What Is A Webinar?

What is a Webinar? And how do webinars fit into this great big online marketing journey?

You may have heard that webinars are a great way to get new leads for your business. Make new sales. Conquer the world.

Great… if you only knew what the heck a webinar is. No one will step back to explain that to you.

Put simply, a webinar is an online presentation. It’s any corporate meeting, faculty meeting, briefing, whatever you want to call it – but presented online.

Oh wow! An online meeting! All the part-time online entrepreneurs who have a 9-5 job just left. Shuddering at the thought of coming home to ANOTHER meeting.

Wait!! It’s not like that!

Photo by Anders Abrahamsson / CC BY 2.0

What Is A Webinar For Marketing

When used in marketing, webinars are all about training. Teaching. Helping people learn something they actually want to learn.

And you can host or attend a webinar from home. In your pajamas if you choose.

When you use online webinar presentations as part of your marketing plan, your whole goal should be to teach. And to inspire.

And as part of your marketing, you’re doing this for free. You can use webinars as part of a paid training course (and I do). But when we’re talking marketing, you are delivering an extremely valuable and FREE training.

What’s In A Webinar?

Webinars are usually centered around a PowerPoint presentation (or Keynote for Macs). Nothing fancy.

All you need is a computer, a microphone, the presentation, and a webinar hosting service (oh and guests… that’s the tricky part).

The webinar hosting service you choose will share whatever you show on your computer screen and anything you say into your microphone, with all of your webinar guests.

Webinars are usually in real time, or with a few seconds of delay.

In recent years, webinar hosting services have been in a race to come up with the newest, shiniest new toys for webinars. But most of this is not necessary. Or even good for you, as the presenter.

The only component you need from your webinar service, besides screen and audio sharing, is a chat box. Some way the audience can communicate with you (and with the rest of the audience, in some cases).

That is a necessity. If guests cannot communicate with you, you might as well not be live (we call that a video, not a webinar).

Photo by ImagineCup / CC BY 2.0

Why Give A Webinar Away For Free?

You’re an expert in your field. You have tons of knowledge.

Why on earth would you teach it for free?

Because you are a good person. Or a good business person. Take your pick.

Most of us are a little bit of both. We like to help people, but we need to make enough money to buy groceries and pay rent too. And a yacht should circumstances permit.

Free webinars help to establish your expertise in the minds of your attendees. To show that you are a smarty pants.

And to initiate a value for value exchange. The law of reciprocity – you give others something, they feel a strong need to give you something back.

Your webinars will teach, and inspire. And then you tell the audience how you can teach and inspire them even more! With your special widget. Or training course. Or consulting. Or anything else you want to see.

Webinars are useful no matter what industry you are in. You help others, they help you. That’s what a webinar is all about.

Do you want to find out how webinars can help your business take off? Here’s Step #1 – Sign up for my FREE Download, 5 Must-Have Tools For Creating High Profit Webinars.

Episode 45 – Is Your Webinar Host Shiny Enough?

I recently read a great article from Ken Molay that centers around one answer, to one question, from the CMO at ON24. And it really illustrates what you need to be looking for in your webinar hosting.

In fact, this article tells you all you need to know about your actual webinar presentation. Basically, it is this – can you connect with your audience?

Ken writes The Webinar Blog, and you can read this article here.

ON24 is a webinar hosting service – and not one I recommend for you or me, since I don’t think they’re in our price range – that’s looking forward. To creating new problems for you, and solving them.

Remember my podcast on how to be a problem solver?

OK, so the deal is this. Ken Robinson from ON24 (there’s two Ken’s in this story, no Barbie… hang with me) basically says that his company’s biggest issue is that webinars are old technology. And they need to find a way to make it seem new. To solve a new problem.

I get that. Telephones were old technology. Someone had to make them new. 20 years (or much more) later, we’re walking around with an iPhone.

I don’t know where that takes Webinars, but it’s not coming up with a bunch of shiny add-ons. We need simple. We need “get out of my way so I can connect with my customers!” technology.

Alright well shiny add-on’s worked for iPhone. Bad example. Music would be a better example. Remember records? CDs? Now we have MP3s. No wrappers or special inserts. Just music.

So listen to Episode 45 and tell me what you think. Is your webinar host ‘too shiny’?

Check out this episode!

Episode 41 – How to Present From a Position of Power

Want to maximize your next webinar’s impact? You have to show people you know what you’re doing. 

That means confidence. Not overbearing confidence, of course. Just knowing that you are the right person to help the people in your audience. 

Here’s 5 tips for making sure your audience knows you are the Expert!

  1. Believe in your own product. Don’t sell it if it isn’t great.
  2. Rehearse your presentaion. Not to the point of being robotic, but make sure you aren’t reading off your slides.
  3. Meditate before the event on how much you will be helping people.
  4. Ask some questions and answer some questions from your audience before the presentation gets started, to get into a natural flow.
  5. Don’t look at the attendance. Present as if whoever’s there, is important. The number does not matter.

Want to launch your first webinar? Check out https://joedaniel.com/launch to sign up for my Live, Free Webinar that’s coming up!

Check out this episode!

Episode 29 – How Social Presence Increases Webinar Value

Laptop and BeerThe Online Education community is way ahead of us in webinar research. They don’t call it that… but the research is there.

And that doesn’t mean they’re better at it than the internet marketers out there. They just look at different metrics.

Like, we look at dollars and cents – they look at increased knowledge. Tests. GPAs.

To give a truly great Webinar, you need to educate your audience. Educate them like no one else can.

And you do not have the be the most knowledgeable, to be the best teacher.

In Episode 29 of the Webinational Webinar Podcast, I’m looking at research from the world of education into how we can improve the learning experience in our webinars.

It’s all about Social Presence Theory and creating a feeling of being there for your webinar attendees.

Plenty of actionable advice for you this week. Hope you enjoy it, and please leave your feedback in iTunes or email me at joe@joedaniel.com!

Show Links

Photo by Karl Baron

5 Tips for Creating Social Presence in Your Webinar

nicevirtualpresencedeviceA central idea in the study of online education versus in-person instruction has been the Social Presence Theory. Early studies often started with the bias that distance learning was inferior because it lacked the feeling of being there.

Learning is, after all, a social event. It’s not the 12th Century anymore. The educated classes are not the Monks who sit in a library all day.

Most studies on social presence and distance learning are being conducted in the education fields. I taught History and Math for 10 years, so I get into this stuff.

As for the business and marketing community, far fewer studies have been conducted – at least in the social presence field. Most of our studies tend to be focused on profits.

As in, make a profit – the attendees must have felt pretty good about the presentation.

But you aren’t out to just make a little jingle. You want to make a difference. A difference in people’s lives, a difference in your tribe.

To do that, you have to think of yourself as an educator, not a marketer. You need to understand a little bit about Social Presence Theory.

The short version is, the more people feel like they are actually with you in person instead of watching a webinar, and part of the group as a whole, the better they will learn. The more useful they see your webinar. And yes, the more they buy – at least, that seems logical.

How can you create that sense of being there? Here are 5 tips for creating a social presence for your attendees.

Have a Pre-Existing Relationship

I do use Facebook advertising to bring in new customers to my webinars. But you need to create a link with your webinar attendees.

Even if they come from an advertising stream, you need to reference webinar attendees to some more “getting to know you” materials before the webinar starts.

Those can be YouTube videos, your podcast, your articles… anything that clues them in on who you are.

Call Your Attendees by First Name

How does a teacher speak to his or her students? By first name.

Don’t answer a webinar attendee’s question by saying, “OK, we have a question from someone…”

Seems obvious, right? A lot of webinar hosts tend to just read through a list of questions, though. Don’t. Use each attendee’s first name. As often as possible.

Photo by Mitchell Joyce
Photo by Mitchell Joyce

Encourage Group Discussion

I’ve never been a fan of it… but the more I study, the more I change my thinking. Leave the chat box on.

I don’t like the idea of having some troll in my chat room while I’m doing a presentation, though. A moderator could really benefit you here. They can monitor the conversation as well as guide it (and keep up with who’s asking questions!)

This might be atypical of your live, in-person seminars. But a good live speaker will encourage some interaction among the audience.

Use Humor in Your Presentation

Do you tell jokes in person? Make sarcastic comments?

Why wouldn’t you do it in your webinars then?

Just because your presentation is pre-planned and educational, doesn’t mean you can’t have some humor in it. If the best you can do is open with a cheesy joke, then tell the cheesy joke.

Then acknowledge that the joke is cheesy, explain that you’re nervous and were afraid the presentation would be humorless… and move on.

Photo by Brandi Redd
Photo by Brandi Redd

Don’t Be Perfect

Human beings. Individuals. We make mistakes. Real people do.

You want to create a sense of being in the same room with someone as the give a live presentation. That means that mistakes happen.

I’ve taught thousands of hours of classes and never once, not in a single class, did I go through the whole period without something going wrong.

I’d trip over a cord and unplug the projector (at first, it was an overhead projector). Or I’d stumble on a story. Or call a student by the wrong name. Anything.

Everyone laughs, I laugh at myself, and we move on.

That’s what a real, live presentation looks like.

You can’t plan for those mistakes, but you can acknowledge them when you make them. You also don’t have to rehearse your next webinar ad nauseum to eliminate every stumble.

Remember that the purpose of your webinar is to educate, first. If you offer plenty of value to your attendees, they’ll purchase your products or services.

And since education is a social event now, you need to treat it as such. It’s a discussion, not  a lecture! Field questions from your audience, refer to them by name make everyone feel like they are part of the group.

When you do that, you’ll be creating a social presence in your webinars that is going to lead to better trainings and higher conversions!