One of my clients regularly hosts webinars with thousands of people in attendance. With that many people, you can bet that some percentage of them are going to have technical problems. And you are going to hear from those people!
Today was an excellent case in point. We had more than 4000 people in attendance. We showed slides, streamed presenter audio via computer, showed a Flash video, used interactive polling, and displayed a pop-up survey in a separate browser window.
I felt terrible about the webinar while it was happening. It seemed like all we were doing on the production team was fielding complaints about poor audio quality, slides not advancing, polls not displaying… It was a disaster!
And then I went back over the logs and the survey results when it was all over.
Yes, we had complaints of one sort or another from 130 people. That’s a lot. It felt even worse because some of them wrote in several times, repeating their frustration. But when I did the math, it represented only 3.2% of our total attendee count. And some of those complaints were what I call “non-critical,” such as “The sound is fuzzy” or “Can you increase the volume?”
One of our webinar survey questions was “The event system was convenient.” 3.4% said they disagreed. 91.8% said they agreed. In open-ended comments, I saw phrases such as “Excellent,” “Great presentation,” and “Best one yet!”
It can be very hard to shift your thinking to the unheard masses when you are concentrating on the problem cases. While we were responding to 130 people with problems, we were ignoring the fact that 3900 people were doing just fine.
I know that I am too easily tempted to try fixes or adjustments when I start seeing technical complaints from attendees. I want it to be perfect for everyone. But some things are simply out of your control… Your attendees have slow computers, old versions of Flash or Java, overloaded networks, outdated sound cards, driver conflicts, and myriad other unique ways to sabotage the web conference on their end.
Be careful not to interrupt the good experience the majority is having in order to fix problems for the minority. It can be a hard judgment call, but sometimes you just have to write back to an individual and tell them you are sorry it isn’t working well for them but you hope they will watch the recorded archive later. And if you have a large enough audience, you may have to write that quite a few times!