The web conferencing experience for users has changed a lot in the past decade or so since the first 'webinar'. The original web conference involved the sharing of a presentation with a group of Internet-attached users solely through the use of their computer’s browser. In those days it was not a certainty that all users had enough bandwidth, had the right version of the browser that could support the playback processes or that they had a stable enough operating system and processor that could keep up with the visual changes. Freezing screens and exploding browsers seemed to occur at about the same frequency as advancing to the next chart.
Like the dialup Internet of days gone by, the 1.0 of web conferencing services were awkward, often unreliable and usually less than productive. But today, thankfully, it’s not like that at all.
One of the most popular classes of web conference is the 'event.' In the world of instant information gratification, content is king. So, marketers offer content through special web events. Target participants are invited to participate in a scheduled web conference and learn something new that improves their job in some way. In exchange for this free information, participants provide their contact details, which are used for subsequent sales qualification processes.
Having participated in hundreds of web conferences as keynote, as organizer, as moderator and as participant, here are 5 best practices in delivering excellent user experiences in web conferences as events. I've blogged about the top 10 on my site: http://www.brockmann.com.
1. Don’t Worry About Long Invitation Windows:
Many marketers make a big deal about giving folks lots of notice. The best response and attendance come from folks who have time tomorrow or 2 days from now, not the folks who have time next week. And, oh by the way, people will skip the webinar if they have conflicts, even small ones.
2. Say it in an Hour:
Even if you have technical difficulties that consume the first 15 minutes, cut out charts. Complete the meeting promptly.
3. Have a Moderator:
This role is to welcome everybody, introduce the speakers, monitor the time, manage the question period (if you have one) and thank everybody for participating.
4. Practice the Presentation:
Even if you’ve hired an industry analyst as your ‘celebrity draw’ have them present a practice session. You want to hear the story and see the materials ahead of time. That way you can be sure the content is appropriate and that it meets the goals of the session. Don’t feel compelled to accept what they propose to deliver, either.
5. Do it at Lunchtime:
Lunchtime on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are convenient for many people, but never on Mondays or Fridays.
Keeping these 5 Best Practices in mind as you prepare and deliver the event will work to assure an effective web conferencing experience.
Peter Brockmann is President of Brockmann and Company, a consulting and customer insight firm specializing in the communications products and services markets. Learn more at http://www.brockmann.com.