“Sorry,” I said to my computer screen as I put my credit card back into my wallet.
Webinars are nothing new. You get introduced to someone you’ve never heard speak before, learn a few things for free, and then buy their special offer if you want more.
As a continuous student, I watch a lot of webinars and frequently take advantage of the special offers.
As a speaker and educator, I’m always analyzing webinar techniques so that I can improve on my own web-based presentation skills.
So, what made me completely lose confidence in the speaker AND the offer during a recent webinar I attended? I’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s just set the ground rules here that the topic of the webinar is not important. And, I’m not here to bash anyone by name.
What I do want to share with you are 5 reasons I, as a continuous student always seeking to learn more, and consumer with my credit card on my desk ready and eager to buy whatever special offer was made, was completely turned off from this free webinar. My hope is that you will avoid these cardinal sins when it’s your webinar in the hot seat.
But first, let’s cover some basics.
What is a Webinar in 2018?
A webinar is a 20- to 120-minute, one-to-many presentation from a single computer, phone or tablet, controlled by a presenter and viewed by an audience of tens, hundreds, or thousands from the comfort of their home or office. The presenter’s objective is to display likability and gain trust while using PowerPoint slides to stay organized and keep the audience engaged throughout the presentation.
Functionally, webinars have not changed much over the years. You get an account (sometimes free to get started) with your webinar tool of choice. My personal favorite tool for conducting webinars and Live Video meetings these days is a system called Zoom.
Then, you create your presentation and either upload it to the webinar system or simply connect to it and show your screen and invite people to watch on a scheduled date.
Of the few things that have changed in the technology-related features of webinars, I would say more people having high speed internet connections and more up-to-date computers to be the most significant. These two facts make webinar producing and viewing more popular now than ten years ago.
What is a GOOD Webinar?
Good webinars are produced with a specific format that has evolved over the past 15 years. Rarely will you see someone extemporaneously add-lib a one-hour webinar. They have carefully assembled every slide and every sentence to fit into a proven sales sequence.
To summarize this format, it would look like this:
- Welcome (5 minutes).
- Stating of the problem and what you’ll learn (5 minutes).
- Who I am, my story and why I am qualified to be presenting to you (15-20 minutes).
- Educational content (10 minutes).
- Sales offer (30-50 minutes).
- Q&A (10-20 minutes).
- Final offer and close (10 minutes).
Why Conduct Webinars?
From a presenter’s standpoint, there is really only one reason to invest 60, 90 or 120 minutes of one’s time presenting in webinar format and the many more hours spent developing, testing, and tweaking the same webinar over a period of months.
That purpose is to deliver quality content during the presentation so that you earn the right to pitch a product or service with a special offer to a warmed-up audience.
If you approach conducting webinars with this mindset, you will be content with your time well spent.
Why are Webinars Growing in Popularity?
I know numerous professional speakers who have, or are wanting to, replace their travel speaking gig income with something that allows them to stay home and spend more time with their families. Webinars (and live video) can certainly contribute to accomplishing monetary replacement of travel speaking income.
Here are a few bigger reasons for increasing webinar popularity:
- Ease – You don’t have to be a programmer or gadget geek to operate webinar software.
- Speed – Most presenters can produce all the basic graphics they need for the slides instead of waiting for designers to turnaround images.
- Cost – Most webinar software systems are easy to afford at under $50/month.
- Reach – Replays are easily provided to those who could not attend the live webinar.
- Automation – Web-based software tools exist so that you can recycle your recorded webinar over and over again to look like it’s a live webinar.
- ROI – Even if you invest $1,000 in Facebook ads or more, a good webinar can easily pay for itself when attendees are properly led down a high quality sales path.
Accumulating all of these points together, how could there possibly be a webinar so bad that I would take the time to write an entire blog post like this to vent my disappointment?
Now let’s get back to the webinar I invested a little more than 110 minutes to watch, listen to and analyze.
The opening welcome screen was professionally designed. The presenter had a pleasant voice. There were some technical glitches at the beginning, which has almost become expected with webinars these days.
So, what’s my beef?
Webinar Killer #1 to Avoid: Reading from a Script
Nothing eliminates personal authenticity more quickly than reading a script for a live webinar. I could write a script and pay someone at Fiverr to read the script and go through screens for me. The presenter wouldn’t even have to be me!
As the presenter read the off-screen script (meaning, most of the read content did not include the same words printed on the screen), I wound up listening intently for places within the sentence structure where the presenter pronounced words incorrectly or emphasized words in the wrong places.
I should have been paying attention to the content itself, but was distracted by the mistakes being made during the reading.
For example, consider this sentence: “I went swimming in the cold…….pond.”
The presenter never said that sentence in the webinar. I’m just pointing out an example where so many times the presenter’s script must have wrapped around to the next line on the page and emphasis was given to the wrong ending word of the sentence. Talk about a distraction!
If you simply MUST read your webinar script word-for-word to get through it, at least take some additional time to construct your notes in a way that your brain gets triggered to emphasize certain words at the right time.
Webinar Killer #2 to Avoid: Spending Too Long on “ME”
As a speaker, your signature story is important to your audience. What was that pivotal moment when you were in the dumps and turned everything around because you discovered the ultimate solution that saved your life and business? Your audience wants to know that.
This presenter never shared that story, but spent 20 minutes talking about family and the hammock and ocean lifestyle. I finally figured out why that signature story was never shared, which I’ll describe in a moment.
Webinar Killer #3: Foreshadowing Overwhelm
This is the one that really got me. I’m very familiar with the subject that was presented. I also know that there’s always more to learn about the topic, so I was eager to learn and very open to buy.
The presenter, however, seemed to have a different objective. I was to accept that I was incapable of doing what needed to be done on my own in this area. Not only did I need a thousand tools, but I was going to have hire about five people and come up with about 100 hours a week to devote to the project.
But, wait, I’ve already DONE the process the presenter was presenting! And, even I was overwhelmed. What would someone brand new to the process think? Most would think, “There’s just no hope for me.”
What happens when audience participants lose hope during a webinar? They exit the webinar of course. I stuck it out, though, and found myself checking email and my social media replies.
Webinars, as well as any persuasive presentations really, must provide hope to its audiences. Good presenters can make complex processes seem doable. This presenter did not provide that hope and, instead, barraged the viewers with continuous foreshadowing of doom throughout the presentation.
Every five minutes, I was introduced to another reason I could not do implement the so-called “simple steps” on my own. Very uninspiring.
Webinar Killer #4: Teaching DUHm Stuff
Then, we got to the educational section of the webinar (eyes rolling). This is what I’ve been studying the most about webinars, probably because I enjoy teaching so much. When I discover something that works (or fails), I promptly tell my clients and subscribers in full detail by way of blog posts, videos, live networking meetings, occasional webinars or through my free Tuesday Triplet emailed tips.
Contrast my enjoyment of teaching with what every successful webinar presenter will tell you: Never teach on a webinar! The more you teach, the less sales you’ll make.
Instead of teaching, webinar veterans will suggest you tell success stories. Provide case studies of others who have used the process and share their challenges and a morsel of educational content as to how they overcame that challenge in the process.
In the recent webinar I watched, the presenter provided no real usable content. No case studies were offered either. Instead, general steps were given and then, what I call, DUHm stuff was used to backup the points.
DUHm stuff is where the points delivered are so obvious that you could have found them on a thousand blog posts in five minutes.
The result is you just say, “Duhhh,” to yourself as you feel a bit insulted that such low level educational content was provided after all the hype before you registered to attend.
I’ll say this again to make sure you get it: The presenter stopped short of providing even a single case study to reinforce the simple points that were provided.
In my vote, the educational section of this webinar was a total fail.
Webinar Killer #5: Selling Services You Haven’t Earned the Right to Sell
Near the end of the webinar, during the all-too-common stacking of items for the offer valued at 15 times the offer price (Yes, you’ve seen it many times before), I was half listening to the presenter while searching Pixabay for a creative commons photo to post to Facebook that visually described my disappointment.
I started wondering why the presenter was making such a drastic deviation from everything I’ve come to learn about good webinars over the past 15 years. Were that many people buying into the offer? Had this person just not come across the same family of presenters I’ve grown up with since the early days of webinars and, more recently, live video?
I started searching for the presenter’s name within the framework being presented. You want to know a shocker? I could find no evidence that the presenter had produced a product under the same name using the method being presented!
Now wonder the presenter did not supply a signature story at the beginning of the webinar! There was no story to tell!
How can you create and sell products and services (for money!) to people when you have not put food on your own table using the same method? I have never been able to understand that approach.
When you get the opportunity or desire to produce a webinar to promote a product or service you’re offering, please work the method, product or service for yourself first. You will learn so many tiny details that you probably will miss when only providing services for others. Those small details could become big reasons for your clients’ success.
Obviously, this has been one of my pet peeves in my 20+ years as a provider of professional services.
Good Webinars are Here to Stay
To sum this up, webinars are certainly here to stay and growing as an accepted form of the sales process. Webinars are one of the best ways (second only to speaking from the stage) to introduce yourself to new prospects and even a less than perfect webinar will eventually attract new leads and sales for any business.
A terrible webinar, however, can ruin your opportunity for sales and awareness expansion of any movement you’re trying to push to the world. Be sure to avoid the five webinar killers as listed above and present any new webinar you produce at least five times to friends and family before going live with it.
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