January 22, 2013

ADD WEBINARS TO YOUR MARKETING MIX

remote audienceIf you only make presentations in person, you face limitations
  • time: travel, parking, setup (shorter online)
  • geography: you can’t be in two places at once (you can online)
  • audience: members from different firms may avoid going to the same event (how would they know online?)
  • facilities: sometimes squishy, with obstructed views, poor acoustics (you control the environment online)
  • health: do you want to catch or give the flu? (online attendees can watch without worries)
  • weather: adds uncertainty (online you can continue with those available and have a “rain date” for the ones who can’t attend)
  • cost: no room rentals, screen rentals or refreshments
Webinars look like an ideal addition to your in-person events. I haven't been a fan because too many are boring or salesy. That's not a criticism of webinars but how they’re used. Webinars are a quick, low cost way to extend your reach. Here's what you need:
  • a compelling presentation
  • an engaging voice
  • basic technology

The Presentation

When you're speaking live, you have the advantage of your physical presence. When you're remote, your slides become more important. Are they simple and engaging? Do they build by element or do you show everything at once? If you use a video clip, will your audience be able to see and hear it properly? Are you telling stories?

Tip: Practice, ideally with someone watching remotely.

The Voice

When you're not on camera, your audience only sees your slides and hears your voice. Think radio. You need more energy than usual. Try speaking a little faster (or a little slower if you normally talk fast). Enunciate clearly. Sit straight in your chair. Breathe deeply and regularly.

You need to adjust for time lags in transmission and reception. Some animations may be too fast for your audience to see. Some words may cut out as happens with mobile phone calls.

Tip: Record yourself and watch the playback. Repeat until you're comfortable with the results. Now get others to watch. What do they think?

The Technology

You'll want a fast, reliable Internet connection and a high quality microphone. If your mobile phone can create an Internet hotspot, you have a Plan B.

You'll find many services which let you host webinars from your web browser. Here's what's ideal.
  • a well-featured always-free version: lets you experiment (likely ad-supported)
  • recording capability: lets you practice, allows replays
  • webcam option: lets you appear on the screen at least part of the time (much more engaging)
  • fixed web address: looks more professional than having “no fixed address”
  • registration which captures contact details: lets you stay in touch with your audience, including those who were unable to attend
  • monthly plans: saves money since you may not have events every month
  • option to charge: you may want to sell tickets
For some reason, most paid plans only allow 25 attendees. That may be realistic but doesn't seem like much.

I was considering join.me ($20/mo for 25 attendees) but it lacks basics like recording and webcam support. I'm currently investigating AnyMeeting ($18/mo for 25 attendees, $70/mo for 200 attendees). The free ad-supported version allows 200 attendees. I'm impressed so far.

When's your next webinar?

Links

PS If you think you have to be physically present to achieve your call to action, maybe you can strengthen your content and delivery.

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