The 3 pleas of your post-information age audience (that they won’t likely ask to your face)

Let’s face it. Some part of your virtual audience is exhaustipated.

The question here is, “If this is true, even for part of my webinar audience or virtual learners, what are the most important things to think about to best serve them?”Exhaustipated_TheVirtualPresenterDotCom

It takes effort to get people into your live event or class. If attendance is voluntary (like a public webinar), you better engage them or they’ll check out do something else. Or leave. If attendance is compulsory, you still have the problem of them showing up from the neck up (and staying engaged).

Let’s assume that we’re already in a post-information age, I-can-get-anything-I-want-instantly-can’t-I? world. If this is true, it’s likely humanity will, if we’re not already there, experience serious deficits in three things: Attention, meaning, and connectedness.

Here’s what I think they’re saying to us:

Why should I listen to YOU?

I. Demand. Relevance. Quickly.

Don’t you realize that an abundance of content includes an abundance of people claiming authority? Heck, you can’t swing a dead feline without hitting a guru. I know Scott Stratten, and you ain’t him.

I’m glad you’re the VP or have a Ph.D., and I’m sure that’s important to some people. But I’ve met enough of them that suck at helping me that I’m not listening until you’ve got something to say, that’s interesting to me, and done in an interesting way. 

What do I want in your webinar? First, can that lame moderator. I don’t care if they’re the editor of a magazine. Have you helped them help you help me know what’s coming and why the heck I should listen?

Oh, this is a virtual class at work and there’s no moderator? Same diff. Skip talking about you. I can find out about you on the web. If I can’t, I’m already wondering if I should listen.

How are you going to help me make sense of things in a new or useful way?

Information is everywhere. I can find content that’ll give me five tips for launching widgets on a half a dozen blog posts. Now you’ve got me listening, but is this going to be worth sitting through for an hour?

Here’s the thing. It takes me time to gather information, so maybe you’re helping me by sorting through the maze. Maybe you’re helping me connect the dots in ways I hadn’t seen before. Maybe you’re even provocative and controversial in a way that makes me think about whether or not I agree with you.

If I’m really lucky and have nothing better to do, I’ll sit and listen to theory. I really like that stuff. More often than not, though, I need to learn something that will help me do my job better tomorrow, give me hope in the world, or something else that helps my mind and heart right now.

What do I want in your webinar or virtual class? I can get your facts anywhere, anytime. You and your stories that help me make sense of it all is what I’m missing in that whitepaper or textbook.

How are you going to connect me to you and to others that are here?

When I go to a conference there’s this critical thing there I’m not getting in most webinars: A shared experience.

I do, indeed, want your unique point of view, but do you know what just might be even more valuable to me? Your ability to respond if I don’t understand so that I can connect some dots.

Better yet, how about you also help me connect with my peers and, while you’re talking, we all have a chance to give our input, share our resources or fears or hopes or that Julie has a dog named Bono.

I appreciate that you’re an expert on a topic. In your webinar, though, I want more. I want you to be an expert at creating connections for me.

Here’s the bottom line, friend

I want to like you, and I want you to succeed. I really do, because that means I get something out of this. You’ve just got to help me out a little bit. However short, this is a relationship, and I’m not going to give a crap until I see that you give a rip about me. Got it? #KThxBye

4 thoughts on “The 3 pleas of your post-information age audience (that they won’t likely ask to your face)

  1. Mike Monroe

    HAHAHA! “Exhaustipated.” This should ABSOLUTELY be in Websters.

    I’ve been grappling with “how are you going to connect me with others.” Any great strategies for that in a webinar setting, other than “join my (insert virtual communal space here)?”

    1. TheVP

      Hey Mike, I tend to think the “connect me with others” is one of the most overlooked aspects of online .

      Let’s push pause on the word webinar for a moment since it tends to get overused and therefore becomes meaningless for accurately describing behavior or use-case.

      If we’re talking seminars (albeit, web-based), start with what people do in in-person seminars. We talk before, during, at breaks, and after. Most seminars aren’t keynote speeches or one-way broadcasts. Unfortunately most webinars are more like speeches, lectures, or broadcasts than they are seminars.

      So, before, during and after, how do we connect people? I’m not sure there’s a great answer. There are many partial answers, however. Omnovia and TalkPoint, for instance, can suck a Twitter feed into the chat, but you can’t post out to Twitter (unless something’s changed recently). SpreeCast integrates deeply with Facebook and handles before/after stuff in a great way, but a video cast is a long way from the collaborative conferencing toolset that is needed in many seminars/learning settings.

      One new tool I like the looks of that would help non-Twitter users participate is, and you could use it before during and after. Unlike Twitter, it’d be better if you want the discussion to be private, but unlike Twitter it’d also not scare up new interest if that’s important to you.

      So, what’s the answer? Probably that you probably should get very specific about what YOU are trying to do and assemble accordingly.

      Unfortunately the one-conferencing-solution-to-rule-them-all doesn’t exist for you yet…or it’s still being forged in the bowels of the mountain and we don’t know about it.

  2. Josh

    When I hear the word “webinar” I think, oh no, not another one! How about a “free online class” or “workshop”? Then I might be interested assuming it would help me somehow.

    So what if there was a way to encourage interaction among the class attendees? I’ve often found connections by mutual guru following. The guru is really busy, but the followers can help each other.

    1. TheVP

      I agree, Josh. Most “webinars” are not web seminars.

      And I love the idea that you, as an attendee, take responsibility for connecting with others. You get it!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.