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Lat week I participated in a product webinar that I was looking forward to. But it didn’t go well. It was not a good “technical communication experience” at all. I had to disconnect after 15 minutes.
Afterwards I thought a bit about all the things that went wrong in that webinar and I came up with a list of “positives.” Here is what I recommend you to do to hold a successful webinar:
1) Send reminder emails not only a week or a day before the event, but also on the day of the event. Send one in the morning and another one just one hour before the event, if possible. Why? Because people are incredibly busy in this day and age of smart phones, Twitter messages, and a zillion other things competing for our attention. If you expect people to remember a message they received yesterday, write it down somewhere, and remember to look it up the next day, you’d be waiting forever.
If you know how to do it, send a OUTLOOK MACRO and offer them to click and enter the appointment directly into their Outlook Calendar. One vendor did that and I never forgot that webinar since it showed up automatically on my calendar.
2) As the moderator, please show up not only on time, but actually at least five minutes EARLY to welcome your guests. When you show up LATE, you’re basically saying “I don’t have much respect for your time and the word I gave you earlier.” When you show up late, you’ll also tend to rush through the presentation which makes everything even worse. (See next item.)
3) Do not rush your presentation even if you are used to speaking at a machine gun pace. There might be people in your audience with hearing problems, , international participants who do not know your language too well, or perhaps there is a technical problem with the way your voice is transmitted across the line.
How do you know if you’re talking too fast? JUST ASK and your audience will gladly tell you if you are speaking too fast (or too slow) or not.
4) If you have a hard-to-understand heavy regional accent, either ask someone else with a standard accent to give the presentation, or SLOW down and periodically check with your audience to make sure they are following what you are saying. If you just assume that your accent is understood clearly by everyone, you might be making a wrong assumption and wasting everybody’s time as well as your company’s money.
5) If you provide the means (usually a GUI text field with a SUBMIT button at the bottom) for your audience to send you questions, answer them. If you are not in a position to answer the questions, then do not provide the means to submit any questions. Unanswered questions create frustration and frustrated people do not follow or buy anything. It just makes plain sense, doesn’t it?
6) Always makes it painfully clear well in advance WHAT you will exactly cover in your presentation, for WHOM the presentation was designed, and what are the PREREQUISITES required in order to follow the presentation fruitfully.
Make all these three points very clear in your advance emails in order to prevent unnecessary surprises. There is nothing more annoying than a fast-talking presenter showing you things on a piece of software that you do not even own and explaining a topic that is well beyond your education or expertise level.
7) Inform your audience before, during, and after the presentation whether the recording of the session, any presentation notes, PDF files or white-paper will be available to the participants. That way you won’t leave them in suspense and prevent unnecessary emails and phone calls to your organization.
A webinar is a great way to share knowledge and to market your products and services. But when handled poorly it can backfire and damage your image and business as well.
There is no such thing as a fool-proof presentation “on the automatic.”
All webinars need careful advance work and a thoughtful presentation to keep in tune with the audience. If you follow the above 7 recommendations your job might get just a bit easier. Good luck.