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Webinars Suck

Webinars

  • The average webinar attracts 28 participants
  • Features 2 presenters
  • Lasts 65 minutes
  • And is held between 11 AM and 4 PM, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday

Photo of Multiple Screens at a Typical Desk

THOUGHT: Most webinars suck.

You know it. I know it. We all know it.

I don’t know how may webinars I’ve sat through in a conference room filled with colleagues where the same dynamic takes hold 10 minutes into the webinar: Everyone begins to talk.

Side conversations break out. People begin asking questions about the webinar to the room at large. Resident comics make snide comments that elicit hearty laughs all around.

Tablets brought in for taking notes are utilized instead for checking in on Facebook and Twitter. People turn to their phones to check email.

Multitasking is an all-too common behavior during virtual events such as webinars.

The problem, of course, is that most webinars are not successful executing their primary responsibility: Command attention. If you don’t command the attention of your audience, then all the rest is a waste of time.

So why do most webinars suck?

Let me count the ways:

  1. It starts with the presentation itself. Most presentations suck, period. They are designed as a crutch for speaker rather than with the audience in mind. You therefore have bullet-point riddled, text-heavy disasters, that, coupled with the speaker’s own voice, bombard the audience with far too much noise and precious little signal.
  2. To reinforce the point: Use images that reinforce your webinar narrative. This allows webinar attendees to pay close attention to your voice (the content).
  3. What’s up with the host and her (and it is almost always a her) mechanical webinar voice?!?
  4. Webinars that sell rather than educate. People do not attend webinars because they want to be sold to.
  5. Webinar speakers who are so full of themselves their personality gets in the way of their presentation.
  6. Slow-paced and/or bumbling presentations

The last point bears some elaboration.

I’ve attended countless webinars, so I have plenty of experience from the consumer’s point of view.

But I’ve also been a speaker for plenty of webinars and I can tell you they are quite a different animal than speaking before a live audience. You don’t have the instant feedback you do by looking out at the faces of your audience in person.

Tools like GoToWebinar do have some features that attempt to gauge audience interest, but I’m not sure how they are, or can, determine that. And there’s Twitter, of course, if you’re using a hashtag for your webinar and encouraging participants to Tweet during your presentation. You can also deliberately build in polls and questions during the course of your webinar to try and get a feel for interest.

The primary problem is one you’ve heard me discuss in other contexts over and again: The production of content without considering your audience.

Webinars can be a great business and marketing tool…if they are put together with a great deal of though and consideration over the experience attendees will have.

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.

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