Monday, March 29, 2010

Friends Don’t Let Friends Launch Bad Webinars!

This is the first in a multi-part series of discussions regarding Webinars. This first article will examine the potential value of these events, as well as the challenges in making them successful.

Organizations are beginning to utilize a relatively new breed of meetings, called “webinars” as a plausible option for delivering value-added event experiences to their customers.  For context, a Webinar, short for “Web-based seminar,”  is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar transmitted over the Internet.  The data is delivered via streaming technology, either live or in archive format.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Launch Bad Webinars!

For purposes of this article series, video broadcasts will not be part of the discussion.  Our reference point will be on webinars utilizing audio-based streaming, with static (non-animated)  visual support.

So, what value does this type of technology and event bring to organizations, and their customers?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Cost Effective — Webinars are inexpensive, from both a producer’s and attendee’s point-of-view.  The operating investment for the webinar platform is far less than any other type of event, online or otherwise.  In many cases webinars are offered free-of-charge to attendees, or at a low-cost fee.
  • Easy to Implement — Webinar technology is uncomplicated, and easy to navigate, whether an attendee or presenter.  All that is needed is a computer, with an up-to-date hardware configuration, soundcard, web browser, and a high speed Internet connection.  Presenters will either use VOIP, with a computer microphone, or telephone connection, for audio communication.
  • Customer Value Enhancement — Many organizations have added webinars to their education curriculum, in response to the difficult economy.  Some people, unable to attend mainstay “big-dollar” face2face events, because of budget cuts, or travel restrictions, can still at least capture some education, with webinars.
  • Brand Awareness — By hosting webinars, organizations add value to their customers service experience.  They also demonstrate thought leadership to the industry they serve.  Ultimately they enhance their brand’s image.

If managed properly, webinars may be a terrific communication channel for organizations to deliver valuable information and educational content to customers, employees, and industry peers.  Unfortunately, many are poorly executed, delivering diminished value to attendees.

Attendees and presenter(s) are not able to connect face2face  with webinars, due to their online nature.  With this crucial attendee engagement element missing, organizers must focus their attention on finding other ways to make these events interactive.  Therein lies the challenge.

Since many event professionals are not experienced in managing these types of events, they don’t realize the webinar experience needs to be crafted differently than its face2face counterpart.  In this article series I will share some ideas with you, based upon my research and experience of how to optimize the webinar experience.

Clearly I don’t have all the answers, so I hope to learn from you as well.  Through mutual learning we can raise the bar of success with these events in the future.

After all, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Launch Bad Webinars.”

Question:  Have you attended any webinars recently?  If so how would you characterize the experience?  What were the benefits, and challenges?  We look forward to your input!

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