7 Tips to actively avoid the burden of success…
It is remarkable that, after 10 or 15 years of webinars becoming established as a mainstream from of communication, more than 50% of broadcasts still break most of the simple rules of education and entertainment and thus deliver a disappointing experience that, in turn, leads logically and directly to a poor audience outcome and commercial failure.
Helping the audience is not a crime
Here we take a light summer look at 7 webinar crimes and offer some heart warming and desperately needed remedies for the worst behaviours on air.
If your crime sheet is long or you are a serial offender, good news. We offer you an amnesty. Just don’t do it again.
7 Webinar Crimes
- I will deliver a formal slow start for my intellectually limited audience
What assumptions have we made about our audience? That they have never attended a webinar before? That they cannot navigate around a webinar platform to find and type something in a chat box? That the person repeatedly typing in “My headphones don’t work”, “I can’t hear you” and, “Will I get the slides?” is the key decision maker from IBM?
They are NOT.
When we spend 7 minutes on etiquette, gentle set up and settling into the programme ourselves, like a cricketer starting out in a 5-day match, we miss the point by a mile. The aim is not to drive your delegates straight to their E Mail inbox.
The audience need meat and drama. They crave information and entertainment and they desire it NOW.
The attention span of your target corporate audience member is measured in seconds not days. They need a “hit” in the first minute of your show in order to have faith in your abilities to help them and, therefore, stay for the first 5. And they need a great first 5 to stay for more. And, you can still loose them with any subsequent 3 minute flat spot in your delivery.
Let us assume that the audience segment that matters consists of dynamic, proactive volunteers who enter bringing curiosity, intelligence and a willingness to participate and they are willing to challenge you in your programme.
Get to the point, cut the “We are X and have been established for 36 years” and, “Thank you for joining” stuff to a minimum and hit the spot quickly. It is not about you – it is about connecting valuable content to the ears and hearts of your audience, quickly. Did I mention speed?
- It’s so novel, I use it every time
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Many newbies know that you must draw your audience in and get them typing. This normally leads to DJ crime 101, “So, do tell me where you are listening from.”
Great the first time, but really. We have all heard that one a dozen times or more – Move On. Change up. And, the debriefing of this exercise is normally painfully thin. So, probably better to skip it altogether.
How about something a little more intellectually challenging than finding the lost child at the zoo “And where do you live little Johnny?” Something more substantial – an unconscious bias question or something emotionally provocative and broadly related to your topic.
And polls – Whilst we are at it. Polls have a place but, they take time, they can kill the flow and, when you have a small audience, the percentage results give that away. 25% of the audience chose A (you have an audience of 4. Ouch.)
- It’s best to play it safe
Here we come to a profound philosophical point – remote education v tailored face-to-face interaction. Are we catering for the average? Do you feel the need to play it safe, especially as you know the recording will live on? Is your primary objective NOT to offend? Or are we tailoring the content and interaction to the amazing needs of the high potentials?
Many opt for the supposedly safe formula that uses a lowest common denominator pap programme. Actually, this satisfies no one and probably offends the sensibilities of everybody.
The audience are the stars
Great radio shows have interaction. Maybe we can learn from these and not just fire hose the listener with established versions of the main models in our field.
When we receive a question – can we break it down or challenge the assumptions that it contains in such a way to awaken the rest of the audience to think, “Wow, I never thought of it that way before.”
To me, that is the point of webinars in particular and education in general. And, it’s compelling, entertaining and exciting too. Not something that can be said of most webinars out there at the moment.
- For pace advice, I follow Forest Gump
There are 2 schools of thought here. One is that you should imagine you are talking to a deaf aunt and need to articulate slowly and clearly and compensate for her cheap hearing aid with some enthusiastic shouting.
In contrast, studies into reading and comprehension tell us that people can process language very quickly indeed.
Most presentations are delivered at 150 words a minute. We can actually listen at up to 450 words a minute. And we can think at 600 words a minute. So let us have a little more faith in the core demographic. They can keep up with the content.
The Audience are the stars
- You can’t have too many words
You know what I am going to say here. Don’t write the show out on the slides. Don’t read the words, and don’t stick to the script.
When you do that you will seem unnatural, forced and dull, dull, dull.
It would take you too long to learn the advanced skills necessary to read a script in an animated way that sounds natural to be worth it.
Use key words and learn your patter walking up and down the office. In this way you will programme in your content and can access it when you need it. The key point about freeing yourself from the script is to respond to the audience.
When you focus on them you create a valuable LIVE experience and your audience will love it, love you and engage with the content.
P.S. When you write the show on the slides, the audience will probably prefer to read your text and then, upsettingly, find your voice an irritating interruption. Not cool.
- I hate large audiences
Have you experienced being a participant when there is almost nobody sharing your grim webinar audience journey with you? I remember once an American man asking his audience of half a dozen to open up their mics and share – because there we so few present – excruciating.
Get people to attend
Grow a legal, targeted, GDPR compliant list and invite them by constructing a compelling long copy invitation to show up, bring a friend, reflect on their needs, develop curiosity and anticipation and throw themselves into the show – They will then add to the buzz, the energy and the level of interaction.
I like the crescendo model where you start out even and get a little more hyped up and dramatic, especially during the Q&A.
A great measure of your broadcasting success is quickly seen when 90% of your audience stay for an extended Q&A session – that is evidence of engagement.
- I don’t want to be too demanding
Relying on hope and telepathy is not a sales strategy.
How many times have we experienced a decent show followed by…absolutely nothing?
Remember, the audience are silently and secretly begging to be lead. And, lead by you. If you have done your job correctly you will get post show interaction. Or, if you have the will, you can generate sign ups or even payments in just 90 minutes from cold.
That is the power of great webinars.
They represent, at their best, an accelerated experience of you, your credo, values and offer. They concertina time and lead to dynamic and welcome audience ACTION.
Get to the point please
I don’t know why broadcasters deliberately set out to gather small audiences, bore them and leave them dissatisfied. It is a mystery. Delivering platitudes slowly and hoping for a miracle will require one.
So, Top Tips Time…
*Get to value quickly
*Quick and clear spoken words
*Engage the brain to entertain
*People don’t buy boring
*If you’ve heard it elsewhere, it is old and tired
*You don’t have to target everybody – hit the best of your audience not the rest
*You won’t get a medal for slide word count
*An empty webinar is an empty webinar
*Lead your audience to ACTION – And they will say THANK YOU
*The webinar is a starter. Have them come back and look at your menu and order more
*Practice, practice, practice
I hope you have enjoyed this provocative summer rant. Please like and share, now. (That is a command – see above.)
All the best,
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Author Profile – Matthew Hill is an experience trainer, coach and broadcaster helping others to market their services to get higher rates for the work they love doing.
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