Customers. Every successful business has them.
Not so surprisingly though, the most successful businesses realize how important they are. When a customer is happy they tend to:
- Buy more
- Tell their friends about your business
- And remain loyal
And who doesn’t want that.
At HubSpot Academy, the team that I’m on at HubSpot, a major role of mine was to develop a way to onboard and educate our customers on introductory topics, while simultaneously teaching them the software. What a beast.
If you think about it, most educational platforms don’t teach you theory and hard-hitting processes – like tools. In math class, you learn formulas. In history class, you learn history through understanding stories. In
We had double the challenge, educate them on theory and the tool. And this was exciting.
After creating and running webinars for almost three years, I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. A lot. And as part of my effort to give back to the community, I’d like to share those insights here.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Determine if a webinar is the right medium.
I’ll keep this short and sweet here because many of you have already determine that a webinar is best, but before you commit 100% and dive in head first, consider – is there a better medium for this message?
Generally when people reference “webinars” they mean the more lecture-based style of learning. This is similar to the traditional model of education or the teacher teaches, the professor professes and the student listens. Lots of research has been done lately to determine that there is a better way of learning – and it’s called flipping the classroom. You can learn more about this method here, and we’ve recently implemented it with our introductory training at HubSpot Academy.
Here are some other types of mediums possible:
- Blog posts
While these are quite different from a webinar, if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to share information with customers, these are great options.
Know your audience.
Your webinar audience is the most important group you have. After all, they’re the ones who have taken the time out of their day to sign up, login and listen to what you have to say, and so bringing the right content and tone to them should be your number one priority.
After all, Harvey Fierstein has said, “What looks absolutely fabulous in rehearsal can fall flat in front of an audience. The audience dictates what you do or don’t change.”
One of the best ways to find out who you’ll be speaking to is to do research. Find out things like:
- What their knowledge level is – is it introductory, more intermediate or could they teach the webinar for you.
- Find out a little bit about their background – do they all come from one field of work, or is the group scattered about with different industries and business models.
- What about their passions outside of work – if you make a little joke or quip, it will fall flat if your audience has no idea what you’re talking about. However, if you’re using an example or a joking about something they know well or experience themselves, you should be golden.
- Or how about their language. Does the word “free” or “complimentary” speak to them more. Or do they prefer to hear you speak in technical terms that relate to the industry – or more layman’s terms.
Knowing your audience will help you tailor your webinar to them. And tailored webinar presentations are the ones that captivate your attendees.
Make your takeaways clear.
Having clear takeaways for your presentation will not only help guide you to creating a great webinar presentation experience for the attendees, but it will also help your audience understand what information is most important.
Making the most important information clear and easily understood assists the audience in knowing that they are taking away the right information. If you make your takeaways as difficult to find as a needle in a haystack, you’re bound to lose attention and probably even create frustration.
Keep it simple, silly.
At HubSpot Academy, we try to make every webinar start with what the goal for the attendees is – maybe it is to learn or to understand some type of topic. That way they’re not floating around wondering what they’re supposed to be getting out of this hour-long session.
Make it interactive.
Do you know how long the average attention span is? Me either, but after running tons of webinars, I can say that it’s not that long. And the attention span is especially worsen when the information is simply being relayed in a lecture format. While some presenters would love to place it on the attendees to remain attentive, it really should be us trying to solve for them and make it easy for them to listen and learn.
One of the best ways to keep someones attention is to make it interactive. This can be done a ton of different ways, but here are just a few:
- Using multiple different types of media like interspersing audio and video clips within the webinar.
- Ask questions that get the audience to think. These aren’t just any questions, but these are specifically designed to engage the audience and engage them in the right way. Are you trying to lead them down a knowledge path and you want them to come up to the conclusion on their own – questioning is a great way to do so. Questions are a also a great way to test assumptions. And they’re also especially great to simply get people’s gears going.
Our method of education is more than just lecture-based learning, but we like to use examples in conjunction with Socratic questioning to help people learn.
Oh and if you’re wondering when the perfect time to pause and interact with the audience is – I once read that it is on average at least every 8 minutes.
- Launch polls to test understanding, or assumptions around understanding. This ties to the functionality of the tool, but if you have the functionality, consider launching polls to test knowledge or assumptions around said knowledge. This can be a great way to reinforce that they’ve learned something new, or that they’re joining a webinar that they think they’re knowledgeable around, but might not be.
- Launch polls to survey the group. This is another piece of functionality, but if your software enables you to poll the group, this is a great way to gauge the audience and help others see what
- Use the software functionality available to you. This could be any of the methods mentioned above, but maybe you have additional functionality not mentioned – think about the ways you can use it to your advantage.
And lastly if you feel their attention slipping – try to have some type of way to bring them back to the webinar. With the Academy team, we have a whole set of “sound bytes” or phrases that we like to use that will help bring people’s focus back. If you’re running a lot of webinars, it’s important to find what works and document it so others can learn from it as well.
Want to learn more about audience attention spans? This article from Washington University can help break it down.
Be purposeful with your words.
Most webinars last an hour – and while that sounds like a lot – when you get into the meat of the conversation and you’re speaking, it’s really not. Unless, you don’t have much information to share, then it’s easy. But for us, we have a lot of information to cover – and that makes it even more important that each sentence, story, analogy and soundbite has a purpose.
One way to be purposeful with each word is to ensure that you’re following some type of story-telling or educational framework. You could use Simon Sinek’s “golden circle” theory, Nancy Duarte’s “where it is, where it could be” or any multitude types of educational frameworks available. Whatever it is that you decide to go with, make sure that you have the major points to get across and the stories, anecdotes, facts, statistics, analogies and whatever you use to support them – are purposeful.
Use a PowerPoint deck that enhances the webinar.
This can be tricky. You might be wondering – what’s the perfect of slides to use for a webinar, or how much text is too much text for a slide – well folks, this all depends on the purpose of your webinar.
You may notice that many inspirational keynote presentations rely heavily on the story and the ability of the storyteller/presenter to get the points across and the slides simply guide folks down this path with reinforced knowledge. Because of this, there is less text on the slide.
However, more educational and information-driven presentations can handle more text.
Whichever you decide to go with, make sure reinforces what you’re speaking to and that are no superfluous slides in there, just to be there.
And are you thinking about including photos? Make sure you follow the rule of thirds and other photography concepts to make the design pop. Design of the slides can be difficult, so check out this article to really drive home the point of the power of design.
“A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means” – William Hazlitt
Last, but not least is to speak on a topic in which you’re passionate. Passion is obvious, it’s contagious and passion is inspiring. Authentic passion causes your eyes to light up. Passion is what will keep you up all night to do your very best. And passion is what separate those who have to, with those that want to.
Speaking on a topic in which you’re passionate about is the number one way to ensure your webinar will be successful.