We all face issues on a daily basis. Whether it's being late into the office as you missed the bus or it's getting to the shop checkout and finding your card doesn't work, they're all incredibly frustrating.
But importantly, all easily avoided with a little planning and foresight.
Webinars are no different. I've been running them for well over a decade now, and like to think I've seen (and made!) the majority of issues that can be made. If there's one thing I'm confident in saying, however, it's that each and every one of them can be easily avoided (or at the very least, quickly rectified) with the right information and understanding.
Showcasing this here, the below focuses on not just what the most common webinar issues are, but how exactly they can be avoided.
1. Practice makes perfect
Webinars offer a simple and effective way to communicate with clients, colleagues and prospects. And, as with all technology, it’s worth learning the basics of the webinar platform you're using to ensure you’re getting the most from it. This includes any PowerPoint slides you want to use, for instance.
It was philosopher Benjamin Franklin who said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and this holds especially true when you’re ready to go live on a webinar, only to find there’s a problem with your presentation.
All webinars require thorough research, planning and forethought. Once they’re underway, they can move fast, with participants covering a lot of information in a short space of time. It makes sense then to prepare (we recommend starting around two weeks in advance) and ensure you’ve edited, rehearsed and uploaded your PowerPoint slides well in advance.
One of the worst things any webinar attendee can experience is a presenter who appears to have made zero effort. They've taken the time out of their day to listen to what you're saying, and they're going to expect to be hearing from someone who appreciates that.
2. Dry runs are your friend
Communication is the key to getting most things in life done on time. Webinars really are no different.
If you plan to rehearse your webinar (and we do - strongly - suggest that you have at least a handful of run throughs before you go live), it’s worth making sure your co-presenters know what’s happening and when.
Try using a shared calendar and sending everyone an email the day before and then again an hour before your rehearsal begins. This way, the people you need to be present will be where you need them, when you need them, and able to offer you all the feedback you need beforehand.
3. Get everyone on the same page
“Testing, testing… 1-2, 1-2…”
Let’s face it. Blooper reels are hilarious. But it’s no fun to be kept waiting with a webinar at the ready because the presenters have failed to prepare.
We all know first impressions count and it’s true – especially in a business scenario – that you may never get a chance to make a second impression. All the more reason then to make sure each of your presenters have rehearsed their parts, know what the aim of the webinar is, and can work with you to deliver a smooth and engaging performance.
A perfect webinar comes as a result of a combined effort between everyone involved. One person within the presenting / delivery team can make the webinar a good one, but it takes everyone to be on the same page to make it a great one.
4. Trial and error
The latest webinar software is simple to use. You can be up and running in a matter of minutes.
But if you or your co-presenters feel nervous or are under stress, a sense of panic can take over. And it's when you're stressed that mistakes can happen.
Over the years, however, I've noticed that a lot of the stress isn't around actually presenting on the topic, but on the software you're using. You can talk all day about your favourite subject, but what if something goes wrong technically?
At WorkCast, we really do make our webinar software as easy to use as possible, but we still recommend you play through your webinar - or even a test webinar - several times, looking at the platform aspects and not just the content.
Rather than making assumptions that X, Y or Z will happen, trial it out - the worst case scenario is you'll come across something you didn't expect, which will help to expand your knowledge, and confidence, of running the webinar.
5. Hello, can you hear me?
Technology is wonderful - when it works. But what happens if your presenter dials into the call from their phone and the connection is poor? What happens if someone's internet connection keeps dropping out?
One of the secrets to a successful webinar is to remember that we’re all human. Problems happen. What's important is you don't ignore them.
When something happens that's causing a problem, taking the time to push out an audio or text message to explain to your audience what has happened will ensure everyone stays informed. It also means participants will stay engaged and remain in attendance until the problem can be rectified (which in most cases, should be in a matter of moments - a simple redial is often all it takes to achieve great sound quality, for instance).
6. Will we get along?
“Are you compatible?”
It sounds like a question from a dating site, but it’s a vital consideration when it comes to collating and curating the PowerPoint slides for your webinar.
We’ve all copied and pasted a document, only to be faced with a page filled with illegible hieroglyphics. Whilst that was regularly the case with webinars for years, it really shouldn't be today - the webinar platform you choose should be able to replicate your slides as you intended them to look and function, font and layout included, ultimately saving hours of time - and heartache - further down the line.
7. Look animated
The internet is a powerful tool, but in the past there were often times when one piece of software refused to ‘talk’ to another (and it unfortunately still happens today in some instances). As a result, it meant webinars were often just filled with static content. That's all you could use effectively.
The problem with this now is the most effective webinars are the ones that are animated in some way, shape or form. They're more attractive and engaging, helping to keep your attendees where you want them for the duration of the webinar.
Fortunately, it’s possible today to choose a webinar platform that supports PowerPoint slides, without compromising their quality. In a nutshell, this means you can use a vast array of different animation options to truly bring your presentation to life without any stress or fuss.
8. Lights, camera, action!
Just as animations used to be a cause of potential problems with webinars, video could be, shall we say, ‘temperamental’ once embedded into a PowerPoint presentation.
A real necessity today for the most successful webinars, you need to feel confident your embedded video will play as intended to your entire audience.
And the good news is the latest webinar platforms have the capability to handle video with ease, bringing your presentation to life without the fear of the blank screen - just make sure you really are using webinar software that genuinely can handle video!
9. The right support makes all the difference
The best webinar software helps to prevent formatting, animations and GIFs from going wrong. They show the content you want in the way you need. Think of it like turning a Word document into a PDF.
And running through your presentation, even to a test audience, can ensure everything is showing as it should.
But sometimes, technical issues outside of your control do happen. They may not be related to anything you've done, and may be easy to fix, but if they're spoiling the flow of your webinar, it's never a good thing.
As such, you need to be confident your webinar provider offers a level of technical support that will be beneficial. We're not talking about an email ticket-only system, but a telephone number or dedicated live chat. This way you’ll be able to get the expert advice you need, when you need it, ensuring your webinar is back up and running immediately.
10. Harness the power of on-demand
Webinars are ideal platforms for international communication, but like any internationally organised event, they can be subject to timing fails. This is especially true if your start time needs to change for any reason (and, for the UK, if the clocks have recently changed).
You can do as much as you can to inform your audience of the correct time (and any changes), but there'll always be people who miss the webinar, can't make it or simply forget about it.
It's for this reason why an on-demand version should form a key part of your entire webinar experience.
Having an on-demand version created as soon as possible after the live event gives everyone who missed it - for whatever reason - the chance to watch it in full. It reduces the stress on you to try and get everyone to the webinar at the right time else they'll miss it, and means all of your time and effort can be appreciated and experienced post-event.