We had more questions than time in my webinar for the Australian Businesswomen’s Network this week. I just received the unanswered questions and thought I would post answers for all to see.
Shan: If you have a home office, do you suggest doing your webinar from there, or going to a more professional environment – away from possible interruptions from kids or dogs barking?
Answer: A home office can work great as long as you can isolate yourself from those distractions. I am astonished at how many times I hear dogs barking on webinars these days! Put the dog in the garage or outside while you are presenting. You need to make it very clear that you are not to be disturbed by family members during your webinar. Now I realize that there are all kinds of practical considerations here and I’m not going to argue with caregivers. Taking care of the wellbeing and safety of your children is always the first priority for a parent... I’m not an idiot. The question only arises if there is leeway in your arrangements. Would you take your children into your boardroom or a client location while making a presentation to important audience members in person? If not, then your webinar audience deserves the same respect. Children, loud radios or TVs, and any other distracting noisemakers must be silent during your presentation. If you can’t guarantee this, you should consider looking for an alternate location. But don’t lock the kids in the garage.
Zakia: How can you find out about the composition of your audience? Are they skilled knowledge workers, trainees, etc.?
Answer: Ask them! This is a perfect use for web conference polling. There are two important things to remember, however. First, don’t make that poll the first thing your audience sees. Give them some piece of value they came for first. Once you have established that you are ready and able to provide what they came for, you can ask for response and input from them. Second, make sure you frame the question in terms that make responding valuable for THEM rather than for YOU. “Let’s find out together who is in the audience with you. That will help me frame my presentation and give you the information that will be of the most value for you.” Something along those lines so it doesn’t seem like a purely selfish demographic survey for your own benefit.
Steven: How do you handle age differences? I am 35 and some of my audiences are 50+ with twice the work knowledge.
Answer: This is usually more of an issue in our own minds than in the audience’s. The quality of the information you provide and the quality of your presentation skills in making it clear and engaging are the keys to audience satisfaction. As a matter of fact, a webinar can be easier than in-room presentations for young presenters. Your physical age is not apparent and doesn’t cause “bias on sight” in your audience’s minds. The key thing to remember with audiences of varying ages is to watch out for references to cultural touchstones that are not relevant to all. Illustrating a point with lyrics from a Lady Gaga song is unlikely to work for people with more connections to lyrics from an Elvis Presley song (and vice versa). By the way, don’t overlook the collaborative possibilities of web conferences. Ask your audience members to contribute examples and solution strategies from their experiences. You can make that extra work knowledge out there a vital part of YOUR presentation!
Barbara: Where is a good place to get graphics from?
Answer: Use a search engine and type in “Stock Photography.” You will get plenty of sites with photographs and illustrations that can be purchased for a few dollars and used without further royalties in commercial presentations. This is the safest route to avoid potential legal problems with photo reuse. istockphoto.com is the oldest and largest repository, but it is one of the most expensive as well. My current favorite is dreamstime.com for their advanced search features. Flickr.com has a Creative Commons area that offers many user-contributed photos for free if you give attribution in your presentation. Microsoft also has an image repository online for photos and clip art. I know I’ll get comments from people who are angry that I didn’t mention their personal favorite source. There are a lot of sites. You can use Google Images to look for photos on existing web sites, but this should only be done to help stimulate your thinking about possible types of photos related to a concept. If you steal a picture from someone else’s web page, you are setting yourself up for trouble down the road! SpiderPic is an interesting new site that helps you find out whether the same stock photo is available on different sites, so you can find the lowest cost.
Thanks for your questions and participation!