What makes web seminars underwhelming

You won’t have to have attended many web seminars to find one, if not most, are the equivalent of boring online slideshows.  This isn’t the fault of the medium…it’s the fault of people.

Here’s how most web seminars come into existence.

One, someone creates a communications, training, or marketing plan.

Two, they add “webinars” as a line item.

Three, they figure out that these things take time, and given that there’s a hard deadline, any extras they’d conceived get moved from the “must have” to the “nice to have” column.

There’s a favorite quip at 1080 Group that goes something like this:

“Poorly-planned projects take three times as long to complete as planned… and well-planned projects take only twice as long.”

A web seminar is an event.  It’s a project.  And project management isn’t about using a piece of software, it’s about the soft skills of managing people and resources.

If you study classic project management, you’ll be familiar with what they call the “triple constraints” – time, budget, and quality.  They all affect each other, and you can’t change one without changing the other.

So what’s the driving constraint with a webinar?  Time.  So what suffers?  Usually quality.

Presenters don’t invest in designing a quality user experience, so they waste everybody else’s time by going “blah-blah-blah, questions?”  Producers radically underestimate the quantity of tasks under that “webinars” line item in the plan, so the resort to the basics.

So what to do?

Put on your event planner hat.  Every venue might be different, every event unique, but there are several long checklists in their toolchest that help them not miss details as they plan to make the experience a memorable one (in light of the event’s objective, of course).

To have great web seminars, you need to invest.  First with a commitment to your audience, and second with a commitment to creating a system so that as much as possible is repeatable.  This isn’t meant to be a sales pitch, but that’s why 1080 Group created the Web Seminar Producer’s Toolkit for clients…because it radically decreases ‘learning by trial and error (it’ll be available for retail purchase soon at www.webseminartoolkit.com), and because it focuses on soft skills.

To have great web seminars, treat them like any other event.  Get beyond “online slide show” and create an experience.

Avoid the “online slide show.”  Invest in your audience.

2 thoughts on “What makes web seminars underwhelming

  1. Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC

    Hi there Roger,
    I have done dozens of telecourses, but never a webinar. Even for my telecourses, I spend a significant amount of time preparing very substantial workbooks, so as to make the learning experience memorable.

    I did my MA in adult education and distance learning in 2003-2004, and I was also the Microsoft UK Innovative Teacher of the Year in 2005. Of course, for my degree, I had to create and teach online courses, but these were never put into practice in the “real” world, and the technology we used back then is NOTHING like we have now with Web 2.0. Back when I was a college director (I’m a coach/author now), I designed online materials for face-to-face courses and trained other teachers in educational technologies, but I never really got the chance to create a full-blown online course that made 100% use of all the gifts technology had to offer.

    Now, I really want to branch into webinars, as I think using technology to deliver education is a fine art. AND, as you say, the thought of the time element really gets me weighed down. I cannot wait for your Web Seminar Toolkit to come out, especially because I am developing 2 new courses that absolutely NEED to get out of the realm of teleseminar and be actual webinars. If you are looking for a Beta user, in exchange for a substantial testimonial, I would be happy to volunteer. Please drop me a line.

    Warm wishes,
    Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC
    Personal Transformation Coach

    Author of Amazon bestseller, “The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self”

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  2. The Virtual Presenter » Blog Archive » How long does it take to produce a webinar?

    […] Producing an online event is a project like any other.  Just like a piece of Word doesn’t make you a writer, a webinar solution […]

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