By Jennifer Gregory
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.
Did you hear about the webinar where the presenter’s dog barked the whole time? Were you participating the time the presenter slowly read the information off the slide as if she were reciting the phone book? How about the webinar last week where the presenter had no idea how to use the software and spent the whole time fumbling around?
Many companies have good intentions when hosting a webinar—but they do not make the most of the opportunity. Make a few mistakes and there goes the overall effectiveness of your webinar. With a little bit of planning, however, you can make sure that your webinar doesn’t become a cautionary tale.
Don’t be a mid-afternoon infomercial
While infomercials can be somewhat entertaining in the middle of the night when you are unable to sleep, no one wants to spend valuable work time listening to a thinly disguised commercial.
“Webinars are expected to be informative and no one is interested in an extended advertisement,” said Carson Wardo, Marketing Director at Lunawebs. “If you want your webinar to be successful, provide useful information and do it with enthusiasm and personality.”
Put the dog in the other room. Take down family photos.
The last thing you want your audience to see is an Instant Message from your spouse asking you to pick up milk. Or have them distracted by a digital photo frame in
the background with photos of your beach vacation.
Before the webinar begins make sure that you eliminate all distractions that will be audible or visible to your audience, such as unnecessary computer programs running on the screen and personal items in the background. Make sure that you keep kids, dogs and co-workers out of the room where you are hosting the presentation.
Ooops. Remember to practice.
You wouldn’t walk out on a stage to take the lead role in a play without many hours of practice and you shouldn’t host a webinar without several rehearsals. Michael Y. Brenner, Founder and Principal Consultant, IdeAgency recommends that people practice their presentation from introduction to the conclusion several times. “You may think you know your content backwards and forwards, but when you are in the middle of the webinar even the best of us can stumble,” said Brenner.
Don’t direct them to the wrong conference room, virtual style
We have all been to in-person meetings where you’ve been given the number for the wrong conference room or the leader has spent the first 10 minutes making copies because they left the handouts back at the office. Webinars offer the same possibilities for mistakes, just in a different way.
Be sure to distribute all access information to attendees several days before the webinar and triple-check the access information. Do one last equipment test on the computer, software and speakers about 30 minutes before the start time to allow time for last minute adjustments.
Put down the script and talk
Since it’s a high probability that all of your attendees know how to read, don’t make the mistake of simply reading your slides aloud. “Every presentation should be about content as opposed to a slew of PowerPoint slides,” said Ron Thomas, Principal Consultant of Strategy Focused HR. During the presentation include real life examples to help attendees apply the knowledge, talk in a conversational style and include the audience whenever possible through questions or surveys.
The time spent producing and hosting a webinar can be time that positively impacts your customer relationship and the bottom line of your business. With some thought and planning, you can be assured that your webinar won’t be the one that people are talking about in the coffee room next week, for the wrong reasons.