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I’ve sat in on many webinars and on-demand demos. They are valuable as background information for the B2B marketing videos we create, because a webinar is an opportunity to hear real people use real words (as opposed to marketing-speak) to describe solutions to customer problems.

But hosts and presenters often unwittingly reduce the value of a webinar by doing things that fail to give value in exchange for my attention. Here are the seven worst “practices” I encounter.

1. “First a few housekeeping details”

Skip the introductory stuff about how you can enlarge the screen, submit questions, download the recording, etc. It’s hard to think of a less upbeat way to start things off. If your meeting platform software doesn’t make these details clear, you can put them somewhere on the title slide or a crawl across the screen.

2. Introducing the presenters

The presenters make or break your webinar—but they should need no introduction. What got me to sign up for the webinar in the first place was an invitation to learn something new from experts. Let them get on with it.

Of course you don’t want latecomers wondering who they’re listening to. Put up a slide with a photo and credentials when the presenter starts talking. Maybe even leave an image in the corner of the screen.

3. Talking about what you’re going to talk about

It’s okay to remind me of the topics you plan to cover. By all means show me a list. Make it an enticing list. Maybe include juicy subtopics.

But don’t read it to me. Don’t tell me why you’re going to talk about it or how interesting it will be. Just get on with it.

4. Talking about the bullet point I’m looking at

Looking at a bullet point while a speaker goes on at length about the subject is just annoying. Looking at it while she’s moved on to a subtopic or digression amps up the annoyance. It’s best to have visual support for your subject or, at least, update the bullet points frequently, so I feel like we’re making progress.

5. Failure to chapterize

My team was recently asked by a customer’s branding group to study and implement new branding best practices. These were described in an hour-long video.

It took well over an hour for one of us to step through the video and note down which topics are covered at which points—so we could check our work and agree on how to interpret the new rules.

Your customers aren’t going to do that. You want people to learn from your webinar? Divide it into chapters so people can skip to what interests them, review it, and share the salient points with others.

6. No test data

This applies to software demos. I’ve seen many demos that have tried to show me how easy it is to use the interface without showing me interesting data or other examples to use it on. Don’t count on my imagination to fill in the blanks—let me see the software accomplish something I can relate to.

7. Failure to test

This so obvious. Don’t have audio problems. Don’t have video problems. Rehearse, have a dry run, do anything to avoid making me feel bad for you. I’ve been there. 

If you would like to see whether I myself avoid these annoying behaviors, you can check out this webinar we did for Vidyard’s FastForward Summit, “Five ways to explain stuff and move the needle on ABM.”


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Bruce McKenzie

About Bruce McKenzie

Bruce McKenzie is founding partner Technology Business Video (part of Business Information Graphics, New York). Since 2004, the company has made 2-Minute Explainers(R) and many other types of video for startups and enterprise technology solution providers, including IBM, Cisco, Broadcom, Quantum, and LexisNexis.

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