Webinars. They’re like going to the gym. You know you should attend them — but they take up so much time. An entire hour. Eternity in today’s world when many people won’t sit still for a video longer than two minutes.
I find Webinars hard to attend because I don’t like sitting through all the chitchat and marketing talk that happens up front before you get to the good stuff.
Speaker X is from Company Y and you have to know who Company Y is and what they sell.
Oh, and don’t forget the sponsor plugs.
Then Speaker Y has to talk some more . . . and next thing you know, fifteen minutes has passed and you’re still staring at the same slide.
Ok, I’m exaggerating. Maybe.
I had all this in mind when I started doing Webinars about five or six months ago. (I offer them to my newsletter subscribers, in case you’re wondering why you haven’t seen them. You can find some of the decks on SlideShare.)
I value my time and my subscribers’ time, so right from the beginning I wondered how I could simplify and streamline the process. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Start right on time — When I send out the email with the Webinar link, I state we’re starting on time. And we do — or at least within a minute or two of the scheduled time. I greet people by name (the advantage of an intimate group) and then we’re off.
2. Cut all sales and marketing talk (all of it) — I made the decision to follow the advice I picked up from David Skok, a venture capitalist at Matrix Partners. He says marketers spoil potential relationships by constantly trying to sell people. (See his post, “Why Selling is the Worst Way to Win Customers.”)
I decided not to sell. I know. It runs counter to everything everyone tells you.
3. Keep the topic simple — I work with lots of small business owners, consultants and freelancers. The one thing I hear constantly: Overwhelm. People are simply overwhelmed with too much information.
To make things easy to digest, I’m learning to present bite-sized information on a single topic. Less is better as Matthew May says in his book, The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything. (Absolutely LOVE this book.)
4. Keep them at under 45 minutes — At first I worried that people would think my Webinars not “beefy” enough because they weren’t an hour long. But who said they had to be an hour long anyway? Who came up with that rule? I don’t know.
I decided the Dianna Huff Webinars would be just fine at 45 minutes or less. Doing so has helped me hone in on what I want people to walk away with.
In his book, The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda talks about the lecturing method of Wolfgang Weingart, the master of Swiss typographic design:
Yet it was maybe on the third visit that I realized how although Weingart was saying the exact same thing, he was saying it simpler each time he said it. Through focusing on the basics of basics, he was able to reduce everything that he knew to the concentrated essence of what he wished to convey.
Today, I’m happy to say, I reached my goal: My Webinar clocked in at roughly 35 minutes. I feel pretty good about that.
One, I love helping people, so giving people information they can use, without overwhelming them, is important to me.
And two, if they can get a few tips, a strategy or a few easy how-tos in 30 minutes — and this information changes how they work, for the better — then I’ve done my job.
It’s a total win-win. For me and for my audience.
What’s your opinion about Webinars? Do you attend them? Why or why not?