by Linore Rose Burkard
In Parts One and Two, I discussed fears about giving webinars, and how to put such hindrances to rest. But are there real drawbacks to the medium that offline events don’t have? Let’s take a look.
PROBLEM: YOU CAN’T SEE THE AUDIENCE
Is this a PRO or a CON? For people who get nervous in front of an audience, this aspect of webinars may be helpful. All one need do is speak in front of a safe, little camera. 😉
For myself, I was still aware of an audience watching, but unlike at a live event, I couldn’t read their body language, and this was not a plus. I like to read an audience as I speak. (I’ve never been aware of losing an audience due to boredom, but it’s a good idea to watch for it!) Do they look bored? Is there a lot of fidgeting? (Bad signs.) Or are they furiously scribbling notes and looking as though I’ve sparked ideas? (Good signs.) Webinars can make it challenging to get this sort of live feedback.
SOLUTION: Be sure to leave a comment box open so audience members can chime in, and schedule a time when you ASK them for specific feedback. You might ask, “How am I doing? Are you finding this helpful?” Or, as I asked, “Am I moving too slow or too fast?” Also, have your audience post questions they’d like you to address. Often, the last fifteen minutes of a webinar might be for such Q & A time. The comment box is an important means of connecting with your audience–use it!
POOR SOLUTION: I’ve attended webinars where speakers ask DUH questions and want the audience to give the (only) obvious answer. This is NOT what I recommend doing. It’s an insult to one’s intelligence when people do this, and they are clearly leading their audience by the nose to get them to buy a product, instead of having their best interest at heart and leading them into a great presentation. Ask open-ended questions, or at least, sincere ones.
TIP: When questions come in, jot them down. Either you failed to cover the information, or it’s something you hadn’t considered including. Perhaps you failed to cover it in enough detail. By keeping note of what questions come in, you can improve your next webinar or workshop.
PROBLEM: YOU CAN’T ASK A GROUP QUESTION (RAISE YOUR HAND–PLEASE!)
Just as you can’t see whether your audience is squirming or not, you can’t ask for a raise of hands in response to a question during a webinar. (Well, you can, as you’ll see below; but it’s not a good idea.) I like to open events so people can respond this way–it makes them feel engaged, and that their opinion counts. More importantly, it helps me get to know them. During a webinar, it would be time-consuming to wait for audience responses to come in, so how do you survey your group?
SOLUTION: Create a pre-webinar survey. When attendees register for the event, you send them to the survey, or send the survey to their inbox. My pre-webinar survey gave me even more information than a quick question or two at the start of a live event would have. I was able to use that information to tailor my presentation far more than if I’d gotten it a minute before the workshop opened. This pre-survey tool is really a secret weapon for the presenter. By asking the right questions, you can zero in on the needs of your audience and pack your presentation with value. One free tool is Survey Monkey.
Tip: Don’t just ask questions. USE the information when you create your presentation.
POOR SOLUTION: I’ve attended webinars where the presenter does indeed ask for the virtual “raise of hands.” It never fails to make me fidget, as minutes tick by. Just get to the good stuff, please! (Q&A is different, as the questions and answers are usually pertinent to everyone on the webinar. So do have Q&A–but don’t tally silly votes on things that don’t matter, such as, “How many of you have never watched one of my webinars before? Who cares! I wouldn’t dream of wasting my time answering such a query–or yours, by asking it. Neither should you.)
TIP: I discovered many people don’t want to fill even a two-minute survey. It’s to be expected that not everyone will reply. Nevertheless, to get the best possible response, I found it helpful to reassure people that answers were confidential and anonymous; it also helped to point out that they could benefit most from the webinar by telling me ahead of time what they were most hoping to learn. When they understood that filling the survey was actually empowering for them, responses increased.
PROBLEM: NO “RUBBING ELBOWS”
After a live event, people often come up to me to chat, ask questions, or just share notes about the industry. I cherish this networking time. If I didn’t enjoy rubbing elbows with other writers, I wouldn’t do presentations. So–how do you keep the conversation going with webinar attendees? Once they shut the window to the webinar, the connection’s over, right?
SOLUTION: Just as I would for a live event, I arranged a bonus download that attendees had to sign up to receive. That not only gave me a way to keep the relationship going, but helped grow my mailing list.
TIP: Prepare a bonus PDF (or something else pertinent to your subject) that is truly as helpful as you can make it. Give people a reason to join your list and WANT to stay in touch with you! You should, of course, already have a mailing list for readers–use it for workshop attendees, too. And every time you email your list, offer something of value.
This post is getting long and I don’t want to overstay my welcome! So here’s a few quick pluses that giving webinars can offer.
Income. I earned more from the webinar than I’ve ever earned at a single live event. If you’ve got valuable information, people who need it are willing to pay for it.
Convenience. I did it from home! No traveling time or expenses, no need to schedule my whole day around the event. Sure, I dressed professionally (as one should for any professional event–don’t be fooled by the ease of the method into behaving anything less than professionally. I recently attended two webinars where a Florida-based Christian businesswoman was dressed more for a stroll on the beach than a business-related presentation. Cover the flesh, ladies!) With convenience comes responsibility.
Worldwide Audience. An online event opens the doors to anyone with computer access. You can draw people from anywhere in the world! Also, if you include a guaranteed replay option, more people can register even if they can’t attend the live presentation.
A Product If you’ve recorded your event, you now have a product that you can give away for free, keep as a perpetual offer on your website, use to attract guests to future webinars or workshops, etc. Done well, it’s a feather in your cap, a building block to your all-important author’s platform, and something to be proud of.
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To Your Success!
wrote a trilogy of delightful regency romances
for the Christian market
before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with
Harvest House, her books opened up the genre for the CBA. She writes
YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R.
grew up in NYC and graduated magna cum
from CUNY with a bachelors in English Literature. A writing workshop instructor, Linore is married with five
children, home-schools her youngest daughter, tolerates one dog and three cats, and drinks far too much coffee.
In this third installment of the PULSE
EFFEX SERIES, foreign soldiers and
fellow Americans gone rogue are just the beginning of what Andrea, Lexie and Sarah must face. Beneath the
threat of nuclear strikes and guerrilla armies, the girls long for a free country in which to live–and love. Survival means resistance must give way to defiance. But can ordinary teens and their families withstand powerful forces and keep hope alive?