I love word games. Sit me at a Scrabble board and I'm good for hours. So one of my favorite time-wasters on the computer is a nicely programmed (and free!) online game called Letter Linker, available on GameHouse. It takes a while to load while they show you the inevitable ads (does ANYBODY watch those?), but then plays very smoothly. The game is basically just the classic box game of Boggle... you get a grid of random letters and move from letter to letter, linking them to form words from three to five letters long. Find enough words and you can move on the the next level, where there are fewer letters and linking routes.
Is this going somewhere? Yes, give it time...
I was reading the latest entries in Seth Godin's blog (of whom you have heard before in these parts) and noted that he spends a lot of his air time presenting analogies. He'll throw out a news item or a web posting or a noticed incident from his life and invite you to relate it to your business methods and their effect on your results. As it was late and I was free associating, it occurred to me that Letter Linker was chock full of juicy analogies to things you should be thinking about in your webinar planning, production, and promotion.
1) You can be much more effective in the game when you have some key letter combinations stored away as automatic fallbacks that you can use while you are searching for something new and unusual. When I see an E, T, A next to each other, I quickly form ATE, EAT, and TEA without thinking about it. Same thing for EAR, ARE, and ERA. Those aren't worth much in the way of points, but they calm me down, get me going, show some progress, and they are part of the overall contribution to the goal. When presenting on a topic, you should have some key points and phrases that you have worked out and said so many times that they are second nature. They provide a comfort level, they help move you along, and they flow very naturallly. It doesn't have to be a big deal, but it should be something you don't have to struggle with to put into words. By the way, a one sentence descritpion of your company should ALWAYS fall into this category.
2) The game displays all possible words on the board at the end of each round. This way you can see what you missed. I always get frustrated when I find that I made a word and then missed the extension to add an S or a D to make another word (eg: I found RATE but didn't notice that it was next to an S for RATES and a D for RATED). Look for opportunities to leverage what you've already developed. You've done the hard work... now see if you can make use of the same webinar elsewhere, maybe pitched to a different audience. Can you make the recording available in places where the live version wouldn't have worked? Can you add a few special interest slides and turn a generic topic into an industry-specific topic? Don't reinvent the wheel when there's still value to be gleaned from existing work.
3) I don't think I've ever completed a round where I found every possible word on the board. You can sit and search over and over, sure that there is no combination left that you haven't seen. And then the display comes up and there is a linkage that is immediately obvious once it is shown to you. As you make your presentation points in your webinar, keep explicitly linking your content to your main topic and message takeaway. People in your audience will not see conceptual links that seem obvious to you. Show them how each piece of information links to the next to support your message.
And so on. I'll leave further analogies as an exercise for the reader. Have fun, and if you make it farther than level nine, I want to know about it!