Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wed on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Roger Courville @1080group He is known as “The Virtual Presenter.” Roger is a sought-after speaker on how to improve productivity using live webinar presentations. Roger’s company 1080 Group, LLC, is an independent training firm that helps companies learn and optimize online presentations and Webinars For more information log on to www.thevirtualpresenter.com Roger is author of The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook. Contact Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org
SmallBizLady: What is a webinar?
Roger Courville: A webinar is a web-based seminar. It is a live presentation that brings presenters and audiences together from any place in the world. Participants view the presentation via a web browser while listening to the presenter via a telephone conference call or over the computer speakers. If your content can be shown on a computer, it is a good candidate for a webinar.
SmallBizLady: What are webinars used for?
Roger Courville: You can use a webinar for – lead generation, customer training, product demonstrations, etc. The key is you must know what your call to action is and what questions to ask to help you build and advance a pipeline.
SmallBizLady: How can a small biz owner use webinars to boost sales?
Roger Courville Hosting a webinar is great for capturing data to building your list. You can capture data via registration, polls, and surveys that help you avoid missing follow-up opportunities. Combined with registration data or exit surveys, this can be powerful for building a business.
Smallbizlady: What are the top 5 mistakes people make with webinars?
Roger Courville Assuming people are paying attention. A recent survey suggests 88% of attendees are multi-tasking. Create an experience or become background noise.
Not using dialogue or asking for participation. The presentation still might be mostly you speaking, but you wouldn’t stand in front of 20 people in-person and never ask or answer a question, would you? Don’t wait until the end of webinar, either. Don’t present at people. Communicate with them.
Death by PowerPoint. Webinars increase the importance of having visually engaging slides. You need to engage visually or you’ll get tuned out. The audience isn’t captive.
Poor voice quality. I recently conducted a study on webinar presentation best practices, and out of seventeen success factors, audiences chose “quality of the speaker’s voice or delivery” second only to “user friendly webinar solution.” Not everyone was born with a radio voice, but everyone can use what he/she has with passion and inflection. Remember to enunciate, and remember that what sounds exaggerated to you doesn’t sound exaggerated to your audience.
No prep or rehearsal. Most people over-estimate their ability to “wing it.” You’re a professional businessperson, be a professional presenter. And professionals rehearse.
Smallbizlady: How can you get people to attend your webinar?
Roger Courville Present a topic of value, and people will attend. More important, if it’s quite valuable to them, they’re more likely to engage. Multi-tasking is high in webinars. Shut off the sales-speak or they’ll ‘change the channel.’
Smallbizlady: What is the best day and time for webinars?
Roger Courville The best day and time to host a webinar is the day and time your audience is most likely to attend. If you were to schedule a meeting with them, what do you think would be the tme in their week they’d be most likely open? The most common days/times are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 9am and 2pm local time. That said, I’ve seen fabulously-attended webinars at odd times or right before holidays.
Smallbizlady: How long should a webinar be?
Roger Courville For most presentations, unless you’re utterly awesome, keep it to less than an hour. Training webinars are the one exception, but even there, the trend is to “chunk” content and distribute them over time rather than try to tackle too much in one session.
Smallbizlady: How frequently should I interact with people during a webinar?
Roger Courville Think about how frequently you’d interact in-person and make it a point to do it more frequently online. You’ll never command 100% attention, but make it a point to learn how to connect with them naturally.
Smallbizlady: Should I make recordings of my webinars?
Roger Courville I think you should always make recordings. They’re simple to make, and they’re great backup. Offering the recordings can be a great tool to generate additional leads, and share with someone who wanted to attend the live webinar but couldn’t. Be sure to think through what parts of your sales process need to be live via a webinar versus what can have impact as a recording.
Keep in mind, recordings can be an awful way to deliver mission-critical messages. Recordings don’t engage like live dialogue, and if the content is important, consider whether or not it will be effectively consumed in a recording.
Smallbizlady: Can I charge for webinars?
Roger Courville Absolutely. Just like you can charge for content that is valuable that is distributed in any other medium. Even if your webinar is free ask yourself “What would they pay for?” Plan content that someone finds valuable, and then if it’s free there is just that much more incentive for them to register and attend.
Smallbizlady: Can a webinar be a direct sales pitch?
Roger Courville Yes – if you’ve promoted it honestly. Clarity in the promotional and registration page content is key. Don’t try to boost attendance by pitching one thing and then slipping in a sales pitch.
Alternatively, if invitees know what they’re showing up for, a direct presentation of your product or service, a webinar can be a great way to connect with people – and gather valuable feedback to advance the sales process.
Smallbizlady: What do webinar attendees hate the most?
Roger Courville Presenters who read slides or scripts. I know when I’m in the audience and this happens, I always want to ask, “Why didn’t you just give me a document and save us both some time?”
Content that is not as advertised. We spoke about this already, but let me put an exclamation point behind it: trust is the new currency of trade. Don’t risk your brand to get a few extra attendees.
Presenters that drift off-topic. Remember that they’re giving up something more valuable than money – their time. Respect that by delivering what you promised.
Smallbizlady: Name some top webinar software solutions?
Roger Courville The top players are Webex, Adobe Connect,DimDim Citrix Online, MSFT LiveMeeting, but there are 200 players – many good ones.
My recommendation is to think “easy to use,” “capturing valuable data,” and “easy to make recordings” as you shop around for a service to use.
It’s important to think about what you want to accomplish. Free is free for a reason: don’t save 30 bucks on a webinar solution and waste hours doing extra production or missing valuable data that could help you close sales.
Smallbizlady: What about video?
Roger Courville Video is a valuable tool when it’s the right tool for the job. Much of the time, however, I find clients want to use video to compensate for bad slides or a slow-moving presentation. Remember that any additional technological “ask” of your audience means you have that much more chance of an attendee having a poor experience. I recommend using video only if it’s critical to what you need to show, but often it’s not.
Smallbizlady: Why should a business owner consider conducting webinars?
Presenting in a webinar changes the focus of your audience. How you use your voice and how well you prepare your slides increases in importance.
I’ll never advocate replacing all face-to-face talks, but I do believe that any business owner who doesn’t expand their bag of tricks is missing out on new opportunities.
Smallbizlady: How can you turn a teleseminar into a mini-webinar?
This will appear like an ad hoc presentation, but it’s really a sales tactic. To turn a phone call into a webinar opportunity ask you audience “Can I show you something in the next eight minutes?” at the push of a button. It a great way to shorten the sales cycle by making tomorrow’s appointment today’s presentation.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9pm ET follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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