One of the most widely discussed product demonstration fails of 2017 occurred unexpectedly during the iPhone X presentation. Apple's Senior Vice President of (Software engineering) Craig Federighi, picked up the iPhone device and declared that the device could be unlocked just by a glance. But instead of unlocking the gadget, a screen appeared asking for the phone’s access code. After the apparent hesitation, Federighi picked up another iPhone X and this time, the device recognised him, and it unlocked.
It turned out that the Face ID system of the first phone was not trained to recognise Federighi's face while preparing the device for the presentation. Whereas the second device already had his face data. Despite the plausible explanation, this embarrassing moment may stay in the memories of millions of users live streaming the presentation.
Just like product presentations, webinars need tact. Often in a public presentation, most people regret some crucial points they wish they had not forgotten earlier. It’s imperative that one takes a hard look at one’s motivations. An excellent question, to begin with, would be:
Is one’s business ready to host a webinar?
It is a question that most marketers fail to address before diving headlong into crafting complete coursework, presentations and emails or running paid advertisements for a webinar.
More often than not, webinars are monotonous and unnecessary because businesses don’t produce a webinar to be exclusively useful to their audiences or to offer them help. Instead, they see it as a great lead generation and brand reputation tool.
Businesses must first ask whether these webinars offer genuine value to the attendees or not. Before treating webinars as just another marketing tool, it is only fair to introspect if they would be proud of these webinars ten years from now. If a brand is willing to put effort into planning a webinar, they might as well make it popular on the internet by offering real value. In short, it must make the viewers drop everything and sign up.
Here, we list eight things that businesses often forget and regret later.
1. Not considering the relevance of the topic
Choosing the right topic for the webinar is a crucial part of the equation. It is highly tempting to host a webinar around popular general topics. A wiser alternative is to choose a specific content niche that could be explored in great detail. This will help with dwelling deeper on the subject and reduce the chances of ambiguity or going off on tangents. In terms of SEO, it is essential to pick a topic and frame it in words with solid search potential instead of picking up a trending topic and beating about the bush.
Since a webinar is a unique medium that involves visuals and interactions, it is wise to leverage these tools. Subjects that can be taught through short, interactive presentations tend to out-perform subjects that require lengthy explanations and substantial background knowledge from the attendee.
2. Assuming they have good speakers
Despite putting in time and effort in selecting the appropriate topics and designing curricula, businesses might go completely wrong when choosing the speaker. Speakers are often chosen based on authority in the organisational hierarchy instead of authority over the subject matter. When webinars are hosted by authoritative and skilled speakers who know the topic inside and out, it keeps people glued to their seat. Since the speaker is responsible for answering the attendees’ questions, it makes much more sense to choose an expert in the subject.
People engage with thought leaders and storytellers who are comfortable speaking in front of people and on camera. Choosing subject-matter expertise is crucial to field unexpected questions from the live audiences.
3. Lack of incorporating a two-way interaction
Even with an exciting webinar topic and speaker, it is crucial to keep the presentation equally engaging. The best webinars have room for two-way communication where attendees actively engage and feel more connected and motivated to come back for the next session.
Advancement in technology allows attendees to chat, submit questions, raise (virtual) hands and answer polls in real time. In addition, 92% of attendees have also admitted that they want a live question and answer session towards the end of a webinar. These numbers reinforce that the majority of attendees will feel discontent without channelised communication throughout the webinar.
4. Assuming that salesy content will work
One of the lethal webinar mistakes is coming over as salesy during the presentation. Mike Agron, the co-founder of Web Attract and a webinar demand generation expert, says, “Webinars are not sales pitches. They are about stimulating audiences’ intellectual curiosity, teaching them something and inspiring them to want to have a conversation.” What he is really suggesting is to think of webinars as a starting point for future dialogue with potential customers.
When we place the webinar prospects in the buyers’ journey, it may be deduced that they are in the awareness stage. By the end of the webinar, they may move to the consideration stage. When the attendees reap the practical benefits from the webinar’s actionable part, they are more likely to be in the decision-making stage and ready to be finally pitched.
5. Not promoting the webinar early or enough
It is one thing to not promote the brand and its services exclusively during a webinar, but it’s quite the opposite not to promote the webinar itself sufficiently. It is recommended to start the promotion as early as four weeks leading up to the day of the webinar. However, 69% of the registrations are likely to happen one week prior to the webinar, and 33% occur on the day itself.
It is advisable to set a budget to run sufficient ads on social media platforms strategically and monitor them. A specific platform where brands may win or lose is email marketing. Email drives 57% of total webinar registrations, which is more than every other platform put together. Having consistent email communication is equally effective after the webinar as a staggering 26% of the applicants register to watch the recorded version later.
6. Ignoring technical aspects
Few things will ruin a webinar faster than technical issues. A bad internet connection directly interferes with the audio and video feed, making the stream pixelated or creating a frustrating lag. Wrong placement of microphones can create odd echo noises or unpleasant feedback. Also, bad lighting and surrounding might make the host seem less credible. To host scalable webinars consistently, it is crucial to invest in decent quality gear. Though we are not the experts at webinar gear, we do know what the experts use and recommend.
7. Punishing the audience with a terrible presentation
Apart from the speaker, another factor that’s instrumental in holding the attendees’ attention is the slides on the presentation. The visual presentation needs to be aesthetically pleasing at a minimum. PowerPoint slides crammed with too much text will quickly become distracting and overwhelming. If the attendees are reading loaded slides and taking notes all the while, they won’t be able to focus on what the speaker has to say, and they will start to tune out.
Compelling slides focus on clean, minimal and necessary content. Adding relevant images and graphics will make the presentation even more dynamic and help get the message across smoothly.
8. Taking the audience’s time for granted
Another way to alienate an audience is to disregard their time totally. Trying to fill up the whole session by stretching the content or running the webinars past their end time are both equally unacceptable. So is hosting webinars for a period of time in which the attendees are not comfortable.
A professional way to handle time crises in finishing early is to allow time for an interactive Q & A. On the other hand, when time is running short, the speaker may direct the attendees to branded content that may solve their queries or offer personal follow-up.
With regard to time, it is also a good practice to conduct research based on the potential audience demographic and availability to schedule webinars on a day and time that works for the majority of the target audience.
There are also contrasting opinions about the ideal length of a webinar. For webinars that require paid registration, attendees believe in “the more, the better” as they want to squeeze every bit of the investment. However, for free-of-cost webinars, leaving the audience with one or two solid takeaways in a short time is recommended.
Good webinars are like a good independent feature film - they leave us feeling inspired, motivated and ready to take on the world. Bad webinars, however, are more like typical Michael Bay films – after a few minutes, they make viewers wonder how someone could create something so unapologetically terrible and make them waste their time and money.
Let us not allow bad webinars to happen to great people. Shall we?