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September 24, 2010

Fatal Webinar Mistakes That Cost You Money

Webinars have become a low-cost way for people and companies to promote their products and services. I have certainly used them and attended many webinars on a variety of topics. However, I have noticed that many webinar organizers, hosts and panelists, create a variety of mistakes that reduce the effectiveness of their program.

1. Requiring too much information. I don’t mind giving my name, email address, and company name when registering for a webinar. However, I don’t like giving my address, telephone number, and five other details. I know that you want to collect data but the more information you ask for, the less likely I will register for your program.

2. Ask mandatory questions. Most technology allows the person hosting the webinar to ask registrants several questions when they register. However, making these questions mandatory can work against you, especially if the question is irrelevant. Many people will refuse to answer these questions and will chose NOT to register for the webinar. Carefully consider which questions should be mandatory.

3. Unfamiliar with the technology. A fatal mistake many people is to familiarize themselves with the webinar technology shortly before the program begins. I admit to include myself in this category. A few years ago I agreed to deliver a series of webinars for a client and unfortunately, my contact person was unfamiliar with the technology. As a result, we had several glitches and problems that reduced the overall effectiveness of the program.

4. Using a speaker phone. I recently attended a webinar and it appeared that one of the panelists spoke from a speaker phone or computer microphone. This created a vacant echo which became distracting whenever she spoke. It is critical that you have a good connection to the call and many companies suggest that you use a landline to ensure that you have a good connection with minimal interference.

5. Poor PowerPoint slides. Death by PowerPoint! My belief is that webinar slides should reinforce your key point, not make them. Too many people use too many bullet points or try to cram too much information on a single slide. Improve your effectiveness by creating a better PowerPoint show. Check out Slide Share for some great examples on how to create an effective presentation.

6. Taking too long to get into the program. I have attended countless webinars where the first five to seven minutes is absorbed by self-promotion, introduction of the presenter or guest expert, or information that was irrelevant to participants. Although sponsoring companies want adequate airtime, it is essential that you manage their expectations and keep the introduction brief and concise.

7. Too much promotion. Many of the webinars I have attended have been a thinly-disguised attempt at selling a product or service. I certainly understand the importance of generating sales but if your webinar is promoted or sold as an “educational” session and you spend most of your time talking about your product or company, I am going to quickly disengage.

8. Failure to deliver high-quality content. A webinar should deliver value for attendees. Unfortunately, too many programs give “here’s what you need to do” information without explaining how to actually apply the concepts. It is better to delve deep into a topic than offer three dozen ways to improve without providing substance.

9. Failure to deliver value. This ties in with the previous point. A successful webinar provides high value to the participants, regardless of the price point. Enough said.

10. The webinar is too long/short. The length of webinar is irrelevant. What’s important is the value that is delivered
during the program. You can’t stretch a short program into a long one and an intense, lengthy session cannot be condensed into a short webinar. Whether you are the host, organizer, or guest expert, make sure that you allot the appropriate amount of time for your particular program.

11. Not allowing questions. Many people who attend webinars have questions and they want to have the opportunity to ask them. Increase the value of your webinar by giving participants time to ask questions and allot time for these questions so that you don’t have to race through the last five of six minutes of your presentation.

Webinars can be an effective marketing vehicle and a great way to generate sales leads. Improve your results by avoiding these common webinar mistakes.

Get your FREE copy of 100 Ways to Increase Your Sales by subscribing to Kelley’s free newsletter, “59 Seconds to Sales Success” at .a href=””> Kelley Robertson conducts sales training programs and speaks on sales at conferences and meetings. Contact him at 905-633-7750 or