Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Webinars that Work Better

While watching the movie The Wall from Pink Floyd last night, there is a great effort to dig out of your depth of whatever your issues are, and emerge out of it whole and hopefully with a better outlook.

Change scares people. Normally.

No matter if it is at work, at home or in school.

How do you have this discussion around change? How do you break it to someone, or something like an entire organization, that you are moving in another direction?

While yesterday's post brought many comments to me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ what stood out is so many people who want a better experience. The stories I heard make you wonder what the vendor on the other end of the webinar was thinking.

It's not their fault, they need some help, but probably no one told them.

Luis Suarez of IBM has an excellent post on this subject from his countless presentations here and some great examples here.

Change does not happen over night. We know it takes 30 days, or 30 attempts, to change one's natural tendencies. It can be done, just ask anyone who has given up alcohol or smoking or goes on a diet or exercises. It can be done.

Now how do you explain to someone they need to be more focused in their presentations? Listen to your audience is not always easy when you are the speaker. This is why there are comment cards or surveys after webinars and presentations to encourage feedback. The problem is in these modern times the feedback rarely waits for the survey or even after the presentation.

How can a speaker, on a webinar, change the pattern?

When you are presenting a webinar, try to have an open chat window where people can post their questions, discussions and comments. This will give you some idea of your audience interest and if you have others from your company monitoring the chat they should alert you to changes you may need to make or topics you should cover you may not have thought about when planning the session.

It is through the interaction with the secondary person that change can occur. If this does not happen, then what was the point of your webinar? Just to hear yourself? Not very interesting, or sharing, of you.

What to do? Take the time to stop and ask questions, encourage people to provide some feedback at different points of your session. You may find they wanted to hear about some aspect of your solution, but because you have stopped listening, you are presuming you know what the listeners want to hear.

When you are speaking in person you can see and sense the feeling of the room, but online everything is neutral.

Instead of doing an hour webinar, try doing a 15-30 minute session. Shorter sessions keep people interested better and they can devote the proper time to you. This does not let you off the hook, you still need to deliver great information. With the extra time you can then engage anyone that wants a different example or demo, various questions from the crowd or even raise other key issues to entice continued listening at that time or at a later time. Now you have shown you are not wasting their time, but you respect their time. If they are interested to follow up with you, now you are in a better place to start.

When you are writing an article, blog, novel or screen play, you need to be able to edit your work and edit it again. Edit until you get to the point you want, and not go beyond. So it should be in your presentations.

And if you really don't need slides....don't use any.

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