Saturday, April 3, 2010

Webinars: Who’s Your Audience, and Why Should They Listen?

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Launch Bad Webinars”

In Part One, of this article series I offered ideas regarding why an organization should consider adding webinars to their education curriculum.  I also shared, based upon my own experiences and research,  some potential roadblocks to their success.  Now, in part two lets review the strategic components that help organizers shape these events.  Before creating education content, the design team must first identify the following:

  • Who is the targeted event audience? Who is the organization trying to reach? It could be a combination of the below.
    • Customers
    • Internal team members
    • Suppliers
  • What is the audience’s education need? What is the content that needs to be delivered?
    • Common Business Challenge — Is there a hot topic that is stirring up a lot of discussion in your business sector.  If so, then it is a golden opportunity to show thought leadership, and initiate a meaningful conversation addressing the issue.
    • News Style Information — Is there some exciting new development in the organization that should be introduced to the marketplace.  Are there new products/services to discuss?
    • Internal Company Initiatives/Policies — Inside the organization is there a need to roll-out a new business initiative, new business processes, or policy statements?
    • Partnership Opportunities with Vendors — Has the organization developed a new alliance with another organization resulting in a new partnership to be shared?  Perhaps this alliance results in a value enhancement for  customers, or requires new internal processes & guidelines.
  • How should messaging be delivered? The delivery style is driven by the content and the circumstances.  Whenever possible it is best to avoid a lecture style format, because it is not engaging.
    • Lecture style — This format usually is selected because there is some information or news to be shared.  It is most effective when the messaging is quick, and no significant audience interaction is required.  There could be a “Q&A” to follow the presentation.
    • Facilitated Panel Discussion — This style of delivery is most effective for webinars, as it can be lively and interactive, if executed properly.  Interspersing Q&A at fifteen minute intervals is a good practice.  Also, assigning someone the responsibility of tracking/forwarding questions and comments from the audience adds flavor to the event.
    • Workshop — When work-groups, or pods of attendees are collaborating, this presentation format can be utilized.  The presenter lays the foundation, framing up the focus of the discussion.  Then the remote work-groups work on an exercise together.  A nice follow up piece is for the pods to report back on their findings, either by chat or audio feed.

Whatever the delivery format selected, presenters need to have a solid grasp of the material they are presenting.  The largest challenge with webinars is to capture and maintain the interest of the remote audience.  Since there is no video or f2f interaction, the only way to build excitement and interest, is through lively dialogue mixed with some vivid, eye-catching images.  We will discuss this further in an upcoming segment of this article series.

The one universal truth is the “one size fits all” philosophy does not work. Organizations must find that “sweet spot,” … the approach that will have the greatest positive impact on the perceived audience.

Have you found that sweet spot, or approach, to a webinar that has “hit the ball out of the park?”  If so, please share it with us.

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