I’m continuing my answers to questions we missed in yesterday’s presentation on Webinar Production and Management. Away we go!
Scott asked: Was this seminar scheduled at noon Central because there are fewer people in that time zone? How early or late should you schedule seminars in the US?
Answer: Yes, people living in the Mountain and Central time zones get a raw deal. But they are in great shape compared to the people in Alaska and Hawaii! Pacific and Eastern times always get the most attention for companies trying to reach a general nation-wide business audience. The cold, harsh laws of demographics tell you that those two time zones account for the highest concentration of businesses. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not remotely suggesting that businesses in Chicago, Dallas, or Kansas City are any less valuable or important on an individual basis. Just that there are fewer of them than businesses in New York and Los Angeles. My general rule of thumb for public business webinars is that they shouldn’t start before 9am or after 4pm. Holding a one-hour event at 4pm is a little tricky, as some people take public transportation and bolt out the door at or before 5pm to catch their train. But I have seen a few companies offering national webinars at 1pm Pacific, which lets them get the middle of the country when they’re not at lunch. It even lets people in Hawaii join in the fun! You might want to give it a try.
Colleen asked: Some people turn off images in Outlook. Shouldn’t your basic info be in text?
Answer: I asked one of the biggest email companies this question. The answer from three different specialists was that statistically speaking, the number of people who turn off images is insignificant for a mass mailing. Yes, some do. But the power of a well designed graphic message is so strong that you shouldn’t cheat yourself by catering to the simplest technical level. Instead, make sure you do two things. First, always include a text line in a tiny font right at the top of your email, before the header graphic. “If you have problems seeing this email, please click here for a web version.” Second, don’t compose your entire email out of graphic images. Use text for the key information and use graphics around the text to spice it up. That lets text-only users see the idea of the message so they can choose to click through to the web version if interested.
Edward asked: Why no text animation?
Answer: Because it makes me seasick. I really hate text animation. Like any good absolute rule, there are exceptions, and I have violated my own principle on occasion. But usually it ends up frustrating your audience. If you start using artistic effects like flying in text from off-screen, it distracts and detracts from the power of the message you are trying to convey. If you do text reveals (either a bullet point at a time or things like typewriter effect to show the letters appearing sequentially), your fast readers are frustrated in being forced to wait for your pacing. There are very few times you can’t make just as good an emphasis and audience focus by drawing a box around a piece of text or using an arrow pointer with your web conferencing tool’s annotation feature.