Springingtiger's Blog

Seven Secrets of Presenting a Bad Webinar

Seven big mistakes and how to avoid them.

(Yes it is a tongue in cheek title, because as everyone knows, these days, every “how to” book or article has to be “The Seven Somethings of Whatever”)

Neelam Bakshi: a great presenter in action (the alternative caption is, obviously, “It was this big!”)

These days I find I am as enthusiastic about listening to webinars (Web seminars) as I am about attending Power Point Presentations, that is to say not very, but sometimes I find myself compelled to listen. Recently I have listened to two webinars by Book Coaches (coaches who help others with the processes of writing and publishing books) one by Alicia Dunams was excellent, the other whose presenter I shall not identify was a model of all that is bad about webinars.

The First Secret of presenting a bad webinar is BE BORING! Particularly at the start of the webinar, nothing is as guaranteed to put people off as pointless rambling. Yes, you may want to establish credibility, but lengthy talk about yourself is not the best way. As a listener I want to be presented quickly with a reason to continue listening. In Alcia Dunams webinar,“How to Write A Best seller In a Weekend”, as soon as she was introduced she quickly provided interesting information and some non detailed tips which she followed in short order with a practical technique I knew I could use; she even gave a tip for a punchy introduction to get people to pay attention. Her delivery kept to the point and continued to provide useful techniques I could take away and apply immediately.

The other webinar was about writing a book in twelve weeks, and the presenter spent rather a lot of time talking about herself and rather too little on what she could provide for the listener. She rambled and was unfocused, had not the idea for this post presented itself to my mind, I would have stopped listening, utterly bored, after twenty minutes.

The second offense is SELLING NOT TELLING! I have had the good fortune to attend several of Dan Bradbury’s conferences and one of the many things I have learned from Dan is that a presenter must give value. Even when a webinar is free, the listener is investing their valuable time in it. A good presenter leaves his audience feeling they have been given something of value and, hopefully, wanting and prepared to pay for more. Alicia Dunams gave her listeners a lot of valuable content while making it clear that her full course contained lots more they could use. The bad webinar presenter spent a lot of time telling the audience the things they could expect to learn on the full course, but without repaying their time investment with anything of value. A webinar that is going to make sales should contain content to enable people to get a taste for the material as well as promises of what they will receive. The bad presentation left me with little confidence that it would be worth spending money on the full course. At Dan’s conferences people are happy to pay to come to hear the best in their fields, and they are happy to speak for nothing because on the strength of their sessions people buy their product. It does not, unfortunately, work for me to sign up for Alicia Dunams’ course just now, but I very well may on the strength of her webinar, because I am confident she will deliver whereas the other webinar made me doubt where the presenter’s commitment lay.

The third really big mistake is TALKING RUBBISH! When you present you should confine your remarks to what you know and that includes any analogies you may make, sooner or later a listener will spot if you say something stupid and it undermines your credibility. If you are not sure of something check, particularly if you are coaching writers, research is crucial to a writer, good research, to a good writer, you owe them a little thoroughness. Personally I find it irritating when people make unsupported assertions, which brings me to number four.

FALSE ASSUMPTIONS Please do not tell me what I do or do not think, I don’t like it and, based on what I read and observe, neither do others. I find I am quite amenable to considering an argument that begins, “In my experience I find …. perhaps you do too…” whereas being told, “You will have found…” or, “You will discover…” is guaranteed to raise resistance. What can I say, I’m a mismatcher! When stating an argument it is good to base it on evidence, it gives it more credibility; it is inappropriate, except when addressing a specialist group, to assume your listeners will already share your evidence. Any assertion must be supported and that is particularly true when making an assertion about your listener. Many presenters find that it is more effective, rather than to make a directive assertion like, “You will have discovered…”, to use Milton Model language and instead suggest, “Many people have found…” this causes the listener to quickly examine their own experience; even if the suggestion is not true of their experience, because it is non confrontational, they are less likely to resist it.

The fifth error is to TELL WHAT, NOT HOW! Many listeners already have an idea of what to do. For example they may be well aware they need to overcome procrastination, they do not need to be told to overcome procrastination; give them a technique they can use NOW and they will thank you.
If you tell them, “Here is one of the techniques we use on the course to overcome procrastination (or writer’s block)” you are also telling them that you have more you can tell them, so you are giving them both value and an incentive. “We don’t have time to go into all our techniques just now…” tells your listener that you are not arbitrarily holding back, in an hour you really don’t have time to deliver your full course, but you have given them something they can use. Even if they don’t sign up today, if that technique works for them, your course goes into their mental “shopping cart”, if you have their email address you can hit them with another attractive offer a few weeks down the line, your successful technique will dispose them to seriously consider it. Don’t abuse the word BONUS! If you give a technique in your webinar, give it. If you give another technique then it’s another technique, it’s not a bonus, don’t pretend you are doing them a favour. Listeners are not stupid, don’t assume they are; when you give your actual sales pitch that’s the time to offer them bonuses. For example Alicia Dunhams, after offering an attractive deal on the price, then listed her bonuses they were additional ebooks detailing processes people could use to support what they learned in the course. The sales pitch is the only time I, the listener want to hear what is in the course, without the How; during the rest of the webinar I want the “How” to point towards additional “Whats”.

In my not very humble opinion AERY FAERY content is the sixth sin, but not always. Visualisation may be useful in a webinar about meditation, but if I’ve only got one hour to evaluate what your book writing course can do for me I don’t want to waste time on simple techniques I’ve been using since before you were born. If you want me to spend my money you need to convince me that I will get a return on my investment, that does not mean don’t use “New Age” techniques and material, both my wife and I have done courses because the meditation or therapeutic techniques demonstrated in the taster have worked and convinced us that there is something for which it was worth paying.

The final sin is LACK OF POLISH I don’t mean your presentation has to be slick and I accept that sometimes, you have to scroll through slides to get back to a point or answer an urgent question out of order. I do expect you to be well prepared and appear to know your subject. I once studied EFT with Karl Dawson who, back then, several years ago, was not a particularly good presenter in terms of fluency or confidence, but he so obviously knew his subject and made his demonstrations live that it was easy to overlook the deficiencies of style; he’s had a lot of practice since then. I like a presenter to be so confident in their subject and, if the webinar is to promote a course or program, their product that their belief is palpable, I do feel it is important that a presenter matches their slides to their content, I find it distracting to be looking at either the previous or next slide when I really need to see the one related to the current content. If, by the time I am half way through listening to a webinar, I am feeling bored, or cheated, or I feel the presenter is condescending I am not only not going to buy the product, but there is a real danger of my advising others to avoid it.

So in SUMMARY if you want to engage me and especially if you want to sell me something, be prepared, be well prepared. It’s a webinar so no one knows or cares if you are surrounded by idiot boards for every eventuality. Give me practical content that demonstrate the value of your product and not something I can get anywhere, sell me on your product. Show me How I can solve a problem or do something, don’t tell me what I need to do, I know the “what” I want the “How” and give it to me in a way that makes me want more. Don’t condescend to me and don’t pretend you know me, tell me what you can do for a particular niche and let me decide whether I fit it, when it comes to infoproducts one size does not fit all! Don’t make stuff up, don’t guess, do your research and back up your statements with evidence. Talk about what you know, you can sell what you know you can’t sell what you do not! I am not here just to make you money, so don’t deliver a one hour sales pitch full of promises, demonstrate the value you can deliver, make me want more and be confident you can deliver. Above all don’t be boring, after a tedious and badly presented webinar nothing is better guaranteed to prevent me from buying than the promise that, “there will be a webinar like this every week for twelve weeks” although I might be persuaded to pay to avoid it!

1. Be Interesting and passionate.

2. Tell don’t Sell. Give me stuff I can use, convince me your product is worth my time and money.

3. Speak what you know; if you don’t know what you are talking about, I don’t want to listen.

4. Communicate with me where I am; don’t pretend you know me, just tell me what you have to offer, let me decide if I want it.

5. Tell me how to solve my problems, write my book or whatever. Promises I don’t need, I need results.

6. Be practical; use content that works and is unique to you, make me realise you have something to offer. I’ve been around too long for fairy dust.

7. Prepare thoroughly; test your presentation, run the slides with the script, check your timings. You don’t have to be slick, but you should be professional.

I look forward to being inspired by you soon!


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