One of the most frequent complaints about preparing webinars and online presentations is that they take too long to prepare. It seems like no matter how hard you try, you're always prepping until the last minute, and they feel like you're getting them in just under the wire. If that sounds like you, odds are you're guilty of at least one of these three productivity killers:
Everyone wants to give their "constructive feedback"
Just when you think you have your webinar ready to go, someone gets wind of it and offers input. Or someone you let sit in on your rehearsal has three pages of notes to "tweak it a bit". Maybe marketing wants you to use the new template. Sales doesn't like how you've positioned something.
Whatever the reason, it results in last minute sweating over the PowerPoint slides and maybe a late night. It's not that the comments aren't valid (sadly, sometimes they're dead on), it's just that the timing is bad.
THE ANSWER :Try letting people know in advance what you're working on and ask for their input earlier in the process. Send out a rough draft of the visuals along with your talking points. Also, let people sit in on a rehearsal at least a week before the event. If the first time you practice is the day before it goes to a live audience, you deserve to sweat it out.
People don't meet their deadlines
If you are relying on your speakers to get you the visuals or script, make sure you can hold them to their commitments. One of the scariest things I can hear from my clients is, "Our CEO will be the speaker". Not that he or she isn't terrific, but most people aren't comfortable telling them they have to have their presentation done at least a week before the event and be willing to noodge, cajole and pester them until they deliver. If you need input like content, expertise or artwork from someone, it can make for some tense days leading up to the event.
THE ANSWER: First of all, if this event is worth doing, it should be treated as an important project and not as an afterthought. When people commit to presenting, the delivery of a first draft (tell me you do more than one draft!) is a deliverable, and not at the dress rehearsal. Secondly, whoever is putting the presentation together needs to put a project plan together at the beginning of the process and get buy-in from all the stakeholders. They should also have someone they can go to for moral support when the VP of Sales doesn't deliver the PowerPoint on Tuesday as scheduled.
People are too busy doing their "real job"
I don't know anyone whose sole job is building webinars for their company. They're in marketing, or sales, or training and are doing this webinar thing in addition to the thousand tasks they are expected to do during the day. Let's say you expect to spend eight hours total in preparing for your web presentation. It can seem like an onerous burden.
THE ANSWER: Nobody has that time in their life. But we probably have 40 minutes here, 20 there. Lay out a plan to build your webinar a little bit at a time and lay it out like a project plan. You'll find that if you give yourself sufficient lead time (and hold yourself and your contributors to it) the job becomes a series of "bite-sized" tasks instead of a big job. Also, by scheduling rehearsals (notice the plural!) when you put the plan together you're not scrambling at the last minute to get on peoples' calendars.
In our book 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar we suggest 6 weeks for a first webinar, and then rescale once you've worked out the bugs in your system, but whatever the length of time, be realistic and hold yourself (and everyone involved, including the VP of Sales) to it.
Treating a webinar or any virtual presentation or training like a project, rather than a single task will help save your sanity and ensure better results. It will look so easy someone else might volunteer to do the next one. Hey, you can hope.