Tag Archives: webcasting how to
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?
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.
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.
A few weeks ago we answered the oft-asked “do I really need training?” question with a strong affirmative. If you are an AT&T Connect Event Services user, visit our Training Center for a technology intro, a planning and configuration primer or to build a foundation in the platform’s presenter tools.
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?
You’re presenting because you’re an expert, of course. But if you’re not an expert in the specific webinar software you’re presenting with, your audience may never know. Yes, every webinar software platform enables you to deliver content online. Every webinar software platform does that a little bit differently, though, and there are more and different features from one to the next. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
Does the platform you’re using require inserting or sharing content? Optimizing or encoding content? Will your webinar console look different based on the configuration choices you make? Webinar training will help you make the best pre-event decisions, most quickly and efficiently.
How does your platform handle transitions between presenters? Slides? Types of content? How do you manage its chat function? Polls? Surveys? Verbal questions? Webinar training will help you navigate within your platform quickly and confidently.
Clear content, timely delivery and smooth navigation through the webinar software will go unnoticed by audiences. Content that’s not optimized for the platform, delays and fumbled transitions will not. Investing an hour in training on your platform will ensure your audience sees your expertise, not your webinar software.
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!
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.
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.