I've sat through a fair number of web conferences lately. And I'm sorry to say, most of them made me wish that I had spent my time doing something more fun or interesting--like slowly pulling off that hangnail that's been bothering me.
This is not a slight on the presenters--their information was great. And I realize that not everyone is a skilled public speaker. Some lack experience doing this sort of thing, or may have had a limited time to prepare.
Which brings me to my point:
The webinar makes all of these things worse. Times a million.
Have you ever heard the phrase "death by PowerPoint"? Simply put, this refers to the problem many presenters have of forgetting about good speaking technique, and choosing instead to give a presentation by reading 30 slides out loud.
In other words, a webinar.
Sure, most speakers flesh it out a bit ... but does that really help? How much of your webinar do you think I'll remember next month? Next week? Tomorrow?
Not much. The researchers at Rexi Media, a company that specializes in presentation training, say audiences will forget 90 percent of what you present--within two days. That's right; that leaves only a few main points from your 45-minute webinar.
If you want to find those points again a week later, how do you do it? I'll tell you how--by spending another 30 minutes searching through the recording for the only three points you care about.
Then there are those dreaded "word whiskers." Word whiskers are those small "words" that people use when they're searching for an expression or out of nervousness: Umm, eh, ur, ah... We all use them, and they may creep into even the best presentations.
But in a webinar, we don't have anything else to focus on. We can't see you; we can see only your slides (one of which we've been staring at for the last 10 minutes). So those annoying expressions are all we have to focus on ... along with the thought of jumping out the window.
How about the distractions of the live audience? Granted, this problem exists with any recorded presentation. But again, in more traditional presentations we are focused on you as the speaker, so we can be a little more forgiving. The webinar is a little different...
Here's a real quote from a recent webinar I attended:
"Sorry, I ... yeah, there we go. Yup...
(Another voice from the background) "Can you ask the audience to put their phone on mute?"
"Yeah, sure. So if someone is not on mute, can, um, can everyone just check that, um, that their phone is on mute ... cuz it's making a bit of a ruckus in the background..."
(Full disclosure: I believe I might have been the "ruckus." Well, actually, my 2-week-old daughter was the real culprit. Sorry about that.)
See what I mean?
So, if not a webinar, what's the alternative?
How about a Slideshare? It saves me a lot of time, I still get to see the wonderful slides you created, and you save time, too--because you don't have to read them to me. Want to include some additional points? Great--add some accompanying notes. What about questions from the audience? That's what the comments section is for.
Or, you can stick with the traditional presentation, with a mix between a focus on the speaker and intermittent slides. (Who doesn't love a great TED talk?) A good presentation can be an effective way to teach, build your brand, and relate to and inspire your audience.
But the webinar is a bit like Old Yeller--it's diseased and it's become dangerous. It can actually damage your brand, or send your audience looking somewhere else ... or at the very least, waste time that could be used more effectively.
And we all know what happened to Old Yeller.
Yes, the time has come. You know what we've gotta do.
So--who's with me?
If you feel the same as I do about webinars, leave a comment in the section below. Or better yet, share this article with everyone you think can help us put the webinar out of its misery.