WebinarHero recently spoke with Julie Hillyard, co-founder of Telenect, a Utah-based web conferencing platform provider that provides high resolution video as part of their platform offerings. Telenect has branded itself as the platform for Thought Leaders and we’ve asked Julie to talk about her experience working with speakers bureaus and acclaimed authors, high resolution video and the pros and cons of its use in business. Full Disclosure: Telenect is a sponsor of the WebinarHero website.
WH: Greetings from Southern California Julie, thanks for taking the time. Can you share with us the story behind
JH: Several years ago, I was working and traveling with Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the things he talked about frequently was his desire to do more via interactive distance learning so that he could reach more people with less travel—have an improved quality of life while still achieving his life’s mission. When I quit working for him, I partnered with an online-learning and technology guru, and customer service master to create the ultimate platform for thought leaders. Stephen was our first client and we have since partnered with a number of speakers bureaus, authors, and other presenters to deliver live, interactive video events to audiences around the world.
WH: Telenect has produced web events for some heavy hitting authors. Tell us about that experience. What were the purposes of those webinars and what role did high resolution video play if any?
JH: Admittedly, we all do a small dance of joy each time we see a famous face in the video window of our platform—adds to the excitement of our jobs! The goals of the events we do vary tremendously, but I think in every case, quality video is imperative in helping the audience make a connection to the speaker, heavy hitter or otherwise. I can’t tell you the number of times a participant has emailed or called me following an event with an “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe he answered me by name!” type of a remark. There is something pretty amazing about sitting in front of your hero while they are looking you in the eye and answering your question. That’s an experience you miss out on when the only visual component to a webinar is a series of slides, or an author Glamour Shot. It’s almost cliché at this point, but research has shown again and again that 55-60% of communication is non-verbal…and you can’t capture that through PPT.
WH: We’ve had guests on the blog take the position that high resolution video isn’t necessary when conducting webinars. Can you share with us your vision for where the use of video in webinars and webcast is going?
JH: Absolutely. I guess we have been talking about the essential nature of that visual engagement, but I think it is worth distinguishing between the experience you get with real, high resolution video, and the fuzzy, postage stamp sized image I have seen on some events. For my money, I think that poor quality video does not add to the experience, and can even serve as a distraction. I read an article this morning that said companies are increasingly asking for smooth, large screen video as a part of their web communications strategies. We have absolutely found that to be true. It sounds a bit silly, but as technology progresses, people are expecting interactive distance learning to feel less and less…distant.
WH: Are there specific types of clients that would be better suited to using high-resolution video? Which types of clients, if any, should not use video in their events in your opinion?
JH: I’d say when the goal is small group collaboration akin to the traditional meeting around the board room table, I have not seen video really add to that experience very well. There are programs that help three or four participants effectively communicate with video, but beyond that you’re kind of getting into Brady Bunch grid territory. That kind of thing is certainly not our focus. If all members of the audiences are equal participants, it is a complicated affair if you want each person’s video image made available at the level of quality we’re talking about. However, if the purpose is to help create an emotional connection to the content or presenter, to get a message out to a medium to large group of remote participants, and to really engage that audience—that is where we feel our platform, and high quality video in general, really shine.
WH: What are the typical challenges your clients are facing when using video and how does Telenect help them overcome those challenges?
JH: That is a great question. There are many apparent obstacles standing between our clients and great video webinars, but there is no greater thrill than helping them through the process, showing them just how easy it can be. Technology phobias, past negative experiences, firewall issues or insufficient bandwidth—taken together, these can seem insurmountable, but that’s exactly why we carved out a niche as a full-service provider.
We like to head off any potential issues before the event. Before you can access an event on our system, you’re taken through a series of tests to ensure sufficient bandwidth, no problematic firewalls, etc. We assign an event producer to each event to manage (on the presenter’s end) all of the pre-event testing, training, logistical coordination and event setup. Then during the event we have an event moderator facilitating constructive chat (which allows the speaker to focus on content, free from distraction, while encouraging audience participation), as well as technical support to respond to those who might have any difficulties. This might sound excessive, and of course our solutions are scalable to fit the different needs of different clients (we are launching a “self-service” model soon, which will allow events at a fraction of the cost for the more self-reliant). But we find that the most important element of all this is participant comfort level, and we will do whatever it takes to get that part right.
WH: In your opinion, are there other features besides high resolution video that are key to great webinars?
JH: Yes. A way for the audience members to interact with each other and ask questions of the presenter. You want their hands on the keyboard periodically to engage them, and you want to encourage them to think of their toughest questions–to think about what is being shared. The speaker needs to know that the audience is paying attention and “getting it” and their questions reflect their level of understanding. Also, visual aides can really enhance the experience–everyone learns differently and you want to provide them with various ways to participate.
WH: Is cost a factor when considering a non video webinar vs. a high resolution, streaming video event? What are the typical cost/benefit decisions that need to be made?
JH: Absolutely…but not for long 🙂 As I mentioned, we will soon have a self-service option available which will allow customers to put on cost-effective events with high quality video. The cost/benefit analysis, again, is a consideration of what kind of connection to the speaker/content you are looking for.
WH: My favorite part of the interview…shameless self promotion time. What should people absolutely know about the Telenect?
JH: We are unique in that our platform caters to thought leaders needing to deliver a message in a powerful way in a one-to-many situation–we are not trying to be all things to all people and compete with the platforms better suited to a many-to-many situation. We developed our own platform, measuring every feature against the criteria “will this be best for a thought leader?” Because of our experience working with so many professional speakers and authors, we recognize that their experience with the technology needs to be as seamless as possible so they are able to focus on what they do best–teach! Oh, and I should mention that we stand behind all of our full-service events with a full guarantee.
Thanks for your time Julie. More information about Telenect can be found at www.Telenect.com.
WebinarHero recently spoke with Kathleen Sexton, founder and CEO of Kairos Learning, a Northern California based consulting firm that provides Training, Organizational Development and Career Development services.
WH: It’s good to talk with you again Kathleen, thanks for making the time to visit with us. Please tell us the background on Kairos and why you founded the firm.
KS: I launched Kairos Learning in December of 2008 because I wanted to deliver webinar solutions to organizations (professional development webinar courses, train-the-trainer courses, hosting services for webinars and conferences, webinar instructional design) because it was a new and growing field. Now there are SO many folks delivering webinar services. It’s great to see the field is expanding.
Kairos is a Greek term signifying a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens. What the special something is depends on who is using the word. Kairos Learning’s aim is to provide “kairos moments” of learning to people.
WH: Your firm uses the term “synchronous” training quite a bit. Share with us what you mean by “synchronous” and how it helps differentiate your services.
KS: Synchronous training typically means live, online training or a webinar. I like the term synchronous because it differentiates the type of courses we deliver from infomercial webinars or marketing webinars. Kairos Learning delivers training taught in a virtual, or synchronous, classroom.
WH: Are there any web conference platform features that you view as being critical to the delivery of a successful synchronous training?
KS: To achieve the level of interactivity for participant learning and engagement that I want in my training webinars, I need to have not only chat and polling features but also whiteboard annotation capabilities, web browsing, break out rooms, telephony via telephone, file transfer, feedback icons, and recording features.
WH: Can you share with us who your typical client is from an industry or demographic perspective?
KS: Typical clients seem to fall into 3 categories: 1) individual trainers who want to develop their webinar design and facilitation skills, and 2) organizations that are considering creating a webinar program to deliver services and need consulting on how to set one up, and 3) organizations that want to train their trainers on how to design and/or deliver webinars as a new delivery method for their training courses.
WH: What are the typical challenges your clients are facing prior to working with Kairos and how does a typical engagement work?
KS: A common client challenge is understanding how to translate in-person classroom training into an effective course in a virtual, live, online environment. It’s not as easy as putting up PowerPoint slides in a webinar platform and talking to your audience. But there isn’t a typically work engagement for Kairos Learning – each client’s training program (content, target audience, trainers) is different, so our solutions are customized for each client.
WH: What do you view are the top 3 most important factors to consider when using webinars to perform corporate training, organizational or career development?
- Does the organization support training by webinar? For example,
- Do they have the technology and tech support?
- Are their employees able to attend webinars without distractions from their work environment?
- Will managers consider a webinar as valuable training for their employees?
- Has the training been specifically designed for a live, online environment?
- Are the facilitators skilled in teaching webinars?
- Can I sneak in a 4th factor? What is the webinar platform and is it the best for delivering training programs?
WH: We’ve reached the shameless self promotion part of the interview. What should people absolutely know about the Kairos Learning?
KS: People should know that Kairos Learning provides webinar solutions that are tailored and customized to meet the needs of each client; we don’t have off-the-shelf solutions.
Our training programs are limited in participant size to provide an opportunity for plenty of hands-on practice and participation. The courses are designed for participants to really use and apply what they learn in the webinar sessions back to their own work back in their office.
Kairos Learning is offering webinar training courses geared specifically towards helping trainers, educators, presenters, marketing professionals and instructional designers understand the world of webinar training so they can effectively design and facilitate live, online classes. Classes in “Best Practices in Webinar Training Design”, “Facilitation Skills for the Live, Online, Classroom”, and “Strengthening Your Webinar Skills” start in early June & July.
WH: Thanks Kathleen. More information about Kairos and Kathleen can be found at http://www.kairoslearning.com/webinartrainingcourses.html.
The following is a guest post from Roger Courville, founder of the 1080 Group, who was recently featured here in WebinarHero’s Ask the Experts interview series.
Roger will be virtually presenting this week on May 5th, as part of the Brainshark Customer Connection. The title of the webinar is ‘Raising Your Webinar Engagement Quotient.’ Attendees can expect to learn:
- The three worst Webinar mistakes and how to avoid them
- How to think visually to avoid “death by bullet points”
- How to deliver an authentic, engaging online experience
All Web Conferencing solutions are the same, right?
by Roger Courville
You’ve been to keynote presentations, hands-on workshops, collaborative strategy sessions, and new-hire trainings. And for the sake of this post, I’m assuming you’ve delivered some of them.
As a speaker, how you work the room depends on your audience, your objective, how many attendees are in front of you…and how the room is configured. Ideally you’ve been part of choosing how the tables and chairs are arranged.
Web and audio conferencing tools often allow you to choose different “seating arrangements” too.
When you present virtually, your tools are your window to the world. How you’ll keep an eye on your audience, how you dialogue with them using chat or Q&A, etc. are all part of that toolset.
Like the in-person session, you will be more collaborative and flexible with a smaller audience, and you’ll need more structure with a larger audience. As you grow in your virtual presentation skills, you will discover that which tools you use, and how you use them changes too.
Many web conferencing solutions offer different configurations that are optimized for different ways of interacting…holding meetings, conducting training session, or delivering few-to-many presentations in webinars.
So which do you need?
The place to begin is with a perspective check. Cars are all the same until you realize they’re more than tires and a steering wheel, and web conferencing solutions are the same.
Next, begging thinking through how you would present and interact if the audience was in the same room with you. Will you ask for a show of hands? Would meeting members take turns at a whiteboard? Would there be a panel of speakers, or a moderator, or…? Will you ask audience members to contribute to the discussion?
THEN choose the best configuration of tools for your virtual meeting or presentation. And one thing you will discover is quite useful isn’t just the existence of a feature itself (e.g., chat), but the ability to turn it on or off based on the meeting or presentation.
The mistake to avoid, however, is thinking that they’re all the same. Or force-fitting a presentation that is supposed to be delivered like a seminar into a web meeting platform that’s designed for collaborative meetings.
Optimize your impact. Choose the right virtual seating arrangement.
Roger Courville is author of The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook, an internationally sought-after speaker and trainer, and Principal of 1080 Group, LLC. 1080 Group is a training and coaching firm helping executives design and deliver interactive webinar presentations and programs. The 1080 Group team has a collective experience that includes hundreds of clients, thousands of web seminars, and more than a million web seminar attendees.
WH: Thanks for taking the time Roger. Please tell us when and why you founded the 1080 Group.
Roger: My pleasure, Blaine. I’m an old-timer in the web conferencing industry, spending years in business selling web conferencing and webinar production services. The last company I co-founded, Corvent, was acquired by Intercall, and a partner and I were thinking ‘what’s next’ in the industry. As technologies mature, there’s an increased need for soft skills knowledge and skills, and as we quip, “Microsoft will teach you how to use Word, but they don’t teach you to be a writer.”
1080 Group sells no audio/web/video conferencing or production services as my previous companies…we focus exclusively on teaching people how to stand out through exceptional virtual presentation skills. We focus on is self-sufficiency…we’re not in the outsourced-services biz looking to have you hire us to do it for you or sell you our conferencing services…our goal is to equip you to grow professionally.
WH: You’ve written a book called The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook, give us the cliff notes on what we’ll find between the covers.
Roger: Experience. I wasn’t just helping other people produce webinars, I was making 50-100 presentations a year, year over year myself, and when I get an hour or a day with a client, I only get to share a fraction of what I know about how to deliver the goods.
Communications 101 teaches that the medium affects how a message is sent and received. The problem isn’t how to use a telephone and webinar solution, it’s how to effectively engage and delight an audience you can’t see. That’s not a “how to use technology” problem, it’s a skills problem.
I mentioned soft skills, and that’s what the book focuses on. For example, I’m not going to tell you “this is a poll,” but rather answer questions like, “What’s the best way to use one?” and “When should I NOT use one?” The book looks at every step of a webinar from planning to design to delivering from the perspective of “What is unique about really connecting with people in this environment, how can I avoid mistakes by learning from someone else’s mistakes, and how can I help people go “Wow! That was the most connected I’ve ever felt in a webinar!”
3) At a high level, can you share with us what constitutes virtual presenter best practices?
Roger: Well, I just got done saying I can’t cover it all in an hour and that’s why I wrote a book, but here goes.
Adapt to the Medium
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just “talking and PowerPoint.” This is an event and an experience. If you want a return on your efforts, give it due attention. Your audience can change the channel quickly, so if you don’t learn new skills in engaging them, you’ve just wasted your time and theirs.
Talk WITH, not AT, your Audience
As Garr Reynolds puts it in his latest book, “Death by PowerPoint is so common it’s just considered normal,” and I’m going to give you the webinar corollary to this: “Death by monotonous, one-sided webinars is so common it’s just considered normal.” The good news is the bar is low, and you have a great opportunity to distinguish yourself and build trust with your audience through authentically connecting with them.
Design an Experience
Bob Hanson at QLM Marketing and I JUST got done conducting a study about how to promote and deliver engaging webinars, and while I can’t divulge all the goodies here, suffice it to say that the results corroborate the elements of engagement I’ve been talking about. You’ve got to deliver value, you’ve got to think visually with your slides, and you’ve got to go beyond slides and monologue, taking advantage of the ‘liveness’ of the medium. Otherwise someone’s going to put you on speakerphone and do their email. Worse, they’ll change the channel. Unless you’re talking just to hear yourself talk, that’s a missed opportunity.
WH: Who are your typical clients and what do they typically want to achieve using web meetings?
Roger: My clients are mid-sized and larger organizations that call after seeing me present and say, “Wow, we’ve been doing webinars for four years and had no idea you could really connect with audiences like that.”
The buyer is the person responsible for teams who need to have something to gain from really connecting with an audience and who tailor presentations based on who their speaking to rather than someone just delivering a canned deck. More often than not this is sales and marketing crews in really competitive industries, and this means they both need to drive attendance (or nobody’s there to hear the presentation) and then achieve an outcome with their presentation (effectively getting the audience from Point A to Point B…some call to action).
WH: What are the typical challenges your clients are facing and how does the 1080 Group help them overcome those challenges?
Roger: The biggest challenge is that great presentations and webinars take time, and everybody has a day job. The minority of organizations can afford to outsource more help, meaning they’ve got to answer questions like, “How do I create more visually appealing decks and deliver more engaging webinars with limited time and money? And if I don’t have a Ph.D. in Photoshop?”
1080 Group helps them giving them pragmatic, ”Here’s what you can do right away” professional skills, applied in their own environment. By this I mean if they’re using Webex or Connect, we’re teaching them how to accomplish what they need to accomplish using those tools. If the marketing department has a style guide, we help you succeed within those parameters. The goal is to NOT share pie-in-the-sky ideas that everybody thinks are cool but nobody can do.
WH: What social media tools, if any, are your clients using to promote their web meetings?
Roger: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are the biggies in general, but we also shouldn’t forget that blogs are part of the social landscape, too. What’s right for the client is very specific to them, their audience, and their goals. I’m a huge social media fan (@1080Group on Twitter), but I also encourage them to think more in terms of networking and overall connectedness than “promotion.” I believe I earn the right to tell you something promotionally by delivering value first, and that’s what I teach them to do. Otherwise you’re just more noise in a world with too much noise.
WH: If I’m a company with a virtual sales force of 25 or more people, how important is it have a virtual presentation strategy?
Roger: Web-based presentations hold a unique and irreplaceable place in the communications mix, and you’ll find a chart of how I think about it on my blog (http://bit.ly/a6lpd0). Viewed this way, it’s as important as any of your communication modalities. You don’t replace in-person communication, and you take advantage of what a live event can uniquely deliver versus a whitepaper or other static content. If you don’t have a strategy for how to exploit and optimize the opportunity, you’re missing out.
WH: This is the shameless self-promotion section of the interview. What should people absolutely know about the 1080 Group?
Roger: How about if I avoid the shameless self-promotion, Blaine? 😉 Service, including ours, is a relationship, not a data sheet, so I’ll just say what I’d say to someone if they gave me a call. There is science behind what we teach. We aren’t going to drown you in the stuff, but not only do we draw on experience that’s deeper than anywhere, but we conduct behavioral research into webinar audience engagement. For organizations who need to radically engage and delight audiences they can’t see, I trust our work stands as its own testimony to how we help people do this, and anybody can catch a lot of free info on my blog at www.TheVirtualPresenter.com.
And one final thought for your readers…the bar is low, and this makes it a great time to outshine your peers and your competitors with effective online presentations, whether 1080 Group is the crew to help you or not. Go for it!
Thanks, Blaine. WebinarHero.com is a great resource.
WH: Thank you for your time Roger. As always, its a pleasure speaking with you. More information about Roger Courville and the 1080 Group can be found at www.1080group.com.
WebinarHero recently spoke with Ken Molay, the president of Webinar Success, a Cary, North Carolina based training and consulting firm that helps companies create and deliver successful online seminars. Ken is a nationally recognized expert in the field and we’re very happy to have him as our guest today.
1) Thanks for taking the time Ken. You’ve been a very prominent figure in the industry for a while now, can you share with us how you got started with Webinar Success?
I was director of product marketing for a software company in Silicon Valley. As a part of my marketing duties, I gave lots of web seminars to our own employees, to sales prospects, to prospective customers, and to industry analysts. I noticed that when I worked with business partners or colleagues as guest presenters, they often had a difficult time working effectively in this medium. Even people with training and experience in giving auditorium presentations found it difficult to relate to the unseen audience and to use the unique features of web conferencing to their best advantage. I was familiar with instructional courses and consulting firms that helped business people with speaking skills for in-room and television presentations, but I couldn’t find anybody offering the same skills focused on web conferencing. I saw it as an unfilled need in the business world and decided to create a business concentrating purely on web presentations.
2) Who are your typical clients (industry, size, etc.) and what do they typically want to achieve using web conferencing?
Every time I think I spot a trend in client demographics, I find myself surprised by a new client profile that is completely different! I have worked with gigantic Fortune 100 international corporations. But I have also worked with mid-size national businesses, non-profit organizations, and even one-person businesses who supply consulting or training in their own fields. In the early days of web conferencing, the overwhelming majority of business came from tech companies who were more comfortable applying cutting edge computer solutions to business. But now I am just as likely to work with companies in the travel sector, publishing, marketing, finance, personal services, retail, and most anything else you can think of.
Lead generation remains a very common application for public webinars, although I often help companies deliver internal and limited-audience webinars to disseminate information or provide value for employees, partners, and customers or members. I find that I don’t get as many requests for assistance with two other popular uses for web conferencing: Formal online training courses and classes are often organized by training professionals with their own expertise and experience to draw upon. In general they seem to prefer to research best practices on their own and apply them without as much outside assistance. And while small collaborative team meetings are a common use of web conferencing, there is usually not a need for formal third-party support and coaching to support them.
3) The whole web conferencing industry has grown considerably over the last 10 years, what changes are you seeing in how the technology is being used by your clients.
Awareness of web conferencing as a communication and collaboration medium is so much greater now than it was ten years ago! In the early years, I spent all my time just trying to get people to understand the basic concept of joining a real-time session on the web. Now just about every business person has at least attended a webinar, and companies are embracing the value proposition of reducing travel time and costs, improving environmental benefits, and expanding the reach of their communications to larger audiences over greater distances.
We are well past web conferencing as a novelty, and businesses are realizing that the technology itself does not determine success or failure of their communications. The emphasis has shifted – quite properly – to creating quality content, delivered in a way that resonates with audiences, while managing and measuring their efforts for maximum bottom-line benefit. Anybody can write a white paper, anybody can compose an email message, and anybody can give a web seminar. But the effectiveness of those communications is determined by the expertise of the practitioner and the planning that goes into using them to achieve specific business objectives.
4) At a high level, can you share with us what types of “best practices” you encourage your clients to implement?
Of course there are a myriad of detailed practices, tips, and guidelines that help to ensure success. But I’ll pick three big ones that I always try to promote. The first is to constantly think about the audience’s perspective rather than your own. From picking a title for your online event to organizing the content to phrasing your speech to introducing interactive polls, you need to consider what the audience cares about and constantly stress value propositions and benefits to them.
The second high level concept is to concentrate on vocal presentation skills. If your audience can’t see you, you need to engage them and hold their attention with your voice. This is a skill previously studied by radio personalities and voice-over artists and is not common training for the average business person.
And the third high level tip that I stress is that you have to force yourself to make the time to practice. You need technical familiarization with the web conferencing software, you need group planning and practice so that presenters, moderators, and assistants work together smoothly, and you absolutely must rehearse your entire presentation out loud to check your segues, phrasing, and timing.
5) Two part question: What’s your take on the importance/non-importance of high definition streaming video to the future of web conferencing? How do you think it affects the effectiveness of an event whether it be a sales presentation or purely an informational meeting?
This is where I get in trouble with a lot of the technology vendors who are madly promoting video as a major offering in their products. While the technology may support it, I find that in more cases than not, adding live video of the presenter detracts from the quality of the presentation rather than adding to it. This is because it is really very difficult to create a setting where a person looks their best on screen. And being on camera adds a tremendous burden to a presenter, who now needs to add another set of presentation skills to the ones already recommended for “voice and slide” presentations.
I am all for a well-produced, studio-shot video with proper lighting, sound, background, and camera operation. It really can add an additional sense of engagement and immediacy that audiences respond to. But your average office worker appearing on webcam at their desk is not likely to create the professional business image of your company that you would like. As for the value-add of high definition video, I am even more cynical. As your bitrate goes up, the number of audience members who can view the content without problem goes down. We do not live in a perfect world. Your audiences will be using old computers, “busy” computers running multiple applications, slow network connections, and so on. Are the advantages of seeing a little image of your face in high def worth increasing the probability of problems?
6) What social media tools, if any, are your clients using to promote their web conferences?
Twitter and Facebook are both common tools for promoting webinars. Several vendors and third-party event listing services have added integration with these services to easily post links to a registration page or information page for an upcoming event. If you belong to an active or large-membership affinity group on LinkedIn, it offers you another great way to reach professionals interested in your subject area.
7) What are the three most important things about web conferencing a communications or marketing professional should know when they’re tasked to build an in-house program?
Number one: Don’t kid yourself… A well organized, planned, and practiced webinar takes time and effort to set up and manage. If you don’t have the time and expertise to manage all the little details, get some help!
Number two: Webinars don’t magically make people appear. Getting people to be aware of your event, care about it, and show up presents the same problems as getting people to take any other business action. You need to promote, market, communicate, and prepare for the realities of public events. The industry average for a general public lead generation webinar is that only about one third of the people who register will show up on the day of the event.
Number three: The psychological effects of a good webinar wear off quickly. Follow up with attendees while they still remember the value they got from you and are feeling open to reciprocating by taking an action or accepting a communication from you. If you just feed registrants and attendees into the bottom of a contacts queue in your CRM system, destined to get a follow up email or phone call a week or two later, you won’t get much benefit out of their attendance. Your communication goes back to feeling like a cold call.
8) This is the shameless self promotion section of the interview. What should people absolutely know about you and Webinar Success?
I’m just going to let people know about some free resources I make available. Each day I hand-pick articles and press releases directly related to the webinar industry and post them at www.WebinarNews.info. I don’t mix in other types of conferencing such as audio or video conferences, and since I place each one on the website myself, you won’t see repetition from four different sources picking up the same story. I also have a blog at www.TheWebinarBlog.com that I use to cover developments and news items of special interest, personal opinions, tips and best practices, and product reviews. I even have a page with links to other industry blogs from vendors and experts such as WebinarHero!
Thanks for your time Ken. More information about Ken Molay and Webinar Success can be found at www.wsuccess.com.
At the request of our users, we’ve begun an “Ask the Experts” Interview Series of posts where WebinarHero talks with recognized experts in the field of web conferencing.
WebinarHero recently spoke with Wayne Turmel, President of GreatWebMeetings, a Chicago Illinois based consulting firm that assists online meeting organizers with their events. He’s also the Virtual Meeting and Remote Team blogger for BNET and the author of several books including 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar.
1) Thanks for taking the time Wayne. Please tell us what the ingredients are for a great web meeting.
Not to be a smart aleck about it, but the ingredients are the same as a face-to-face meeting, except the coffee is usually better. You hold a meeting to pass information clearly, engage in constructive, real-time discussion, get to know each other and reach decisions. It’s not about the technology per se, it’s about how the meeting is planned, facilitated and followed up on. A webmeeting is harder because people have less time, their attention span tends to be limited and you can’t get that rich person-to-person communication. We use technology to fill as many of the gaps as possible.
2) What is your approach when assisting with both experienced and new to web meeting organizers?
Form follows function. I always ask people, whether individuals in training or companies planning their strategies, “what is it you’re trying to accomplish?” From there you plan for it. Do you need to incorporate video? Do you want interaction? How will they do that? If your meeting has a hundred people, it will be harder to be truly interactive, although you can use chat and polling tools to get feedback and keep people engaged.True training should take place in smaller groups just as in the “real world”. If you expect the audience to be passive, their learning will be limited and they’re going to put you on mute while they answer email. A true webmeeting should NOT be just presenter and audience. That takes practice and planning. Most people are never really taught that. They’re taught how to load their PowerPoint slides, connect the audio and try not to hurt someone with it.
3) Agreed – death or injury by Powerpoint is not good. Can you share with us the different types of web meetings you’ve been involved in?
Like any type of presenting or public speaking there are essentially 4 types of webmeetings: marketing webinars (external lead generation) and Town Hall meetings (which are basically internal marketing broadcasts), sales demos (which need to be interactive and persuasive), training ( which needs to engage and assess learners and follow the rules of Adult Learning) and functional meetings, which need to gather data, allow discussion and achieve a specific outcome like a decision, get buy-in or give status updates.
4) Who are your typical clients and what do they typically want to achieve using web meetings?
My clients range from small consultancies- who are usually looking to do marketing webinars but don’t quite know where to start- all the way to companies with multiple employees or customers scattered around the world who know they need to use web presentation and meeting tools to get the job done and want to give their people the chance to be successful at it. Most of these organizations have bought a web presentation platform but are shocked to discover that people aren’t using it, or at least, aren’t using it well.
5) What’s the three most important things a web meeting organizer must do to be successful?
2 of the 3 things involve planning that has to occur before you ever fire up your webmeeting. 1) Think about what you want to achieve, and how will you use the tool to achieve it. 2) Analyze your audience and figure out what will encourage participation and buy-in and plan to do those things. 3) Present effectively using good vocal and verbal skills in conjunction with your visuals. The web means you have less time and people are more easily distracted.
6) What social media tools, if any, are your clients using to promote their web meetings?
The obvious tools like Twitter and LinkedIn are great if you’re inviting people from outside your team or your company. I also like Eventbrite if I’m inviting people or selling seats for a webinar. Many of the web presentation platforms now have invitation and audience tracking tools that are very helpful. Make sure you investigate what you’ve already got.
7) We’d like to think WebinarHero is a great resource too, but we’re biased Wayne! It seems like Mondays are off limits when scheduling a web meeting. When do your clients typically schedule their meetings and why?
The problem with scheduling is that we mostly use this tool to cover distance, which means time zones are an issue. Noon in New York is the dead of night in Singapore. Morning in Boston means someone in San Diego is trying to function on a meeting before they’ve had their coffee. Schedule thoughtfully, not just for the folks at the Home Office. A lot of resentment gets built up when people out in the other locations feel like their needs aren’t taken into account. The other interesting finding our research shows is that Friday is a great day for training and marketing webinars because more and more people work from home that day and can actually watch and take part without being interrupted by others.
8) How important is it to have a guest speaker or “expert” as part of the presentation?
This is more important in marketing and “event” type webinars than with functional meetings or sales calls. People tend to be content centered (will this help me in my job? What value does this have for me right now?) than presenter centered. If you are not a big draw yourself, a good reason to have an expert or co-presenter is to leverage their audience and bring them into your fold.
9) This is the shameless self promotion section of the interview. What should people know about GreatWebMeetings.com?
We are completely platform neutral. Our focus is not on technology (truth be told I’m a bit of a techno idiot) or selling any particular platform. We start with what is it you’re trying to accomplish, then find the tools you need to do the job and train your presenters to use them to their fullest. I love working with people to understand that this technology can be looked on as a curse (“They won’t let us travel so we have to use this stupid thing”) or you can see the possibilities of beating time space and dimension to boost productivity, increase learning and shorten sales cycles.
Thanks for your time Wayne. More information about Wayne can be found at www.GreatWebMeetings.com.
Interesting post on Ars Technica about the bastardization of the english language. It seems that Lake Superior State University would like to banish the word “Twebinar”, a lingual mashup of “Tweet” and “Webinar”.
To Twebinar or not to Twebinar, that is the question.
Our first reaction is NOT to Twebinar….but it may grow on us just like “webinar” did. And in the long run, if the word “webinar” is really as “hideous” as LSSU would have you believe. We at WebinarHero have a ton of re-branding to do.
We leave it to the educated masses to decide. What say you?