Hardly a week goes by without my receiving an invitation to attend a webinar.
I’ve tuned in to many of them over the years and learned a lot from the content presented. But I’ve also learned that too many presenters fail to prepare properly and their ineptitude drives attendees to an early departure.
Prepare and Practice
You don’t have complete control over the technical part, and I feel for presenters when the webinar goes awry. I’ve had the experience of receiving error messages and having to log in more than once. Hopefully, the technology will continue to improve so that becomes less of an issue.
Still, you shouldn’t wing the presentation. This is particularly important when you’re discussing a technical topic, such as how to navigate Google Analytics or how to build a website. Too many presenters assume the audience knows more about the topic than they do. No. That’s why they’re attending your webinar.
They want clarity and not a display of your technical prowess.
Follow These Tips
Nobody says you have to be perfect. But you need to understand your audience’s needs and communicate in easy-to-understand terms.
- What is your topic? Clearly state the topic of your webinar and book the expert speakers, who may be with your own company or from outside. Be sure each speaker has a designated role to play and they don’t step on each others lines.
- What are the information needs of your audience? Is this an audience of beginners or are they knowledgeable about the topic and looking for more advanced content? Consider including a survey with your invitation to ask what they want to know. Discuss the content with a few people in advance to be sure you’re on track.
- Engage your audience. Consider polling the audience during the webinar to keep them interested and engaged. The audience feedback will also help you to tailor your remarks.
- Stay on time. The ideal webinar is 60 minutes or less including time for Q&A. Don’t use up the entire hour and then tell people you can’t answer their questions. Have someone monitoring the question box to identify the most asked questions to start the Q&A. The speaker(s) should not waste time fumbling through the questions when they’re finished talking.
- KISS. Keep the slides simple, no more than 4-5 lines of type. Use graphics to illustrate how something works. Instead of citing the name of a reference book, use an image of the cover. When you’ve finished creating the PowerPoint, go back and replace as many text passages as possible with images. It’s deadly for the audience to read all copy slides.
- Practice and then practice more. It’s quite obvious the speakers haven’t practiced when the facilitator introduces them to each other for the first time on the webinar. Book time with the webinar provider and have a practice session for the all the speakers, who should be sitting in a quiet room, away from noisy distractions. Each panelist must speak clearly and not rush their words. The audience can’t see them so their voices have to carry the load.
- Provide a link to the presentation. At the conclusion of the webinar, send attendees (and people who registered but didn’t attend) a link to the presentation and recording. Your audience will love it if you also provide a written transcript, especially if the speakers spoke too fast or were indistinct.
- Ask for feedback. Send a follow-up survey to the attendees so they can evaluate the seminar. Then use this feedback to improve the next webinar you sponsor.
- Don’t sell too hard. It’s OK at the beginning of the webinar to give brief bios of the speakers and their companies. But don’t do a big long commercial either at the beginning or end of the program. We know why you’re doing the webinar and don’t need to be reminded with the whack of a 2×4. I recently registered for a webinar and within a few minutes, I received a sales call weeks prior to the presentation. That was a total turn-off.
Your audience has given up precious time in their busy day to tune in to your webinar. They deserve your best. Treat the participants as respectfully as you would your best client. Then maybe someone in the audience will become one.