By Joey Asher

Category: Content

Leo Tolstoy began his masterpiece “Anna Karenina” with the sentence “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Here’s my twist on that great opening line: “All lousy webinars are alike; each good webinar is good by following a few principles.”

Lousy webinars are an unfortunate fact of interconnected business life. It’s great that you can sit at your desk, eat a sandwich, and learn something. But these on-line presentations are almost always boring.

And the reason they stink is almost always the same — they’re PowerPoint slides with a never-ending voice over. No one wants to stare at a computer screen listening to a voice drone for an hour about lowering business risk.

But webinars don’t have to stink if you follow a few principles.

Turn Your Webinar Into a Radio Talk Show

Instead of talking alone for an hour, turn the webinar into a radio-style interview.

We did a webinar helping bank managers present to superiors. But I didn’t speak for an hour by myself. I had a bank manager on the call with me. I asked him questions and we worked through a presentation he had to give the following week.

It required that we prepare together in advance. But it was worth it.

Use Technology to Make Your Webinar Interactive

All webinar services have interactive tools that allow listeners to ask questions and make comments, usually via a texting or a dialogue box. Some of the services have polling capabilities. Use those tools often.

I read a study that found that listeners’ levels of attention drop to almost nothing after 15 minutes. But you can revive their attention with interactive activities. A great activity on a webinar is simply to ask the audience questions that they must answer in the “texting box.”

Don’t say, “Does anyone have questions?” Make listeners give you a response. In our webinars we say, “I want everyone to go to the texting box and tell me the biggest challenge they face in creating presentations.”

When someone gives you an interesting answer, unmute that person’s line and ask him or her to explain further.

Keep it Short

There is a political party in New York City called “The Rent is Too Damn High.” I want to create a similar party called “These Webinars Are Too Damn Long.”

Webinars are usually an hour long. They should be half that. I don’t care how deep a thinker you are on the topic of lowering business risk, protecting patents, or improving customer service. You can’t cover it all in a webinar. Make one or two points. Then stop.

Webinars are a limited medium. Limit your message accordingly.

Make Good Eye Contact

Your listeners can hear your eye contact.

Let me explain. I recently walked through a client’s call center. On every service rep’s desk was a mirror. The reps were trained to look into the mirror, make eye contact, and smile whenever speaking with a customer. That’s because that eye contact and smile come through in the voice.

The same is true on a webinar. Most webinar presenters drone on with no regard to how dull they sound.

Webinars are a great training tool. But they aren’t effective if listeners tune out to respond to emails or play “Words with Friends.”

© Wickedgood | Dreamstime.com – Man joining webinar

Speechworks is a communication and selling skills coaching firm. We teach professionals how to craft and deliver complex messages in a simple, persuasive manner. Since 1986, through workshops and one-on-one instruction, we have helped countless individuals become better presenters and communicators. You can reach us at 404.266.0888, speech@speechworks.net or on the web at www.speechworks.net

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