How to Host Better Webinars and Virtual Conferences That Aren’t Terrible

Look, can we just all acknowledge the elephant in the room before I go any further? Webinars have always been kind of dumb. ::checks over shoulder for webinar police:: Come on, how many webinars have you ever been to where you came away saying “Wow! That was just so inspiring, informative, and interesting on so many levels.” One? MAYBE two? That’s because webinars have long been the domain of the “thinly veiled sales pitch poorly masquerading as ‘free’ information.”

You want a conference? Go to a conference. You want a class? Go to a class. You want to disperse information to people in a fairly low cost way that’s a step above a blog?….IDK, a webinar I guess?

Key concept: they USED to be that way. Look, for now it’s what we’ve got ok? And they are going to be around a LOT more in the future. It’s been alright that webinars were just sorta FINE before, but now? They can’t just be fine. They’ve got to be good. We can MAKE them good. We can transform the genre, together, but we’ve got to do it right and we have to start NOW.

1. Turn your camera on I want to see your face

If you’re simply narrating a sparsely animated PowerPoint deck, you don’t have a webinar. What you have is a podcast. And that might not be a bad thing! Ask yourself: do I WANT my content to be a webinar? Is the experience enhanced in any way by being together at the same time? Is this primarily a visual or an auditory experience? Do I have anything to show or do I really only have something to tell?

I love podcasts. I listen to them when I run, when I drive, when I do the dishes. I download them to my device so I don’t have to even have a fabulous internet connection to listen to them. But if you asked me to sit down at my computer for 45 minutes and “watch” a podcast…..well, that’s ridiculous. If you only want me to listen to something, then please deliver it in a format meant for listening, not watching. And I’ll probably listen more!

If you want me to watch something, then show me something! Show me who you are, show me facts, pictures, movement, stuff, keep me watching.

2. Pick up your pace

Those in person meetings? Your only competition was me pulling my phone out of my purse and living under the delusion that everyone in the room assumed I was checking an important urgent email not scrolling through “23 Memes That You’ll Only Understand if You Grew Up in the 90s.”

Now? Your competition is literally every single thing in a person’s house or office. All of it. The entire internet, all the snacks, all the procrastination cleaning, and all the adorable pets.

If your pace lags, or you begin with a super lengthy introduction before getting to the point, you’re going to lose me, and you might not get me back. Your content needs to be relevant, clearly organized, and very obvious to me how it translates into something useful in my life.

3. Make people feel something

When you come home from a really great conference or seminar, what do you remember? Is it the specific knowledge you learned? Or is it the FEELING you left with? You know what I mean: that PUMPED feeling, that I CAN DO THIS feeling, that I’VE GOT SO MANY IDEAS NOW feeling. That’s what people remember. I hear you saying, “yeah, well you just can’t recreate that in a virtual space”…..but we can try!

We do that by showing genuine enthusiasm, concern, joy, sadness, whatever emotion it is that’s appropriate for your content. We do that by making people feel VALUED. By acknowledging their concerns and experience. By valuing their time and valuing their input.

Let’s Connect!

Planning an upcoming webinar or virtual conference? Let me help you. Reach out to me at EmilySchwartzSpeaks@gmail.com or follow @EmilySchwartzSpeaks on FB or Insta to see what I’m up to. There’s singing on there. It’s mediocre at best. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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