Category Archives: Tips
The webinar, in its own right, is an effective marketing tactic. A timely, relevant topic, a compelling speaker, a thoughtful promotional campaign, a reasonable registration page and voila! Leads! Piece of cake, right? So wring every dollar, dime and last qualified lead from your efforts.
Your webcasting software has editing tools. Pick a killer clip and – ta dum! – you’ve got video. Seems like a marketer can’t go a day without hearing how video’s the next content/SEO/social panacea. Why not leverage existing assets to create interesting multimedia content. (No time or patience for editing? Your webinar services provider can do the editing for you.)
Blogger’s block? Solved. Key pieces of your webinar should translate to compelling blog posts. Bonus points for using the webinar archive registration page as the post’s call to action.
Hit a home run? Can you use your webinar success as the basis for a white paper? Could be a great way for adding another asset to your content marketing library. Bonus points for turning out a white paper rich enough to warrant…another webinar.
You’ve got friends. Fans. Followers. Pre- and post-webinar, give them a license to drive your content across the web and see where they take you.
Got other ideas for getting more mileage from a webinar? Let us know.
In 2011, 1:00 p.m. (ET) was the most popular webinar timeslot – by a handy margin – according to our 2011 Webinar Timing Report. Logical, right? US-based event organizers get bi-coastal coverage with midday events, so of course 1:00 is a top slot.
Except…while it’s purely anecdotal at this point, there just might be a shift happening. Over the past few weeks we’ve had an inordinate number of early morning webinar requests. Think 8:00 a.m. ET early. Are clients trying to consolidate US and European audiences? Are organizers thinking that a webinar participant with fresh eyes and a cup of coffee is preferable to a participant with a cold sandwich and overflowing inbox? Or are the days just so packed that earlier isn’t so much the better as the only option?
If you’ve moved to an early webinar timeslot, why? And how has it worked for you and your audience?
1984. Kidding. Sort of. True, there are times when the content isn’t visual, the group doesn’t need it, etc., etc., etc. But why are so many conference calls held when a web conference would be more appropriate?
This is the way we’ve always done it. We don’t have/have never used/don’t have time to learn/don’t have budget for the technology. Our people don’t know how to use/don’t want to know how to use/don’t appreciate technology. They’d still just dial in anyway so what’s the point?
And we used to use typewriters. Budgets get found. (And p.s. there are loads of free tools these days…) Old dogs learn new tricks. And some may dial in, but the point is, a simple tweak can turn your meeting on its ear. Put faces with names. Stop asking whether everyone has page 93 of the document in front of them. Launch a quick poll for feedback. Use written Q&A to unleash ideas from the shy quiet types who don’t generally speak on the call.
We recently helped a client move a recurring conference call to a web conference format. Not only did half the participants join via the web conference – on the first outing – but their post-conference feedback was overwhelmingly and extremely positive. Why not see if you can teach your old dogs a new trick? They might just surprise you.
We were recently asked what it is that our clients most often use webinar software to do. The clear, overwhelming answer: to share PowerPoint presentations. In a BusinessWeek remix of the always enjoyable PowerPoint bash (Death TO PowerPoint – oh what a difference a preposition makes!) the stats certainly form a basis for an explanation. My favorite – for better or worse – 350 PPT presentations are delivered every second.
On the basis that 349 are terrible (my exaggeration, not BW’s), the piece offers presenters alternatives to the PPT crutch. While I loved the butcher paper idea (I’ve used it myself), the suggestions were largely focused on in-person presentations. So how to pull the PPT crutch in a webinar environment?
It’s not quite the same as having a marker in hand, but your webinar software does have a whiteboard. Your hurdle is a bit higher since your audience is in a visual vacuum if that whiteboard is blank, but if your story is compelling and your illustration/annotation is quick, it can be a powerful tool.
A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
No matter what type of content you’re delivering, you can speak conversationally to a compelling visual. Steer clear of clip art, of course, but peruse your organization’s content library as well as Creative Commons-licensed images to illustrate your idea. The simplest schematic, chart or graph you can create can make your technical or numeric point far more powerfully than a spreadsheet with 8 point font.
Less Is More
As BW suggests, it’s not necessarily PPT that’s the problem. At a minimum, use the above ideas to reduce the number of slides in your deck and to create more whitespace on the remaining slides. If all else fails, provide your audience with the webinar equivalent (typically an emoticon of some sort) of Jones’ bell and heed their feedback.
So what’s your best tip for delivering information rather than a PPT presentation? Share it in the comments.
One’s not over and one’s not yet started, but it seems to me that convention buzz has drowned out any other news. Maybe it’s that I live in the DC metropolitan area. Maybe it’s that my husband is a political news junkie. But just maybe the organizers of this year’s conventions had a few tricks up their sleeves that could be applied to your next webinar.
1. Events may be outside your control, but communications aren’t.
Significant storms are forecast to rain out the President’s outdoor acceptance speech at next week’s Democratic convention. Republicans were forced to rework speakers and schedules due to Hurricane Isaac. Clear and confident communications kept both in control of the media cycle.
If you’re well-prepared for your webinar and something outside your control happens, you’ll be equally prepared to impress attendees with confident communications.
2. People love a little mystery.
To be announced. Those three little words sparked a “who could it be?!?” furor the likes of which I haven’t seen since childhood guessing games involving Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum. Can you intrigue your webinar attendees?
3. Social IS. Embrace it.
There’s an app. A lot of them, actually. And hashtags. And fan pages. And… And the point is, if it’s remotely relevant, it’s social. Is your webinar?
Want to break the rules and talk politics? Make a comment.
Not an accusation of mediocrity, but a serious question. If your webinar production was graded on consistency, would it pass or fail?
Content is king, so of course it makes sense to focus on it – topical relevance, timeliness, presenter expertise, effective delivery – in the webinar planning process. Dedicating time and attention to consistency, however, is an important part of getting your content seen and heard.
From promotional efforts (email, SEO/SEM, social, etc.) to and through the event site (landing and registration pages, confirmation/reminder/follow-up emails, surveys, etc.) are you giving participants a consistent experience? Does your event have a strong, participant-focused message? A clear visual identity? A call to action that actually compels action? And is that reinforced throughout your participant experience?
Unforgettable is wishful thinking, it seems. While the following tips seem almost painfully obvious, the frequency with which presenters flout these basic rules suggests they’re worth stating again and again and again. Have other pet peeves? Tell us about them in the comments.
1. Close unnecessary applications.
Okay, maybe the screensaver of your kids is cute, but no one needs to see the Outlook reminder of your dental appointment or the IM invite to the department happy hour. As for applications, what if the one you forget to close is Excel? What if the active worksheet contains your company’s confidential financial data? Invest a few seconds to close unnecessary applications.
2. Think about what’s in your browser.
If you’re planning to take your participants on a web tour of your company’s new software, say, consider clearing your browsing history first. While browser history can be convenient (there’s the software link) it can also be confusing (is that link for development or production?). It can even be downright embarrassing. Clear the history and have the right URLs at the ready.
3. Use a landline and headset.
You know you need a private, quiet space to present, and that cell phones are a no-go. So you dial in on your landline and…place it on speakerphone? Between the HVAC, the computer, the keyboard, the mouse, the shuffling of your notes…it probably sounds like you’re presenting in a tunnel. Connect a telephone headset and your audio quality will improve exponentially.
Are you logged in appropriately? Are your materials loaded and ready? Do you have a rough sense of how quickly they appear and transition for your participants? Can you hear clearly through your headset? Is your mic placement ideal? Remember how to navigate through your materials? Through Q&A?
5. Be early.
If we had to boil it down to one tip, it’s this – be early. This means having time to complete each of the four previous tasks. Time to adapt when your co-presenter is missing in action. Time to print out your slides in case you lose power. To paraphrase the old Dry Idea commercials, it means never having to let them see you sweat.
Bodies in the seats may be the most universal metric for webinar effectiveness – both because it’s easily quantified and universally applicable. Webinars are conducted every day because they’re “effective,” but webinar hosts can’t always clearly articulate how and why that’s true.
If you were challenged to justify your investment in a webinar production, what metrics would you reference? We’re throwing out a few ideas, but would love to hear yours in the comments.
- Leads (Quantifiable by volume, cycle time, cost of acquisition, etc.)
- Compliance (Execute compliance requirements quickly, cost-effectively and verifiably)
- Growth (Email lists, communities, social following, etc.)
- ROI (Demonstrable hard and soft savings as compared with onsite events)
- Durability (Worthy content that reaches a wider geographic audience over a longer time period)
There are a lot of very good trainers out there. They command the room, and the attention of everyone in it. They deliver course content with practical, tactical examples and ideas, and with zeal. They read the room and pace accordingly. They interact with trainees. They remember they’re human and so are their trainees.
But they don’t always cut it when they try to take their shows online. So where do trainers go wrong when they go virtual? Here are three mistakes we see that are easily fixed and highly impactful.
The medium has changed – should your materials? Quite possibly. If your trainees aren’t watching you, think about giving your slides a second look. Are they visually stimulating – in a relevant way, of course? When there’s nothing but the book, the cover may matter more. If you typically use “in-room” tactics during your live sessions, can you adapt them to a webinar? With a little prior planning, anything from simple hand-raising to small group breakouts is possible to get and keep trainees engaged.
As a trainee, I’m alone in my office. I do have a phone and a mobile and IM and email and text messages and… I don’t have the ability to ask the colleague next to me to repeat your last point. I can’t glance around the room to see whether my lack of understanding is unique, or whether others in the room are unclear. And since I can’t easily catch your eye with a raised hand, I may be intimidated to speak up.
Your virtual attendees are more than their avatars, so make it a point to interact with them on a basic, human level. Encourage questions early and often. Allow trainees to ask those questions in different ways; brave souls may prefer verbal, while the timid may feel more comfortable sending a chat. Weave in several Q&A breaks throughout, and think about whether there are trainees you know and can “call on” to spark discussions during those breaks.
It’s a totally different experience, let’s be honest. You get no visual cues – no nods of agreement, no smiles of recognition, no perplexed looks. You can’t see trainees scribbling furiously when they’re finding your content particularly worthy, and you can’t see surreptitious glances at cell phones when you’re off track. You’re staring at a presenter software dashboard and a phone. So how do you stay tuned in?
Bringing a colleague into your office during the session can provide a sounding (or “seeing”) board, for starters. Then take advantage of your webinar software platform to “take the pulse” of your audience. Throw a slide on your whiteboard and ask trainees to interact with it; placing a check next to a frequently encountered challenge, for instance. Focus the next segment of your session accordingly. Launch a simple poll and then show and speak to the results. By staying attuned to your trainees, you keep them tuned in to your content.
Sweltering through day four of a DC-area power outage in July, it occurs to me that a few power-less preparedness tips we rely on may come in handy for webinar organizers. So keep your cool when a storm hits by making contingency plans.
Thinking “now what?” after the storm has knocked out power and your newly filled fridge has ground to a halt is…not ideal. Around here, we clean out coolers, make extra ice and fill generator gas tanks when inclement weather is forecast.
What can you do on the webinar front? Answer the question “what could go wrong?” before your webinar. You’ve done the 101 stuff, of course; your presenters have hard copies of their materials, and you have soft copies you can run, just in case. Your presenters have alternate lines (even cell phones, in a real pinch) just in case they lose phone connections. You have back-door (cell, IM) ways to reach them in an emergency.
But are you ready for that emergency? Let’s say your keynote speaker goes missing in action. What are the decision-making criteria? When must the final decision be made? Having an “emergency preparedness” plan in place makes for better, faster decision-making and relieves a little of the stress.
Thinking “who should I call?” after the mercury hits the triple digits is…not ideal. Around here we figure out who we will turn to before the kids and the dogs start panting. To use the same example, again, your keynote speaker goes missing in action. Who’s going to work the tracking down angle? Who’s going to evaluate the options? If it comes down to it, who’s going to make the go/no-go call? Who’s going to communicate with webinar registrants?
Things happen. Over many years I’ve personally been involved with the missing speaker scenario on more than one occasion, in fact. Whether the call is reverting to a backup presenter, reordering the agenda or postponing the webinar, what your webinar attendees will make note of is how you weather the storm. So keep your cool knowing your plan and people are in place – just in case.
And if you’ve got any ideas for saving your sanity – not just your groceries – in a blackout, share them in the comments!