So, You Think You Know What A Webinar Is!
November 2, 2020
By Liza Vasquez ICF CMC and Jeffrey F. Silber CPA MBA CMC
Certified Master Business and Life Coaches
Just because using Webinars as a promotional tool has become simple to mount, does not mean that it is easy to create an effective one.
We have been recommending Webinars to our clients for several years now, long before Zoom, and other similar software, made it so simple, because of their potential effectiveness.
Like a tropical storm slowly growing in intensity, beginning in March 2020, when a few law firms ventured into the world of Webinars, seven months later it has become a tsunami of Webinars.
Recent research shows that by October 2020, the typical chief in-house counsel receives more than thirty Webinar invitations every week! How can they possibly decide which ones to attend? Another frightening part of the research shows that the majority of those who decided to attend any particular Webinar, leave after only ten minutes.
What the hell is going on!
In a nutshell, here is the problem. The internet audience of today is expecting a high level of production values. Any TV channel would spend many hours in preparation and rehearsals for one hour of airtime. Do lawyers do that? Not at all. Typically, the organizer tells each presenter how much time they will have to speak, and they usually never rehearse together.
Why do the visitors leave after ten minutes? Regardless of the subject matter, there is nothing more boring than four or five talking heads talking at the audience. There is generally no interaction between the speakers other than to thank the moderator for inviting them and greeting the other speakers in what is usually a self-congratulatory moment so as to tell the audience, Aren’t we great!
If you want to have a successful Webinar, let us take it from the top.
The Main Rule
Do not even think about presenting a Webinar unless you have something extremely interesting and unique to say. Focus on the Webinar strategically because the technical aspects are trivial nowadays.
The Webinar Process
You need an audience to attend your Webinars. Of course, you will invite your current clients and all prospective clients you are pursuing. But you will most likely want a wider audience. Therefore, you will need to obtain mailing lists which can be purchased from LinkedIn and other professional providers of mailing lists at a cost.
Pay attention to the rules regarding privacy and unauthorized use of people’s mailing address. You will begin by sending enticing invitations and reminders to these lists of thousands of unknown targeted people as the day and time for the Webinar approaches, in order to obtain perhaps 50 to 100 attendees.
Repeat your invitations several times as the day of the Webinar approaches.
If you want the attendees to register in advance, you will likely need the help of an IT professional because this would be the only complicated aspect of Webinar technology. If you go to the trouble of requiring the attendees to register, the result will be gratifying because now you have a specific list of people who have expressed at least a preliminary level of interest in the subject.
Record Your Webinar
You should record your Webinars, which should subsequently be posted on your firm’s website. If you are a panelist on someone else’s Webinars, record your portion of the presentation and publish it on YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms.
You can offer the same Webinar again in a few weeks. Repeat the process of getting people to register and offer it at a specific day and time to give the appearance of being live.
Creating a Successful Webinar
First, you must resign yourself to rehearsing. This is not the Improv Club in New York. Putting on a good show takes lots of preparation and rehearsing.
Second, if you are going to be the host, there must be no glitches with the technology at the time of the Webinar. That should all be smoothed out well in advance.
Third, as the moderator, you will need to develop an entirely new format if you plan on holding the audience’s attention. Instead of each participant getting their 15 to 20 minutes monologue, it should be a true panel format.
· Ask each participant to submit 3 or 4 questions that go to the heart of the subject to be discussed.
· Caution: The speakers in most Webinars present very technical explanations of their aspect of the subject matter. They speak as if their target audience consists of other lawyers. Are other lawyers your target? Generally, the answer is “no.”
· A Webinar should not look and sound like a lecture in graduate school.
· Your target should be potential clients.
· Therefore, the speakers should present their ideas as if they are speaking directly to potential clients. The emphasis should be on how this subject will directly impact potential clients. If the subject will not have any impact on potential clients, then the topic of the Webinar itself was poorly chosen.
· It may be difficult to maintain your energy when you are talking into a computer. Nonetheless, you must act as if that machine in front of you is a real person.
· In advance of the Webinar date, the moderator should distribute all the questions that the speakers have submitted to all the other speakers. Ask them to prepare an answer for all the questions even though not every speaker will be called upon to answer all the questions. But they must be prepared, not surprised.
· During the Webinar, the moderator should read a question, and call on one or two of the speakers to answer. With the next question, the moderator should mix up the people responding to each question.
· All Webinars ask the viewers to submit questions, but they are seldom, if ever answered, on the air. The moderator should make the audience the invisible additional panelist.
· At the beginning of the Webinar, the moderator should ask the viewing audience t
o submit questions as the Webinar progresses and that the panel will try to answer the questions while you are on the air. And promise that any questions not answered during the Webinar, will be answered personally by one of the panel members.
· With each question that the moderator asks, see if the audience has submitted a relevant question. If there are no interesting questions coming in, the moderator should have some questions up his sleeve. We have a question from Dr. Gaspar Granados in Buenos Aires, he asks…... The audience will never know that such questions were not actually sent in at that moment.
· What we are saying is that the general attraction of a Webinar is its live interactive nature. Do not lose the opportunity for this live interactive aspect.
· Actionable Take-Aways: The audience needs actionable suggestions from the panel that they can really use. The moderator should do a round up asking each speaker what they want the listeners to take away from the Webinar.
· Sending the Viewers Something: Allow the speakers to offer to send the audience a downloadable book or report or other relevant proprietary information if they write and request it.
· The last screen should be the email addresses of the speakers. Leave it up for a while for those who did not copy it down before.
· Allow the individual personalities of the speakers to shine through. Let the audience see their sense of humor. Let the audience glimpse what it would be like to work with these lawyers. Allow a lively interaction among the panelists.
· Buy an external microphone, the sound quality is much better than your computer’s tiny built-in-mic
· The camera in your smartphone is much better than your computer’s built-in camera. Buy a tripod, mount your mob
ile telephone horizontally and use the camera of your phone instead of the one in your computer.
· The combination of the above two points, will make your technical sound and appearance excellent.
Do not allow your panelists to read from a prepared document. Lawyers often like to do that to be sure they cover all the points. It is boring because it takes a professional actor to be able to read from a printed page and make it come alive. Let your panelist have some bullet point notes in front of them, if they must.
The above format guarantees that all participants get a fair chance to make their presence known.
Looking good on camera can be easy. However, you would be amazed at how many speakers appear in silhouette with the light behind them, are unkept and underdressed, look at their telephones when it is not their turn to talk, and so on.
In our website, in the Learning Center, you will find last month’s article on Improving Your On-Camera Performance. Follow what it describes, and you will appear professional and impressive.
Improving Individual On Camera Appearances
On our website, in the Learning Center, you will find our article from July 2020, titled, “Maximizing Your Appearance On Camera - A New Skill For Lawyers.” There you will find tips for the individual participants in webinars as o improve how they appear and come across when they speak on camera to an audience or in a video call with a client.
Instead of your audience leaving after a few minutes, they will stay. You will develop a loyal following of potential clients who not only stay for your entire Webinar, but who will look forward to your next Webinar. And, you will have a much higher conversion rate from listeners to clients.
An Alternate View of Webinars
Perhaps your Webinar audience does not matter. Instead of trying to convert your audience members into prospective clients, invite your prospective clients to be members of the panel. Yes, invite a panel of all in-counsel counsels to speak on a particular topic. They should not be your current clients – they should be the prospects you are chasing. In this way, you will start to build a relationship with them.
If you are planning to hold your next (or first) Webinar in the near future, please contact me, Jeffrey Silber at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me help you structure a truly effective and productive Webinar.
Private Coaching For Improved On Camera Performance
Liza Vasquez, president of Silber, Vasquez & Associates has been an acting coach in Hollywood and New York. She has also directed Off-Broadway theater. Please contact her at email@example.com to arrange for a coaching program to improve your on-camera presentation, or for your team. Remember, you can also reach out to Liza for coaching on anything related to any feelings or concerns you may have during these trying times of COVID-19.
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