How Not to Run a Webinar

I attended a webinar this morning and I learned a lot. I learned how NOT to run a webinar.

It was obvious that the presenter was familiar with the topic of his presentation. In fact, all things considered the topic was interesting, the graphics were fine, and the guest list was superb. It wasn’t one of those snoozinars I’ve attended one time or another. I’d say that it would have been a great success, if only…

If only… the presenters had been familiar with the webinar interface. This webinar was put on by a marketing partnership who used the Webex server. For those not familiar with webex.com, it’s the software that lets people hold virtual meetings all over the world. There are other webinar servers such as gotomeeting.com, glance.net and freeconference.com. It’s a great idea, in theory. But, webex meetings always leave me with a distaste in my mouth. It was the first time that they’d ever tried webex.com Gee, thank you for letting me be your guinea pig. I really learned a lot.

If only…the promoters who sent out the invitation for the webinar had correct information on the invitation. I have a feeling that the less technically inclined just gave up after the third try. But give me a challenge and I’m going to figure out how to solve it, or die trying. This information said to “follow the prompts” which in the end, turned out to be incorrect. You either didn’t have audio or didn’t have visual, its supposed to be both. Finally, I got the correct information to put in so that I could have both audio and visual connection and passed that number on to as many people as I could reach through the chat side bar as I could so that they could also get in.

If only...the presenters did a run-through with people who weren’t their clients or potential clients before holding a webinar . Get to know the software. I knew the presenter had never used the software before as he said so and because he had to load it onto a different computer because it wouldn’t even work on his computer. That tells you something right there. If the presenter couldn’t even get it working, doesn’t that tell you that the rest of us were going to have trouble?

If only…they opened up the “room” at least 15 minutes before a session began so that the participants could familiarize themselves with the interface, introduce themselves and resolve any problems if there were any. The session started exactly at the time that the “room” opened and that left those of us who were still pounding on the virtual door feeling left behind.

If only… the presenter contacted each person to make sure everyone was on board before he started his presentation. For some reason there was a group of us on the outside of the meeting that could talk amongst each other but could not hear the presenter.

If only…there weren’t so many distractions. Every time someone came and went there were beeps. There was also a lot of back ground noise. If only they’d turned off the alerts and muted everyone during the main presentation. One person disrupted the whole conference when they answered another phone call and didn’t realize it was being broadcast live. The presenter didn’t realize, again not familiar with the software, that all he had to do was hit the mute button, but instead we were treated to a five minute conversation from one of her unhappy customers about some order that never arrived.

If only…the attendees had been told in advance how to ask a question. Likewise, the presenter should also know how to answer a question. I saw about 10 virtual hands up and the presenter never recognized them so I think he didn’t realize it.

If only…the webinar presenters had read Flyte President Rich Brooks’ blog post on planning, promoting and producing effective webinars.

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