No more fast food webinars

Oct 26 2012 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

One of the biggest challenges people have with training or a meeting done by "webinar" is that it's a bit like fast food. It fills a hole (in your stomach or calendar) but doesn't stick with you very long. And that assumes it doesn't leave you somewhat queasy. The main similarity, though, is that it isn't terribly memorable. It doesn't have to be that way.

There are several reasons webinars aren't very memorable, and most of those reasons have to do less with the subject matter (although if people don't care it's hard to get them to remember anything) and more with how the webinar is positioned, designed and delivered. Here are some of the most common problems with "fast food" webinars and some tips to help counteract them.

  • Tell people what the webinar is about, how long it will take and why they should careóbefore it even starts. You can put this information in the actual invitation to the event. If people know why you're taking up their time they are more likely to focus from the beginning and whether this matters to them, they're going to approach it differently than if they just show up with no expectations.
  • Don't exceed their Hrair Limit. Essentially, people are physically and mentally incapable of taking in more than (a maximum of) seven pieces of information at a time. Shoveling a ton of information at them in a short period of time is like taking a full glass of water and putting it under a running tap. There's only so much water it will retain, the rest goes slopping over the sides.
  • Stop super-sizing your online message. If you find yourself saying, "Oh by the way", it's probably fluff. A common mistake with webinars is to try to "add value" by giving people more information than they really need. All that does is overload their circuits and leave them struggling to remember the really key points.
  • People listen when they have something to do. What is your call to action? If they aren't expected to do anything different as a result of your webinar, could you have just sent an email? Try your hardest to find a credible action for people to take. Remember, in school you always took better notes if it would be on the test.
  • Use graphics and analogies that resonate. Remember in high school when you took Driver's Ed, and they showed you those horrible car crash videos? Do you know why they did that? Because even your hormone addled teenage brain would remember them, long after you tuned your teacher's voice out. If your work career has taught you anything, it should be that not much has changed since high school.

If you're looking for more tips on creating powerful webinars, check out 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations.

more articles

About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.