Seth Godin likes to blog deceptively simple little thought pieces designed to make you consider how to apply his high-level concepts to your business. Today he posted a piece entitled “Do you have a people strategy?” The summary takeaway was this:
All of these media are conduits, they are tools that human beings use to waste time or communicate or calculate or engage or learn. Behind each of the tools is a person. Do you have a story to tell that person? An engagement or a benefit to offer them?
Figure out the people part and the technology gets a whole lot simpler.
This caught my eye because I run into this concentration on technology and tactics all the time in the webinar industry. When working with guest presenters before a webinar, the emphasis is almost always on features:
- Here is how you draw an annotation on a slide
- Here is how you send private messages
- Here is how you run a poll
Don’t get me wrong… These are useful things to know. Making good use of those features can indeed improve a webinar. But I wish more presenters and organizers would spend time on the fundamentals of relating to audience interests, making people want to listen to you, and driving people to new knowledge, beliefs, or actions.
Because as Seth says, thinking only about the tools can too easily distract from the real concern of relating to people on the other end of a rather impersonal communication channel. Your job as a webinar presenter is to look beyond the technology to the people you are trying to educate, influence, or collaborate with. Using the technology well can aid you in your task, but it isn’t the thing that is going to make or break your presentation.
I work with many different web conferencing products. Some have more features than others. Some implement them in different ways. Some have fascinating bugs that prevent me from accomplishing a communication goal in the way I intended. For instance, one well-known product gives me problems when I attempt to use its annotation tools to draw a box or line on my slide while displaying it. The screen tends to go black for me and my attendees. Does this mean I can never highlight a particular point on a slide? No, it just means I think harder about how to verbally communicate to my audience what is important, rather than relying on a tool feature to do it for me.
But even that is a minor tactical detail. Much more important is what I do before the audience ever arrives. I look at the marketing materials that have driven them to attend. I think about their selfish self interests. I plan ways to quickly and explicitly address those priorities in my presentation. The presentation is about the audience… Not about the facts I want to deliver or the tools I use to deliver it.
Are your presentation priorities in order? Are you thinking about the people first and the technology/tactics second? A good presenter and a good presentation do not rely on the tools used to transmit the information. They have a fundamental understanding of and empathy with the people listening. Figure out that people part and the technology may not get simpler, but it becomes far less stressful and critical to your success.