Looking to up your webinar game? Here are the top 5 webinar mistakes to avoid, plus a bunch of great tips to help you achieve webinar awesomeness.
Mistake #1: Your webinar is an unstructured brain dump
Adult learners are busy learners, and they only pay attention if there’s something in it for them that they can apply to an immediate problem. In order to capture your audience’s attention, you need to make it clear what the content is that you’re providing to them. This is best done by chunking your content into topics, and then providing a preview and a review at the beginning and end of each topic. This gives you a whole webinar and all the content that it contains, a clear purpose, and relevance, which makes it easier to command your audience’s attention and makes it easy for them to understand and retain, and then apply the information that you’re providing.
You show slides as sign posts to indicate when you are at the start and beginning of a section. It’s fairly common for webinars to run for one hour. Personally, I think that it’s ideal to keep the time limited to 30 to 45 minutes. This gives you enough time to cover three main points of around ten minutes each, plus 15 minutes for question time. Using that structure, you can create a session plan, which will help you plan out what you will cover in your session, how long you will allocate to each topic.
Mistake #2: You lead with a long, boring introduction
Mistake number two: having a really long, boring introduction, typically spending too much time establishing your credibility. You’ve probably been to far too many webinars where the presenter gave a 20-minute introduction about themselves, including all their achievements, their experience, and their qualifications, and why you should be listening to them. Now, I understand that this can come from a place of insecurity sometimes. We’re worried that people won’t take us seriously or won’t believe that we know what we’re talking about, but I can assure you that people would rather that you show them you know what you’re talking about rather than telling them that you know what you’re talking about.
The fastest way to establish your credibility is to talk about your audience’s problems, and then give them the solutions that they can apply.
Mistake #3: Using slides as a script
It is not necessary to put everything that you want to say on a slide, show it, and then read from it. Even if you don’t literally read from your slides as a script, it’s very common for people to put way too much text on slides. Now, most people don’t like reading training material, but if you put text in front of them, something, sort of compulsive behavior tricks in, and they’ll read through the text on the slide. And while they’re doing that, they’re not listening to you anymore.
The worst thing is that they will jump through to the end, anticipate what you have to say about this topic, and stop listening for the next couple of minutes while you catch up to where they are. This is not great. A best use of your slides is to illustrate your point or to use them as signposts to mark the beginning and end of sections of your presentation. I would strongly encourage you to practice the art of making good slides. It makes a huge difference to the perceived competence of a webinar presenter.
Now, some resources that you can use to teach yourself how to create great slides are TED Talks, books about TED Talks, the website SlideShare, or a series of books called Presentation Zen, including Presentation Zen Design. I love these books and I do my best to create slides at that standard. However, I’ve still got a long way to go myself. When I ran this as a webinar, the slides for this presentation were created in Canva, which is a free online graphic design tool. It’s a very easy-to-use tool and most things are just drag and drop. I like the fact that it has a great library of premade graphic elements, such as the little flag showing mistake numbers on the slides.
You can also buy templates for presentations, either Keynote or PowerPoint files from places like Creative Market, or you can get them done on Fiverr, or you could even hire a graphic designer to create templates for you or even your entire presentation.
If you do need to add lots of text to your slide, remember the six-by-six rule. Any slide should have no more than six lines with no more than six words per line. A situation where you might want to use more text on a slide than normal is where you are listing names of things. This helps people to take accurate notes to spell those names correctly, which makes Googling a whole lot more easy.
Mistake #4: Not delivering value
Mistake number four is not delivering value. This is fairly self-explanatory. You don’t want to waste your audience member’s time. You want to make sure that any information that you provide to them will standalone and can be applied whether or not they decide to take up the offer that you’re providing at the end of the session.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to hit record
When you present a webinar, you are creating valuable content, and the recording becomes an asset. I have to admit that the reason why I am sitting here rerecording this presentation right now is because the recording of my original live webinar failed to save properly. It’s embarrassing to admit that even though I remembered to hit record at the beginning of the session, I hastily closed my laptop down at the end of the session, before GoToWebinar had a chance to finish downloading my recording file to my laptop. Now, if you are likely to make similar mistakes, always have a computer that’s running with very little spare memory space. You might like to consider using one of the other webinar platforms that doesn’t require you to download recording files directly to your machine at the time of the presentation.
Google Hangouts is a great choice in this regard because you are able to save your recording and publish it directly to YouTube, either as a public video or as a private video. If you have remembered to hit record, you’ve created a very valuable asset that you can add to your membership site or your eCourse that you can use as an opt-in bonus to encourage people to join your mailing list. You can add it to your sales funnel as what we would call an Evergreen webinar, which is when you use a recording of a webinar on a landing page as an incentive for somebody to provide their email to you to add to your list. You can post a recording to YouTube to generate crazy referral traffic and boost SEO like nothing else can.
I’ve heard statistics that suggest that if you post a blog post and a video with the same title, the same content, and the same key words, that video I want to achieve a 30 or 40 times higher ranking in search engine results as compared to the blog post. Of course you can always blog at it as a post, either with or without extra text directly to your website, or you can post part or all of it directly to Facebook if you’d like to see your Facebook traffic explode. You can also review the recording to learn where you can improve so that you get better results from future webinars.
And there are two reasons why your audience will love you forever if you provide a recording. Firstly, it’s because your audience is likely to be global and the difference in time zones means that there is no session time that will suit everybody on the planet at the same time. Providing a recording can extend your reach to a much larger audience. Also, your audience is likely to be quite busy. They’re either commuting between their homes and their workplaces, distracted by everyday life, or they might be parents of young children and we know how unpredictable children can be and how much time they can take up of your day. Parents will love you for providing a recording that they can watch at a time that suits them.