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By the books, a webinar is an online event that is hosted by an organization and broadcast to a select group of individuals digitally. So, why is it that when I hear the term webinar, I get strong feeling of disgust? Webinars have become scheduled, unhelpful, boring, uninspiring content in an already cluttered, extremely busy and complicated professional environment. Now, let’s be clear: I’m not advocating that we ban webinars forever and strike them from the internet. But what I’d love to do is help identify ways to make them much less torturous for your audience. The first step is to change the perception of what your audience will get out of your online event. It’ll help you avoid falling victim to a negative impression on the critical, invested audience who sat through the webinar they signed-up for in the first place. Here’s my simple five-step plan to make sure your next webinar ≠ torture:
  1. Make an institutional vow to never use the term “webinar.” Ever again. In an effort to overcome the “waste of time” perception, here are some alternate terms to consider:
    1. Hangouts
    2. Info Session
    3. Digital Event / Summit / Convo / Seminar
    4. Spark Session
    5. Live Q&A
    6. Interactive Session / Meeting / Discussion / Seminar
    7. [Brand] Talk
    8. Curiosity Session
    9. Group Chat
    10. Working Point
    11. Digital Exchange
  2. Ask yourself, does it have to be a scheduled event? Why can’t it be inspiring, engaging, and relevant on-demand content?
    1. Nowadays, our culture has gotten us used to immediacy; we have little patience (or at least I don’t) and when we can’t have what we want when we’re looking for it, we find the information elsewhere. In the occasion your audience is willing to return later for a scheduled webinar (oops, there it is again), why make them wait to access the content with the risk that they won’t attend? Watch how shifting the content from scheduled to on-demand will improve perception and consumption of your valuable content.
  3. Think outside the box and change the format. Perhaps it becomes an on-demand YouTube video, interactive poll, or even host a Google Hangout?
    1. Perception is reality. Since audiences have grown accustomed to what webinars entail, changing the format alone will change their perception about what information you have to provide. Intrigue them with a different experience. It’s a simple way to break the mold of a typical webinar (see?! I can’t stop using this word.).
  4. Your viewing audience is asking you to provide value, so give it to them. Remember the following when developing content:
    1. This is NOT a sales pitch. They are interested in your perspective on a certain topic.
    2. Give it structure and tell them what to expect upfront.
    3. Make it valuable. Leave them with actionable, inspiring information that they can do something with.
    4. Make it entertaining!
  5. Ask yourself: Will my content be memorable? Consider the most recent online event you attended – do you still remember the content and takeaways? Did you walk away with anything useful? Or, did you simply ask yourself, “Why did I just waste my time listening to that?” Look over the content for your event with a mindful eye and ask yourself:
    1. Is my content shareable? If not, why not? What can I do to make it shareable?
    2. Will my event be different than other events my audience has already attended online? What makes my event different or unique?
    3. Will my audience recommend my event to a friend or peer?
Make a change, think about things differently, and give your audience what they are asking for. And even consider putting a dollar in a jar each time you or your co-workers use the word “webinar”…you’ll be cruising to the Bahamas in no time. Need help planning for or transforming your next webinar? Get in touch with us!And for further reading, check out the following links: