I wonder how much water you would add to a glass of wine before you couldn’t taste the wine anymore. I expect that if you have a big, bold red wine it would take more water than if you have a lighter white wine.
This analogy can be applied to webinars and presentations. In my opinion, webinars are watered down versions of presentations. Many of the important nuances of human communication are missing in a webinar, like body language, facial expression, the interactions between audience members and even the discussions at the coffee break. The presenter cannot gauge the audience’s response, nor can the audience fully “hear” the enthusiasm of the presenter without seeing them. Video webinars may be an improvement but my experience thus far is limited.
So why do they exist? Is their role to enhance communication or save money? I think they exist primarily to save money and to add convenience (save time). Saving money and time are good things for all of us, but it is almost impossible for a webinar to have the same impact as a live presentation. Research indicates that an audience only remembers 1 to 3 things from a live presentation; what happens when you water it down? Studies have shown that during webinars people do email, work on other projects or talk on the phone as they “participate”. I certainly have even been guilty of that! It is unlikely that most webinar presenters even have a chance at getting the audience’s full attention.
In addition to distractions, webinars can have issues like technical glitches, poor phone lines or slow internet connections. The most recent webinar that I “attended” had a new issue – the speaker had to talk over the music that was playing when one of the participants put us on hold.
Webinars are less than ideal for the sharing/transfer of information, but for topics which are persuasive like sales presentations and selling important ideas, they are even more challenging. If you are planning one, ask yourself if it is really necessary: could a written report be used instead, or is the topic important enough for a live presentation? If you do decide to have a webinar (sometimes it is a necessary evil) make sure your presentation is well designed and rehearsed (a big bold red wine).
What do you think about webinars?
Refuse to be boring.