I keep hearing that webinars are an effective sales tool. What’s involved in doing my own? —Evelyn T., Hamilton
I’ve attended several interactive online seminars or “webinars,” and they worked on me as sales presentations and distance-training tools—without ever forcing me to leave my desk or drink that horrible coffee from catering. If you really want to do your own webinar production, you can use software such as Microsoft Producer (it’s free) to stitch together the components of a typical webinar—from a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by pre-recorded audio to full-blown video and Web pages—and then post your event on a Web server for people to “attend.” If that sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, you can enlist the help of a webinar service provider, such as WebEx Communications. Just upload your files to the service provider, pre-record your pitch over the phone or deliver it live, and they’ll do the rest. Pricing? That’s a toughie. You could pay $75 for the most basic, do-it-yourself “online meeting” or $1,500 for a whiz-bang Web conference assembled and assisted live by a dedicated producer.
I want to organize a softball team for my employees. Should I be concerned about liability? —Angelo P., Toronto
Do you need a decent cleanup hitter? Sorry, I digress. The short, loud answer is yes! The labour lawyers I consulted said the only way to avoid liability is not to have a company softball team. But if you think on-field activity will dramatically improve on-the-job performance, then at least require players to sign a release explaining that participation is at their own risk, constitutes a recreational activity and is not part of their job duties. The release lessens your legal liability, but you could still get sued if Bob in accounting steals home and tears his ACL in the process—or Jane in marketing loses it over a bad call, throws her bat into the stands and knocks out an innocent bystander. Which takes us back to the value of limiting your involvement: if you’d merely supplied the jerseys, had done none of the organization and hadn’t administered the league or playing venue, you’d have a good chance of fending off a lawsuit.
One of my staff posted some negative content about my company on her Facebook page. How should I respond? —Rashad A., Calgary
She has time for Facebook? Must be nice. I discussed your problem with several legal and HR experts, and they all said your response should depend on the severity of the content. If it’s pretty harmless—say, she trashed the company picnic—a warning and request to delete the material would be most prudent from a legal or employee-relations perspective. If she refuses, refer her to the part of your employee code of conduct that prohibits this sort of behaviour. (Don’t have one? Whether you force the issue depends largely on your appetite for being sued.) Now, let’s say the content is highly egregious—perhaps a false accusation that you are intentionally double-billing customers. In this case, you could legitimately terminate her for “breach of the duty of loyalty to her employer.” That’s lawyerspeak for malicious conduct that diminishes a company’s earnings potential. Finally, what if the content is highly damaging and true? In that case, you should probably seek legal advice from someone other than a magazine intern!