your webinar audience, asleep

Webinars (web-based seminars) continue to be an invaluable tool for organizations worldwide to present a point-of-view or share important information virtually. Over the years at SAI, we’ve developed a number of webinars to educate our clients and prospects on relevant industry topics. And it doesn’t just stop there. Webinars can be used for telling the story of a client case study (which we often do as well), demoing products or even training employees. They can be highly effective, if done right.

1.  Pick a topic, and make it a good one.

This is big. A webinar is an amazing opportunity to present to a captive audience. That being said, you need to be sure that the information you’re conveying is interesting, valuable and easy to understand. What pains are your clients (or employees) experiencing, or what industry trend can be translated into better ways of doing business? Once you identify the topic, focus on developing specific ways to solve the problem or exploit the opportunity. These are the topics that will spark interest and drive value for the participants.

2.  Be prepared.

Once you’ve developed killer material, concentrate on execution. No one wants to sit through an hour long presentation with a mumbling idiot. Harsh? Maybe. But true. Make sure you know your material. Go through your presentation at least a few times to set the right pace and to plan exactly what points you want to make. It’s also a great idea to have some colleagues sit in on your practice sessions to get feedback.

3.  Test the technology. Test it. And test it again.

Your computer shuts down mid webinar. You can’t figure out why the audio isn’t working. You get an embarrassing IM during the webinar because you forgot to close all other programs before starting.

(You may be laughing, but these things really happen! And they are detrimental to your brand.)

Here’s a quick checklist for before you hit that start button:

  • Make sure your computer is plugged in. Oh, and all automatic windows updates are turned off.
  • Test your audio at least 15 minutes before you begin the presentation. This can be as simple as asking a fellow employee to jump on the call while you do one of these, “Can you hear me now?”.
  • Close all programs on your computer with the exception of your slides and your webinar provider. This will eliminate the chance of mortification. You’re welcome.
  • If you’re recording the presentation – DON’T FORGET TO PRESS RECORD.

4. Text heavy slides? Yawn…

If you’re flooding your slides with text, you’re going to lose the attention of your audience. This is not War and Peace. Images make a world of difference. They keep your audience engaged and enable them to focus their attention on the message. Images are also a great way to illustrate points and they should do just that. Keep in mind that you should never use an image just for the sake of using one. Think outside the box and get creative. But please, no cheesy sound effects or distracting text animations.

5.  Make it interactive.

If you can, it’s a great idea to include one or two poll questions in your presentation. This gives the audience a voice, and it enables you to adjust the subject matter to maximize value. (Bonus:  It’s also a way for you to keep their attention.) It will show that you really do value their opinion on the topic. From their responses, you can make points and even tailor the conversation accordingly.

Another way to get audience participation is to provide a twitter hashtag for your webinar. Invite attendees to make comments and ask questions throughout the session by tweeting with that unique hashtag. You could start a great conversation with an attendee about a specific topic. And guess what? This can even extend to after the webinar ends.

6.  "So… what did you think?" Get your attendees’ feedback!

Wouldn’t you love to know what your attendees thought of your presentation? This isn’t just an ego thing. Most webinar providers allow you to create a post webinar survey that can pop up for your attendees immediately following your webinar. This can be very powerful. You can ask what they thought of the session, how they found out about your webinar, and of course, ask if they’d like to have a follow up conversation about the topic. Attendee feedback should play a huge role in improving your whole webinar process. You should ask directed questions to get valuable feedback on what you and your organization could be doing more effectively.

So, what are your suggestions for great webinar prep? Share some of your tips in the comment section below. And check out our webinar collection for some inspiration. Thanks, and happy webinar-ing!