Category Archives: Tips
In 2011, marketers ruled the day when it came to webinar promotion. They invested in advertising, email and social media efforts more frequently than their training counterparts. They tracked sources, evaluated the most successful channels and adapted efforts accordingly. They were rewarded with double the “bodies in the seats” compared to their training counterparts.
Trainers, on the other hand, trounced marketers when it came to converting registrants to attendees. They consistently created attendee-focused content and allowed it speak for itself. They were rewarded with a 33% higher conversion rate (registrants to attendees) than their marketing counterparts.
Make your next webinar a knockout by stealing an idea from your opponent.
• Promote effectively
• Ask WIIFM?
Don’t Forget SPF
Of course you’ll save the beachwear for the beach, but don’t forget to remove the sunglasses perched on your head. Slather on the sunscreen after your presentation, though; zinc oxide creates a pale effect on camera.
Sounds of Summer
Waking to the sound of the surf…soaking up your kids’ poolside squeals…The sounds that make your summer vacation may make your webinar attendees want to take a long walk off a short pier. Scout your vacation location for a quiet space guaranteed to stay that way for the duration.
Got to Wear Shades
The sunny weather you hoped for may make your webinar participants wish for rain. Your webcam placement determines whether you’re a well-lit presenter or overshadowed by a blinding backdrop. And while treating your attendees to a little seaside scenery may seem like a good idea, a neutral background prevents unnecessary distractions.
It’s not just a fun game for the kids on a rainy afternoon. Your temporary digs have an internet connection, of course, but what kind of connection? I recall a beach house with a dial-up connection… Taking a minute now to ask the realtor or resort about connectivity may save you from a very unpleasant surprise at webinar time.
You prepared before you left the office. You planned logistics from booking through packing. You prepared when you set up at your vacation location. You delivered an effective webinar. You pre-planned all the follow-up communications and activities, so flip that switch, turn the out of office on, slather on the SPF and enjoy!
Don’t do it until you’re sure
Lots of preparation is required. The logistics can be complicated. It’s not something you can just knock out in an afternoon. You’d better be sure you’re ready before you decide to go forward, because you’ve got to be in it for the long haul to succeed.
Expect the unexpected
You’re not in it alone, so things won’t always follow your plan. Accidents happen. Just because you’ve done it once doesn’t mean the next time will be the same….or even remotely similar. Consider and plan for possible surprises and you’ll probably be ready to roll with the totally unexpected punches.
Reward your audience
Show them a little love and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Got a hot webinar – or potty training – tip? Let us know in the comments.
Saturday’s Kentucky Derby gave us 2:01.83 of pure excitement, and a few equally fast notions for webinar success.
Attract a Crowd
The adrenaline-fueled two minutes of any race is great, but surely Saturday’s record-breaking crowd contributed to the raw excitement that was the 2012 Derby. Work your marketing magic (mint juleps optional) to put bodies in the stands and fuel excitement for your webinar.
Bodemeister grabbed the crowd’s attention early, turning in the fastest first five splits in Derby history. Reel your audience in with an equally attention-grabbing webinar opening.
I’ll Have Another closed strong, becoming the first horse in Derby history to win from post position 19. Don’t disappoint your audience by fading in the stretch – ride your momentum all the way to the roses.
To paraphrase Dickens, the Q&A portion of a live webinar can be the best of times or the worst of times. When your presentation or your final presenter wraps, do you feel like you’re standing on that little platform without a net? Or do you know what it takes to get a great Q&A session rolling?
Call for Questions
Give people the chance to ask questions before the event starts. Use your webinar registration page to offer a call, or use the moments leading up to your live event to solicit questions. This will prepare you to launch the Q&A with real-world questions that are top-of-mind for people on the call.
Use your webinar software’s chat feature to capture questions throughout the presentation portion of your webinar. This approach can net those timely, topical points that participants might otherwise forget by the time you open the Q&A.
Verbal questions scare some presenters. They scare some participants. If you’re thinking about a live Q&A, plan ahead – for both sides’ sakes. Some presenters are outstanding off the cuff; others prefer to get their ducks in a row in advance. Give your presenters the opportunity to offer their best insights by preparing a list of anticipated questions in advance of your webinar. Some participants have great questions but can’t bear to break the ice. If you know a participant or two on the call (colleague, customer, industry expert, etc.) consider asking them in advance to get the ball rolling with a question or two. Typically, once a good conversation starts it snowballs.
There are times when it’s fair to screen questions. Sometimes participants ask questions out of scope for the topic at hand. Sometimes an internal questioner raises an internal question on an external webinar. Fair enough. But cherry picking just the softballs and screening all the hardballs? That’s a no-no. Hit a couple of those hardballs out of the park and you might just enhance your credibility with your audience.
Got a great idea for getting great questions? Tell us about it.
While scrambling to gather the last bits and pieces for the tax man, it hit me: we’d do well to take a few lessons from tax day when it comes to webinars.
Make a copy
You’ve got a file cabinet packed with copies of W2s, receipts and past returns for a reason. Having a copy of your webinar presentation is an equally good idea. Imagine your computer crashes 10 minutes in to your presentation. Scenario A: You “vamp” while attempting to reboot. I’ve been in this audience. It’s not pretty. Scenario B: You make a folksy remark about Murphy’s Law and ask your colleague or producer to take presenting rights and advance the slides while you continue seamlessly from the hard copy you printed just in case.
Don’t wait until the last second
You won’t see me on the 11:00 newscast live from the Post Office on April 17 (procrastinators of the world, rejoice in those two extra days!) but I’m not done, either. If you leave your webinar preparation to the eleventh hour a) it shows in the delivery and b) you have zero margin for error. Leave enough time to make sure your deck is loaded and looks good, your audio and web connections are solid, and everyone is clear on the event flow. Your audience will thank you for a polished, professional event.
Prepare to be audited
Webinar technology can do it all. You can record your event. You can keep the chat log. You can save your whiteboard. Should you? Did you? Consider the implications of keeping content before your event, and make certain to configure your webinar software accordingly.
Learned any lessons (webinar or tax) the hard way? Let us know in the comments.
People judge books by their covers. Fast Company offered a few good tips for cleaning up your cover in its light-hearted Webcam Glam piece. While avoiding nose hair and backlighting are great tips, here are a few more you might want to consider.
Make It Up
Whether you’re using the external camera Fast Company suggests or a high-quality internal one, image quality can be uncomfortably good. (Can you image Nixon/Kennedy in HD?) A little makeup magic will make a world of difference in what your audience sees and perceives.
Don’t Make It Up
You’ve planned your message, right? Winging it leads to likes, ums, ahs, as I was sayings and other fillers that detract from your message. Don’t make it up as you go. Make a plan, walk through it beforehand, and your audience will see a credible presenter.
You’ve taken the advice on stripes, colors and prints. You know whether suits or shirt sleeves are appropriate for your audience. Your attire is camera-ready. Before the show goes on, check the little details. If you have the choice of glasses or contacts, choose contacts; avoid glare and let your audience see you, not your frames. There’s nothing wrong with jewelry, unless it’s the wrong jewelry. Swing-y and sparkly pieces can create annoying reflections; dangly can be audibly jangly and disruptive. Err on the side of modesty and, when in doubt, remove it.
Reading Is Fundamental
But it’s fundamentally wrong in the case of a video conference. And don’t kid yourself – the audience can tell. You’re an expert on the topic and you’re using the medium to humanize the message; don’t undercut that effort by reading from a script. Talking points are fine, run-throughs are recommended; put them together and you’ll appear confident but not scripted.
Sit. Stay. Good Presenter.
Okay, nobody is asking you to sit with a biscuit on your nose for the duration, but consider your movements carefully. The first time I watched myself back on camera my head swiveled like I was at Wimbledon, my eyes flicked around the room like an auctioneer’s, my hands never stopped moving and I felt seasick. The camera amplifies action, so use smaller gestures less frequently (another place a run-through comes in handy!) than you would in real life and your audience will follow your message, not your movements.
Committed a video conferencing faux pas? Have another pet peeve? Tell us about it.
There was an interesting Lifehacker post today on the impact of environment on productivity. The linked Hack College post focused specifically on studying, which got me thinking about the many trainers we work with. You all have the unique challenge of creating a productive learning environment for yourself and – blindfolded – for a virtual classroom filled with students who are miles or worlds away.
Start at home. Or the office, or wherever you’re teaching from. Sure, your webinar software should let you mute participants to minimize background noise, but that’s the easy and obvious fix. Paper shuffling, coffee gulping, office background noise, even a static-y headset can all grate on your students over time. Create a quiet environment for yourself, and share that peace with your students.
You’ve set up a functional workspace for your event – computers and phone lines at the ready, backup copies of instructional materials just in case, glass of water, etc. Your students are everywhere. Can you take a few moments at the beginning of your class to help them create a similarly functional environment? Invite them to consider a question key to the topic at hand while taking two or three minutes adjust their environments for productive learning. (Get a coffee, clear the desktop, shut the office door….)
In a webinar format, this is a frequent concern for trainers – how to keep the many and varied distractions pulling at students from disrupting the learning process. It doesn’t hurt to ask, for starters. Students are in your class for a reason – whether mandatory content, perceived value or otherwise – so appeal to their good intentions. Commit to the timeframe (and honor it) and ask that they do the same by shutting down their inbox and IM, switching off their mobiles, setting office lines to DND and closing office doors.
Have a trick for creating a productive webinar learning environment? We’d love to hear your comment.
Janine Popick’s Inc. piece (apart from making me wish more of our All-Hands meetings included pizza) got me thinking about why some Town Halls flourish and some flounder.
The best webinar hosts must’ve been Scouts in their youths, because they’re always prepared. They plan every aspect of the event – topics, speakers, agenda, promotion, logistics, etc. – and they leave enough runway to do it right. They expect the unexpected – overbooked executives dropping out of or off of meetings with little or no notice, power or internet outages, etc. – and they make contingency plans so that the show goes on.
Do It Right
Every day, in a thousand little ways, the best places to work show employees they are valued. All-hands webinars are no exception. The best hosts set up professional A/V so that remote attendees can easily and clearly hear speakers. They incorporate quality visuals, and make all materials readily accessible. They encourage remote employees to be part of the meeting – sharing ideas, participating in Q&A, etc. They keep the lines of communication open, making all-hands webinars a regular and valued part of the culture.
Popick keeps the momentum going with post all-hands pizza, and that’s where many webinar hosts fall down. Don’t send your webinar attendees a virtual pizza, please, but do challenge yourself to keep momentum. The best hosts schedule follow-on meetings, or split company-wide webinars into departmental breakouts, or launch polls or surveys post-webinar to keep the buzz going.
Found a trick for making your webinar flourish? Know how to keep momentum? Share your idea in the comments.