The painful truth is that most webinars suck. The reasons they suck are numerous, but these are the big 3; we, I and us. Most webinars and the main presenters are excited to talk about their product, their company and themselves. That is a failing webinar strategy. Most companies who try webinars as a marketing tactic do not realize that the people in their target audience don’t care about their products, their company or the presenter. The people in the target audience care about WIIFM (what’s in it for me). The bottom line is that if the attendee does not perceive value in the webinar, they won’t register and if they do register and attend, they will bail out fast if the content is self-centered. Don’t talk about we, I and us, talk about them, theirs and you.
Here’s how you produce a webinar that doesn’t suck:
- Choose a topic that is useful to the people in the target audience. A useful topic either helps them relieve pain or helps them to enjoy a passion more. As much as we want to believe that our products are are the means to helping everyone to relieve their pain, that is not the perception of the audience. You have to give them something they can use besides your product. Here are a few examples. If your firm manufactures humidity sensors, don’t do a webinar about your sensor, do a webinar about how to make a better measurement of humidity. If your firm makes air navigation charts, don’t do a webinar about why your charts are different or unique, do a webinar about how to be a better pilot. If your manufacturing company makes digital display meters, don’t do a webinar about the attributes of the meter, do a webinar about how to be more efficient with power and wiring.
- Make the webinar fun and conversational. You may be thinking, “How can I make it conversational if I have 500 people logged on to my webinar?” Use the webinar platform tools such as mark-up, pointers, polls, quizzes and chat to get the audience to pay attention and participate. Have multiple question and answer breaks throughout the webinar, not just at the end. Give away a prize or two during the webinar. Laugh and crack a joke once in a while. If the speakers have fun, the audience will have fun while they learn about what matters to them.
- Don’t talk about yourself, your company or your products. As soon as the speaker starts to drone on about his company, your audience will zone out. It’s important to tell the audience who is presenting the webinar, but do it in one or two sentences at the most. I like to say something like “This webinar is presented to you by Acme, manufacturer of custom widgets, but we don’t talk about the widgets during the webinar because it is strictly educational. Naturally, if you have questions about Acme widgets, we’d love to hear from you after the webinar.” It is important for the audience to know who is giving them this valuable, pain-relieving information and it also puts the audience at ease in that they haven’t been duped into sitting through a sales pitch.
- Use at least two speakers. Yes, webinars suck if they have one speaker talking over slides with no interaction. Use at least two speakers. Two speakers can interact and have some fun. Two voices and two personalities are much more interesting than one. Even better, use two speakers and a question moderator for a total of three personalities interacting and engaging with the audience.
If you do just these four things, your webinars will be light-years ahead of most, but it doesn’t stop there. One of the things that can make or break a webinar is the infrastructure. Speakers should be on a high quality headset connected via a land line if possible. Speakers should avoid using cell phones or VOIP phones if possible since they can cause poor sound quality.
Finally, practice is important. Do not allow your subject matter experts to just show up at the live broadcast without attending any practice sessions. Not practicing is a sure fire way to guarantee that your webinars suck.
Check out the Webinar Toolkit page for some additional helpful resources.
Watch the KMI ‘How to Webinar‘ series.
Request a Free Webinar Strategy Brainstorming Session from Bruce McDuffee, Principal Consultant at KMI.