When most of us think about speaking professionally, we imagine being on stage in front of cheering people, looking up at us with tears of gratitude as we dispense our wisdom, motivation or sage advice. Then we wake up.
These days, you’re as likely to be invited to speak to groups over the web (usually for free) as you are to be asked to speak to the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary club. There are two ways to look at this: either from a position of scarcity (“they aren’t paying for travel any more”, “they are too cheap to bring me in”) or you can look at it as an opportunity to expand your brand and your business. One of these is infinitely more constructive.
According to our research, there are 4 reasons speakers hate webinars:
1) We don’t have a great relationship with technology
2) The logistics of setting up a webinar by ourselves can be daunting
3) We aren’t confident we can market them effectively
4) Here’s the dirty little secret behind a lot of the griping- they aren’t nearly as much fun as being in front of an adoring throng of live human beings
The fact is that “webinars” are a great way to increase awareness of your expertise and your brand, expand your database and create free content for your website. The fact that they save a ton of money in time, travel and hotel room rental make them hardly the worst compromise you can make.
Most speakers have a love-hate (to be charitable) relationship with technology. The idea of having to present while also staring at a screen and trying to remember which button to push, and what happens if it all comes crashing down, and I can’t see them and what kind of voodoo is this anyway… there’s no shortage of internal dialogue around the topic.
The fact is, that the technology component is not as big a deal as you’d think. The platforms are becoming more and more stable and intuitive all the time. Like most tools, it is a matter of using them until you become comfortable. Practice is critical- the first time you present your webinar should NOT be when you have live prospects on the line.
The logistics of putting on any presentation are daunting, and when you add the unfamiliar technology component, it can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. Take the time to plan out your webinar from concept to follow-up. Give yourself plenty of time (we recommend 6 weeks for all the planning and other activities, but that’s just a suggestion). Remember there are 4 essential components to ensure you are moving your speaking business forward:
1. The webinar is designed to move the right people to purchase your service.
2. You integrate the plan with your overall website and marketing strategy
3. When you deliver your presentation it supports your brand and makes you look like the professional you are
4. Your follow-up is fast and professional and you SELL
Marketing Your Webinar
As with all marketing, you want to invite as many qualified prospects as you can. The nice thing about webinars is they lend themselves to electronic (mostly email and newsletter) marketing, which is time intensive but mostly free.
If you don’t want to rely on your own email list or database, a great technique is to partner with associations or organizations that regularly provide webinars to their members and are always looking for compelling, interesting (low-maintenance) speakers. Yes, they don’t pay but you do a lot of free speeches now to less qualified groups and you can do these without leaving home or even taking off your bunny slippers.
They’re Not as Much Fun As Face to Face Presentations
Nothing beats the energy of a live crowd. Applause is addictive. If you think of webinar presenting as sitting alone with a phone or headset talking to your laptop, you’re right. How much fun can it be?
If you look on this as a “necessary evil” or a bad compromise, you won’t have any fun with it. If, on the other hand you see it as just one more way to get your message in front of an audience your perspective will shift. The possibilities are actually many.
Hey, it won’t be the same as that conference keynote, but there are things you can do increase the interactivity of your presentation and make it closer to a face to face event. Some of these include:
a. Use webcams
b. Opening the audio lines to let people speak, comment and ask questions by voice
c. Use interactive features like chat, written questions, polling and other tools (depending on your platform).
You’ll be amazed how willing people are to be part of the presentation and not simply passive observers.By increasing the interactivity you’ll find yourself enjoying the process more. Many presenters are surprised at how much fun they have presenting online.
At the very least, it won’t suck as badly as you think it will. I promise.
Whether it’s as lead generation, establishing your expertise, or driving people to your books, seminars or other products webinars are an important new tool in any speaker’s business plan.
You can hold your nose and do them reluctantly or you can see the possibilities, lower your stress level and have fun while building your business brand.
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