It snowed here in North Carolina this week. Yes, I’m going to relate that to webinar tips… Just watch.
The first snow of the season often reminds me of one of my favorite movies: Groundhog Day. Snow moving in plays a key part in the plot. No, we have not got to the webinars part yet… It’s coming up soon.
In the movie, Bill Murray finds himself reliving the same day over and over. At his lowest point, he asks a rhetorical question about what if every day was exactly the same and nothing you did mattered?
After moderating a series of mediocre client webinars lately, I’ve found myself thinking about that scene. Those of us who work in the industry sometimes feel like we’re in the movie “Groundhog Day” – We give the same advice, over and over, yet nothing seems to change. The basics of giving a good online presentation have been covered time and again… in this blog and in other articles, courses, blogs, and yes… webinars.
The basics are not complicated. You already know what they are, because you complain every time you attend a webinar that doesn’t pay attention to them:
- Set Expectations – Build promotional materials that describe the content in enough detail to let the right audience find you and elect to attend. Don’t gauge your marketing performance by how many registrations you can get. I would rather have ten people who end up satisfied and willing to return than 100 who go away thinking that my webinar and my company are a waste of their time.
- Meet Expectations -- Make sure the presentation gives people exactly what they showed up expecting to hear. Ensure that content creators and presenters study the promotional materials so that the presentation references and satisfies the promises that were made in the description. Stay focused and deliver value quickly and clearly.
- Be Interesting -- Slides full of bullet-point text are not interesting. Presenters who read text off the slides are not interesting. Monotones are not interesting. Reciting long data dumps or lists of facts are not interesting. People who don’t sound interested in or enthusiastic about their own subject are not interesting.
- Prepare For Presentation – Complete slides well before the delivery date. Make sure they get reviewed, proofed, and made cosmetically consistent. Give presenters a tech familiarization with the webinar software and how the event will run… Who has which responsibilities, who hands off to whom, how long is spent on each segment. Demand that presenters practice their delivery so they know what they will say, how they will say it, and how long it will take them to say it.
- Prepare For Follow Up -- Know what materials will be provided afterwards for attendees and how they will be provided. Create handouts and have them ready immediately following the session. Have a point of contact selected. Have follow up emails prepared and approved by stakeholders, ready to go out quickly.
- Optimize Audio And Video Quality -- Use wired connections over wireless if possible. (This is one disturbing trend we often can’t control… wired Ethernet connections are increasingly difficult to find, and many computers don’t even offer cable connectors anymore. However good you think your wifi signal is… It isn’t good enough to carry high speed audio and video for a solid hour without a glitch creeping in somewhere.) Don’t use built-in laptop microphones and speakers. Don’t use smartphones. Don’t use speaker phones. Don’t use “iPhone-style” earbud headsets with the microphone built into the cable. Don’t use a laptop webcam shooting up from your desk into your nostrils.
While these basics are not complicated, they are not convenient either. You don’t have the time. You don’t have the personnel. You can’t get schedules to match up to get the team together in advance of the webinar. You can’t dictate what hardware and connections your guest presenters use. I get it.
You know what? You don’t have to do any of these things. You’ll end up with a kind of okay, marginally executed, forgettable webinar… Just like everyone else’s. That is your prerogative.
But you have a choice. Just like Bill Murray’s character in the movie, you can make a conscious decision to improve. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes the will to break out of the trap of convenience. The rewards are a webinar that stands out from all the other stuck-in-a-rut presentations out there. Something that makes people want to come back and build a relationship with your company. That can be an awfully nice feeling. You should try it!