My last post was something of a personal tirade about how recorded videos are inefficient for delivering information to a web audience. I promised to relate that to webinars, so here is the follow-up.
The first thing to acknowledge is that live presentations have a different dynamic and expectation than prerecorded presentations. Audiences listening to a presenter in real-time are more willing to "build a relationship" with the story and the storyteller. They will give up time in exchange for rapport.
Web viewers looking for available information on a subject are much less patient. There is no illusion that they are engaged in a two-way relationship with the storyteller. They want what they came for, they want it fast, and they want to move on to their next interest.
How do those facts impact your webinars?
1) Don't make a live webinar sound prerecorded. Your audience's gift of extra time and attention is only given to speakers who engage with them. If you sound like you are reading a script or giving a recitation to the open air, you might as well be a recording. If you don't acknowledge and interact with your listeners, you might as well be a recording. If you merely read bullet points off your slides, you might as well be a recorded Slideshare. As soon as your audience recognizes one of these behaviors towards them, they switch their response and expectations to "recording mode." You don't want that… Recording mode is a LOT less tolerant!
2) Add non-linearity to your live webinars. Instead of going from slide 1 to slide 40 in sequence, separate your information into subtopics. Ask your attendees to vote on which is most important to them and what you should cover first, next, last. You can still get through everything you wanted to say, but you give your viewers the illusion of control. They feel in charge of the content they receive.
3) Edit your archive recordings. If you don't get much traffic on your webinar recordings, this isn't cost- or time-justified. But if you do get a lot of recording views, it is worth spending extra time and effort on them. Edit the recording. Remove pauses. Remove instructions only useful to the live audience. Remove waits for poll voting. Clean up areas where the presenter had to fumble for the right words. Make the recording play back smoothly and with respect for the viewer's time.
4) Subdivide your archive recordings. If at all possible, look for opportunities to break long webinars into shorter topic-specific recordings. If the original presenter did not set up each subtopic in a way that sounds natural for it to stand on its own, record a separate introduction and closing (this can be another voice acting as an emcee) and then transition to the section of the webinar concentrating on that piece. This lets people find the recorded content of interest more quickly and easily and lets you build links between different recordings giving you more available web content and more opportunities to collect clicks.
5) Add bookmarks to your recordings. If turning your long webinar into mini-recordings is too difficult, see if you can create bookmarks allowing viewers to jump to an area of interest. Some webinar technologies have this functionality built in, with others you will have to use third-party video editing software such as Camtasia.
6) Create recordings as separate content from live webinars. This is the least efficient approach from the viewpoint of the hosting company, but the most effective and welcomed approach from the audience's perspective. If the majority of your traffic comes from views of recorded content, design that recorded content specifically for on-demand use. If you can afford it, use applications built to provide extra on-demand functionality. Brainshark lets on-demand viewers branch to different sections of content or to different recordings while tracking their behaviors. Articulate lets you create graphic-driven interactors such as hotspots, tabs, and rollover callouts. Prezi lets you create nonlinear presentations allowing the viewer to zoom into and out of detail. Adobe Captivate lets you build multi-level tables of contents to organize navigation. There are plenty of other tools as well. The goal is to give the viewer the power to quickly find, consume, and supplement information in small, easily digestible chunks.
Yes, all of these suggestions take extra time and effort. But the result is something that sets your content apart from all the other presentations just thrown onto the internet with an attitude of "sit back and take it!"