A GREAT and common question comes in from Tracey at Think Up Consulting.
The short answer to your question is “no.” For a couple reasons.
One, makers of web conferencing/casting solutions have a vested interest in making it seem easy. And with many of them it is. This is NOT a black mark against them ~ they are succeeding in making it easier now than it’s ever been, and you could create/host a webinar nearly instantly if you wanted to. Planning an online event is like planning one offline – the time it takes can vary dramatically based on the amount of detail you want to tackle.
Two, anybody who produces events professionally for others doesn’t necessarily want to disclose that information. That’s okay, I worked in that business for a long time and co-founded a company that ran hundreds of events a month on behalf of clients. We didn’t disclose it either. (NOTE: now I’m in the teaching business, not the production-outsourcing business, so I trust this will be a rare and unbiased tidbit you won’t find elsewhere!)
To figure out how producing a webinar is going to impact your organization, do so from the perspective of the three key roles necessary for a great webinar: production, presentation, and promotion.
Producing an online event is a project like any other. Just like Word doesn’t make you a writer, a webinar solution doesn’t mean three-clicks-and-you’re-done either.
Guidance: When I owned a company that produced events on behalf of clients, we averaged 13 hrs of labor for a client’s first event with us, and with regular customers who did a lot of events we trimmed that to about 9.5 hours. Note that that is with a TIGHT system of doing things and event producers who did nothing but manage webinars full time. If you don’t have a system, much experience, and/or your solution of choice is very full-featured, pad that. I’ve had clients tell me they spend 40 hours getting a webinar out the door.
A presentation can be developed quickly, but a great presentation rarely is. That’s why so many of them suck.
Guidance: How long does it take you to create a presentation that sufficiently tells your story and represents your brand? That’s no different in an online presentation. If your presentation producer doesn’t adapt presentations to the webinar environment in his/her sleep, add some time.
Reaching an audience with a message/offer that generates a conversion action (registering/attending your webinar) is like any other demand generation activity.
Guidance: Some activities, like copywriting, always seem like they shouldn’t take long, but great copy is like a great presentation. Arguably this is going to be the most familiar guestimate you can directly correlate to known time expenditures.
Finally, I’d part with one comment. There’s a reason we all make jokes about ‘death by…” Most webinars are underwhelming because folks don’t make an investment in their audiences or their own success (read this research paper about a recent study I conducted on the topic).
The good news?
The bar is low. And since you’re smart enough to ask good questions, you’re going to wow somebody.