Q&A: How do I get experience presenting at webinars?

Hi Roger,

I just finished watching the playback of one of your Citrix
presentations, and I had to email you tell you how much I enjoy them.
You are professional, personable, and exceedingly knowledgeable, and the
hour flies by whenever I watch one of your webinars!

I do also have a question. I design and develop eLearning. I’ve done
many of the behind the scenes tasks of online courses, but I haven’t yet
taught online. I’d like to get some experience, and I thought
volunteering to present on a webinar would be a good way to start. Do
you know how I could offer my services to companies in this way? Any
advice appreciated.


Karen, let me tackle this by starting at, well, the start.

Get clear on your purpose.
Even if it changes down the road, I’d get clear on your longer-term purpose.  Do you want to get a job, develop a speaking career, be an independent trainer, or…?  Again, it can (and will!) evolve, but in a short few sentences you’ll want to be able to answer “what problem do I solve for whom?”  Can you help them develop eLearning on a budget?  Or improve how their human resources department brings on new employees?  Or…?  You get the idea.

One thing I can say as an entrepreneur who’s started multiple companies, there are days when even the best job in the world is harder than hell.  Answer, “If I succeed wildly, is this going to take me in the direction I want to go?”

Back up the ‘why’ with the ‘how.’
Second, with the first thought in mind, how are you going to answer them when they say, “Okay, we’re interested…tell us how this will work?”  I know not everybody’s into sports analogies, but in some pro sports they coach rookies to “act like they’ve been there” when they score, have a good game, etc.  Remember that even if you’re volunteering your time, you’ll cost them their time, coordination, and risk to their credibility for bringing you in.  You’ve still got to present value, even if there’s not a dollar figure attached.

Start with a free public webinar or series.
You can get trials of many conferencing solutions that will give you a chance to get your feet wet for free during the trial.  Depending on how you promote it and how many attendees you’re going to have, a service like Dimdim where you can host up to 20 people at no charge might do the trick for you on an ongoing basis.  Here are some reasons:

One, you need to develop content.  Good content takes time, and great content takes a LOT of time (but you already know that).

Two, you make your mistakes in front of people who can’t ask for their money back, not the people who might hire you.  And unless you’re spending a lot of money on promo or have a boatload of Twitter followers, you won’t have a large crowd to learn in front of.

Three, the feedback will be invaluable.  Make it a point to ask questions before, during, and after that you know will give you what you need as a self-learner.

Four, get some testimonials for your website, your data sheet about yourself, or other promotional activity you may have.  Next to a direct referral, these are gold.

Figure out what your audience is willing to pay for.
Finally, get some honest feedback about what people (ideally speaking for your target market) found valuable.  YOU might think something’s cool, but if you’re going to sell it to someone else, it needs to create value for them and their audience.  And here’s the key… even if your intent is to continue offering what you’ve got on a volunteer basis, there are two reasons:

One, if someone really would pay for you content, they’ll be even more likely to show up if it’s free.

Two, sooner or later the volunteer gig has to end unless you’re independently wealthy or otherwise don’t need money.

Good luck!  Let me know how it goes for you!

1 Comment

  1. Karen

    Thanks Roger, you’ve given me a lot to think about!

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