together, sharing ideas and suggestions and supporting one another. I think that’s key — to find a co-presenter who is compatible with you. You and I both like outlines and getting things done sooner rather than later. I would have trouble developing a webinar with someone who tends to do things at the last minute. 

I like how, at the beginning of the process, we worked together live in Google Docs, developing our outline and listing resources. By watching each other add information during a video call, we sparked ideas in each other that we could add to the material right away.

Katherine Morton’s perspective

I’ve been delivering in-person workshops since the early 2000s, but that was during my previous career in non-profit management and international development. Prior to that, I taught English at a junior high school in Japan. Like Letitia, I like to share knowledge through teaching. I changed my career when COVID-19 changed the world. As a relatively new freelance editor and Editors Canada member, I wanted to co-present with someone who had delivered webinars for Editors Canada and understood their audience better than I did.

Letitia was one of the first people I met through Editors Canada. I hosted one of her webinars and learned about her collaborative approach. I thought she’d be the perfect person to partner with, so I asked if she’d like to co-present.

Katherine Morton: What am I like to work with as a webinar co-author?

Letitia Henville: I got the impression early that you’re an organized person who is on top of her game. When you emailed me, you’d make a suggestion, attach a document and outline proposed next steps — which were always logical and accompanied by a deadline. 

Working with you made me want to raise my game. I think of myself as a bit of a disorganized waffler at times, like that image of the duck who appears to be gliding gracefully when in truth it is a frantic scrabble of legs and feet under the water’s surface. You impressed me with your professionalism. I wanted to mirror that back to you in our work together. 

KM: I believe you have co-created other webinars. How do you know if someone is going to be good to work with?

LH: I don’t know that you can know ahead of time, to be honest! How people seem when they email and chat can be totally different from how they seem when they start presenting. 

I once delivered a webinar with multiple speakers, and we had a strict (and clearly communicated) schedule that we were meant to keep to. One person went dramatically over time, didn’t see our attempts to cut her off and made it impossible for the person who came after her to share what they’d prepared. I felt terrible. I knew how much work this other person had put into their presentation, and as the one who had brought the group together, I felt responsible for what I perceived as this one speaker’s lack of respect. It’s not an experience I ever want to repeat. 

But sometimes things can occur during a webinar that are outside of your co-presenter’s control. Someone could be great to work with and still experience a power outage. So, I’ve learned that we need to have plans in place before the webinar starts in case something goes wrong. 

Instead of trying to ensure that collaborators will be good to work with, I just work with people. I do my best to trust my gut, and I make sure we discuss what we’ll do if anything goes awry during the webinar. We exchange phone numbers in advance, and during the technical set-up before the webinar, I check that we both have our (silenced) cell phones in our eyelines so that we can exchange texts or phone one another if we need to. I prefer cell phones to Zoom’s built-in chat because speakers can’t always see the chat, depending on how they’re sharing their screen. 

Trust your colleagues. Expect their best, but plan for the worst: that’s what I’ve learned. 

KM: What are the differences between co-developing a webinar and designing one on your own?

LH: When I create a webinar on my own, I have to prepare all the content — the slides, the script, the handouts — and market it by myself (or with the help of the organization I’m delivering it for). 

I’m proud of my solo-authored webinars, but collaboratively authored webinars come with additional audience benefits of which they may be unaware. When I collaborate on a webinar, I’m preparing only half the content, and the audience is benefitting from two experts’ perspectives, recommendations, best practices and handouts. 

Certainly our upcoming webinar is jammed with high-value content! It benefits from having both our brains involved. 

About the co-author

Katherine Morton is an Editors Canada certified copy editor. She has been editing throughout her more than 20-year career and has been freelance editing for the past few years. With a master of business administration and a former career as an international non-government organization executive in program management, operations and strategy, Katherine is an expert in efficiency and organization. She edits mostly academic and corporate materials, often for multilingual writers. When she isn’t simplifying and clarifying content for her clients, she’s outside running, cycling, hiking or swimming.

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Previous post from Letitia Henville: How (And Why) I Developed a Digital Tool for My Freelance Clients — And Then Gave It Away for Free

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