Webinars are not effective. Video is not engaging. PowerPoint is not persuasive.
These are examples of metonymy. Each keyword is being used as shorthand to convey other attributes or content with which it is associated. James Thurber gave memorable examples of metonymy in his short story "Here Lies Miss Groby" - where he remembered learning about "Container for the thing contained" and wondered whether you could flip the concept to use the "Thing contained for the container."
Consulting firms, research analysts, and industry pundits love using metonymy. The problem is that it trivializes real problems and shifts focus away from useful improvement strategies.
Look at any major marketing survey and you'll see graphs and statistics showing "most effective marketing content: White papers, newsletters, webinars, emails…"
Read webinar blogs like mine or Mike Agron's WebAttract and you'll see discussions of whether streaming video content is effective and persuasive.
And who hasn't seen or heard people talking about how awful PowerPoint is for presentations, and how it should be banned as a presentation tool?
All such blanket statements are of course meaningless. Webinars, video, PowerPoint, telephones, headsets… These are merely tools. Technological means employed towards achieving a business goal. Some people use them well and get great results. Some people use them poorly and get disappointing results. And some results are influenced by factors entirely separate from the tool being used. I was giving a product marketing webinar on September 11, 2001. It was not very effective in getting our company any new business. Is that because webinars are an ineffective medium?
The question you should be asking is not whether the tool IS effective. You should be asking whether you can practically and pragmatically USE the tool effectively to accomplish your business goals? Are you willing to spend the time and effort necessary to employ it to best advantage? If not, you should probably choose a different tool that better suits your personal preferences.
If you plan to fill up PowerPoint slides with text sentences, don't use PowerPoint. Write your sentences in a Word document and distribute it to your audience. You'll be more effective.
If you plan to put yourself on video captured from a built-in laptop webcam, pointing up at your nostril hairs, with harsh fluorescent lights over your head while you try to sneak glances at your presentation notes… Don't use video. At least not for a public lead generation webinar where you are establishing the audience's first perception of your company, products, and professionalism.
If you plan to "wing it" in your webinar without rehearsals, technology testing, and technical support for the presenter… Perhaps you should rethink whether that technology is the right one for you.
I don't use American Sign Language, Cantonese, or Russian when I present my messages to mass market audiences. Why not? They are effective communication methodologies. Millions of people are influenced and persuaded by them. While I could take the time to learn to use them effectively, I haven't yet.
Instead, I use tools I have invested time in to learn best practices… English language with good vocal presentation habits; visually-oriented PowerPoint slides that support my vocal presentation; well-structured, tested, and supported webinars. Sometimes I even set up proper lighting, backdrops, costuming, and camera technology to use live video. But only when it's worth the effort to reach my audience with that communication medium.
Because while the opening sentence of this blog is true, the following is just as true:
Webinars are effective. Video is engaging. PowerPoint is persuasive.