Why do you start your webinar by introducing the presenter? No, honestly. Think about it… People come to a webinar for two main reasons. Either they really want to hear the information that has been promised or they really want to hear from a particular speaker who has been advertised. In neither case do they need or want to start the session with a biographical backgrounder on the speaker. If they care about the speaker, they know the person's credentials already. If they care about the topic, you are wasting their time in getting to the promised value.
I want to be clear that I am not advocating against a moderator leading with some necessary introductory comments and then handing off to the presenter by name. But this should be a one-liner: "And now, let's hear from Bob Loblaw, head of social discourse for AggroCorp. Bob, take it away." Name and title is all you need.
- "But a strong biography builds credibility!" - Unnecessary. The presenter has perceived credibility associated with her by the mere fact of her function as the presenter.
- "But people expect it!" - Not as much as you think. They are delighted to start receiving value more quickly.
- "It gives latecomers a chance to join without having missed anything!" - Yes, let's penalize the people who cared enough to show up on time in favor of an unknown number of people who may or may not show up an unknown number of minutes later.
Several webinar technologies have the ability to add biographical text for each presenter. Attendees can click on it if they want more detail. I encourage the use of this feature. If your technology doesn't have that, make a PDF with the presenter names, pictures, and biographies. Include contact details if the presenters agree. Make the PDF available as a handout in the session. Does your technology not allow handouts? Make a dedicated web page with the same information. Publish the link in the chat.
A single-topic webinar is NOT the same as an all-day symposium or TED Talks conference. People are not sitting around waiting to be surprised by the next topic and the next speaker. They have made a commitment to listen to a very specific topic and presenter. Do them the favor of respecting their priorities and ruthlessly trim anything that delays delivery of value.
I hereby pledge that from now on as a webinar guest speaker I will request that my hosts eliminate my biographical introduction. I'll try to earn credibility and respect from the value of my content and the quality of my presentation. I may not always win the battle, but it's worth the fight!