Recently I paid for and viewed a webinar from a nationally-recognized higher education publication and was thoroughly disappointed with the presentation. There was a lot of presenter “chit chat” in the introduction, and it finally took 25 minutes to actually get to the content. At the conclusion of the webinar, I felt cheated as I spent $79.00 to have my skills set expanded, but already knew more than what was actually presented. Having viewed dozens of webinars, and presenting many myself receiving criticisms, here are some tips for how NOT to present a webinar.
A webinar is NOT “hang out” time with fellow presenters – I do not like to waste people’s time, and I do not like when people waste my time. This especially holds true with webinars. During various webinars that I have attended, the presenters would spend time going on about the process of working together on the webinar along with a lot of personal “backslapping” that was entirely unneeded. Cut to the chase and get to the content, particularly if people are paying for that content.
A webinar is NOT an autobiographical dump – One professional organization webinar I attended had six different presenters. Each presenter took nearly 3 to 5 minutes each to talk about themselves and their experience. By the time they were all done talking about themselves, the webinar was already a quarter of the way over. Presenter information can be easily listed in the webinar advertisement during participant registration. A webinar is not a job interview so participants do not want to hear you go on about who you are. If you feel compelled to present your background, keep it extremely brief (i.e., 30 seconds – 1 minute total for all presenters) and move on.
Do NOT push another product or service – Many presenters use webinars as disguised commercials. While this may be ok if the webinar is free and you are being up front the intent of your trying to sell a product or service, you should never do this if you are charging for the presentation.
Do NOT improvize – Create an outline, talking points, and copious examples. Do not “wing it” and treat the webinar like a conference roundtable. Registrants have put their faith in you that they are going to hear quality content not off-the-cuff conversation.
Add to the content, NOT the noise – Create the types of quality webinars that you yourself would like to attend. People pay for and attend webinars because they have a problem they want to solve and are looking to you to help solve that particular problem. There are literally hundreds of webinars out there related to higher education, some good…some not so good. I challenge you to create quality content to share among our student affairs colleagues.