BUT... OMG! Over the last many months I have registered to attend all manner of travel trade webinars - most of them FREE (which could be the reason) and most of them absolutely terrible in design, delivery and information. Did I mention the presenter reading the slides? Did I mention the lacklustre approach to the sound reverb or the moderator not pushing for the best answer to the attendee's questions? How about the comments at the end of the webinar not realizing the microphone is still on?
As one of the original webinar pioneers along with Steve Gillick, the then CEO of CITC, I know how much time we spent creating, changing and practising (yes practising) each webinar to get the timing right. Even today, after years of delivering my style of webinar, I still complete at least three full practice sessions the day prior to the event.
There are rules and there is etiquette to delivering a professional webinar. For instance after the moderator as introduced the speaker or speakers and their lengthy bios, the speaker should never re introduce themselves and deliver, once again, their lengthy bio. Boring! The speaker should realize everyone on the webinar heard the introduction, they know who the speaker is and they are waiting to be edu-tained and even more so, to hear those promised gems of wisdom.
The webinar moderator and the speaker(s) should, prior to the event date, deliver the entire webinar... stopping and starting until they get the timing down and everyone is satisfied with the flow of information and the hand off - when the next speaker takes over, if this is a team delivery.
Understanding microphone and speaker feedback is essential, as is knowing that the faintest sound like the turning of a page on the presenter's desk, will be picked up by the microphone and the audience will hear it. Also the hubbub outside the presenter's office will be heard, not to mention the family dog if the presenter is delivering from home.
Next is the quality of the slide content. For the most part - awful! Boring! Of course not everyone has the design talent required or understands placement or colour, or has access to 3D graphics or is familiar with images that can supplement text. If the talent is not available then hire in someone who can create a vibrant presentation deck. The rule has always been less text more imagery with facts and stats in the Notes area under the slide if the slide deck is to be shared with the audience.
Verbal transitions are very important. A webinar is not a stop-start event. It has to flow. The presenter is required by webinar law, to lead the audience from one slide to the next, building the story or the message as the webinar proceeds. A simple, ".. now let me show you (click) what I mean on the next slide... you can see here.." Yet so many presenters stop talking according to their script. Then start again. You can hear them do this.
A webinar I attended this week was presented by a someone in senior management who, although had energy in his voice, was reading from a script. His timing and phrasing and the scuffing of each page as he turned each page over, gave the game away. He was acting the webinar. Come Q&A time, the responses were a rehash of the script. Boring!
Understanding the difference between product knowledge and sales is also a challenge. Most of the supplier webinars labelled as sales are in fact product knowledge webinars, not sales. The product knowledge delivered via the webinar is generally something a travel agent can read in a brochure or can be found on the supplier's website. What travel agents really need is the how-to market and then how-to close information. Both happen to be information that's missing from the majority of supplier webinars. If you think delivering the 'what' such as "go for groups, groups are big business..." is going to generate more sales, good luck. The 'what' always needs the 'how' - it's training law.
Let's Get Back To The Onsite Workshop
The best use of the webinar format these days is to use it as a component of what is called reverse training. The webinar delivers information and a downloadable workbook - then a full day workshop is scheduled to cover the topics in depth with an audience that has prepped accordingly. Now the training time is spent on topic, working the information, practicing, doing and sharing.
Keeping It Real, Keeping It Live
I love webinars and I love delivering them... but, I have to tell you, I'm making a play for taking the training back to the full-day event with each attendee online and using their laptop in the workshop. The format: listen, learn, do - then review. Plus time for attendees to share additional successes and / or ask for assistance.
The other options would be small group training online with full and live video feed with desktop sharing capability. The technology is here and ready to go.
Let Me Know Your Thoughts
Let me know what you feel about the webinars you have attended. Are they snoring- boring or absolutely 100% fantastic or somewhere in between? What would you change if you could? What about attending live workshops as explained above?
Gotta go. Prepping for my next webinar for The Travel Institute on October 10th. Check it out at www.thetravelinstitute.com - the topic Handy Clip Art & Graphics That Sell Travel. It won't be snoring-boring, I can guarantee you that!