Contextual Interviewing, Elements of Value and Product Features

Previously, Beth introduced you to the Value Innovations process. She focused on ReadyTalk’s recent project to conduct what Richard Lee calls Contextual Interviews with some of our most important customers. This step in the process is very important as it is where the rubber meets the road—where we test our assumptions about what is valuable to our customers.

The Contextual Interview process has some simple rules. One rule is to prepare 8-10 high-level questions. The prototype question for the first interview is “What about your role as X keeps you up at night?” A second and equally important rule is to design the conversation so that ReadyTalk does a lot more listening than talking.

The Value Innovations team recommends some of the best practices for this design. Do your homework and carefully identify the role of that is most important to ReadyTalk value chain. Interview people in this identified role in pairs so that they don’t feel “on the hot-seat” during the entire interview. Also, they will be able to play off of each other’s ideas.

And design the questions centered on the most important customer’s role in their organization, how they contribute value, what worries them, and what embarrasses them, while keeping them at a high level, open.

One catch for our team in this process has been to think we should be talking about the customer’s experience with ReadyTalk’s product. But with Value Innovations, the focus is on value, not product behavior or features (the Product Marketing and Product Management teams do a lot of this in other ways). Instead, it is important to start the Contextual Interviewing process around the customer’s work, their role and how they contribute value to their organization. If nothing is related to ReadyTalk’s mission or product ever comes up, maybe you aren’t talking to your most important customer?

So the first lesson we had to learn was that the Value Innovations Contextual Interviewing process isn’t about getting our customers to talk about better features. It is about getting them to talk about where we might provide the most value.

As we get that right, translating to features and knowing where to invest development time and money gets a lot easier.

Skippy has worked on software product strategies and big data analysis problems at startups and public companies in the Denver area. He loves Barry Manilow, holding hands and long walks on the beach.

ReadyTalk’s new partner program

ReadyTalk is always showing our customers new ways to use our web conferencing services. Whether you are trying out teleworking, collaborating with colleagues worldwide, or hosting your own lead generation webinar series, ReadyTalk assists you with your business every day. Now ReadyTalk expands their reach with a new Partners Program.

Partners come in all shapes and sizes and we chose to develop a program that offers flexibility and suits a variety of business models. Our first recruitment push is for resellers at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, March 13 – 15. If you’re interested in adding audio and web conferencing and web events to your product offering – stop by booth 1135 and talk to Betsy, Dwight or Tracy about how ReadyTalk can help increase revenues from your existing customer base and help you gain new customers with these services. Our programs offer a full complement of sales and marketing resources and out of this world customer support. Can’t make Vegas? Check us out at

Using webinars to generate revenue

As web conferencing technology becomes more sophisticated and companies become more adept at delivering high value content, a new trend has emerged in hosted webinars. Companies are now asking the questions “Why can’t we charge for this information?” — after all, the hosting companies frequently pay for expert speakers, spend a lot of time on production value and promotion.

Working for a web conferencing company, I see daily the amount of effort and time it takes for us to host our webinar series. Booking speakers, building registration pages, dry runs, practice sessions, content building are only some of the tasks involved.

Admittedly, this is a paradigm shift in the industry where free webinars are the norm. The jump into paid webinars should be a well thought out move taking into account your audience and the value you are offering.

On March 30, we are having a webinar entitled Turn Your Webinars into a Revenue Generator. The webinar is at no charge and will feature 2 speakers who currently charge for their webinars and are very successful. They will tell you how they do it, the lessons they learned and what it takes to be successful.

Join us on March 30 at 2pm EST for this complimentary event.

As the senior demand generation manager at ReadyTalk, Mike helps manage and execute ReadyTalk’s demand generation programs, which include email, online advertising, telemarketing and tradeshows. He also oversees ReadyTalk’s lead management process and marketing funnel by using Eloqua and to automate ReadyTalk’s nurturing programs and lead follow-up.

Best Practices for Polling Questions

Today’s post is the second in Anthony’s series on polling. Check out the previous post.

polling during a webinar or web conferenceDuring a webinar, polls are an easy way to learn more about your audience and their experience level, to check whether they can recall important information you have presented, or to gather feedback on the efficacy of your presentation. As you formulate standard poll questions, refer to the guidelines below to build effective polls.

Be sure to start with your goal in mind. If you plan to ask a lot of questions – before you start writing them – remember you are asking your audience to do some work. One thing to note is that you should request as little as possible of the attendees so the response rate stays high. Be clear about the goals you have for gathering the information (qualitative or quantitative) and what you will do with this information once you have it. The answers you obtain are only as reliable as the clarity and simplicity of the questions you pose.

Now you are ready to start writing your questions. Below is a list of general poll-writing suggestions as well as some specific to using the ReadyTalk tool.














  1. Keep your poll questions simple.
    Interpretation is a key concept to keep in mind, so the simpler the question the better the chance that everyone in your audience will be on the same page when they answer.
  2. Avoid combined questions; display one question at a time.
    Make sure your questions do not have multiple answer options. If your question uses the words ‘and’ or ‘or’ chances are you have a combined question with more than one possible answer. In these situations you should create two separate questions. An example of a combined question would be The use of color in the document is a nice touch, and the information is easy to understand. In this question a participant might agree with one part of the question but not the other. This should be split into two questions or rewritten so it truly asks only one question.
  3. Add ‘Does Not Apply’ as an answer option.
    Many times a participant may not have experience with or can relate to the question being asked. By adding ‘Does Not Apply’ as an answer option allows all participants to continue to interact, and it provides you with further insight into your audience and their level of knowledge or experience.
  4. Write polling questions that will benefit the participants’ experience.
    To make polling questions effective at stimulating participation and interactivity, they must be presented in terms of your participants’ self interests. If your polls tend to be demographic or self-serving for you as a presenter, participants may feel they are being treated as experimental subjects providing you with value but getting none themselves. You should be able to accompany every poll with a statement of “By answering this question, you will benefit in the following way…” Possibilities include knowing more about how they compare to the community of their peers, getting you to focus your remarks on areas of greatest importance to them, getting you to talk to their level of expertise and prior knowledge, or helping to determine what webinar topics you should present in the future.
  5. In advance, determine how many polling questions are appropriate.
    If your presentation is going to last for at least one hour, you should plan on incorporating at least 3 polling questions, and space them out so they are approximately 5 – 10 minutes apart. Also, while participants are responding to each poll question, be sure to continue your presentation or have some comments ready. Do not allow for “dead air” time while you are waiting for the results. This will create an awkward situation for both you and the participants.
  6. Instruct participants where and how to enter answers.
    In the event you are a regular ReadyTalk customer and have participants that attend many of your webinars, you may want to take a moment to let participants know how to interact with the polling feature. You can either insert a slide to display during the introduction or make a verbal statement prior to starting the polling question. Let the participants know they will actually click on the radio button next to the answer they want to select. They should NOT write their response into the chat box.
  7. Note that the speaker view of a polling question may be different from the participant view.
    If your polling question is particularly long, as a speaker, it will appear that some of the words are cut off or missing. If you hover your mouse over the question the entire question will show for a moment; however, participants will see the entire question on their screen. This is due to the fact that there are other boxes in the speaker view (participants, chat, audio) that take up some of the screen. Speakers are encouraged to have copies of the polling questions available to read from if necessary.
  8. Participants MUST answer a polling question in order to see the results.
    As you know, ‘Skip to Results’ is an option you can select to show the participants the poll results as they come in. It is a great way to show the interaction of the audience. However, if a participant chooses not to answer the question they will not see the results. This was designed to drive participation from everyone, so you are encouraged to let your participants know they must answer if they want to see the results!
  9. Polling questions cannot be edited or deleted during a live event.
    If you need to edit or delete a polling question be sure you have not clicked the green ‘Start Meeting’ button. Once a meeting is started you cannot make any changes to your questions.
  10. You don’t have to reveal your audience size when discussing poll results.
    You have the option to show poll results as percentage figures rather than absolute numbers. For example, your audience doesn’t have to know that the 25% response rate on answer #1 only represents 2 people! If you are hiding the fact that you have a smaller than desired attendance, just talk to the percentages in the same way you would if there were more people participating.


Are there other tips you would add to the list? Share in the comments section below.

As an event manager, Anthony works with clients on all aspects of their audio and web conferencing needs. Prior to working at ReadyTalk, he was a ReadyTalk customer, so he brings a great understanding of developing and running webinar programs. He enjoys spending time with his family and two dogs, watching movies, reading and exploring Denver’s top restaurants.

NEW: ReadyTalk Administration Center

Manage your ReadyTalk Account with Confidence

Today marks the arrival of the ReadyTalk Administration Center, which will enable you to manage your ReadyTalk audio and web conferencing account with greater control. No longer will you have to send new user and access code requests through our support and account management team (unless you want to). The ReadyTalk Administration Center will give you the ability to:

  • Add new users and access codes to your ReadyTalk account
  • Create additional access codes for existing users
  • Download detailed user information in .csv format
  • Chat live with a ReadyTalk Representative


The ReadyTalk Administration Center saves you time and hassle and gives you the tools you need to control your account with confidence. To access to the ReadyTalk Administration Center for your Account call your ReadyTalk Account Manager at 800.843.9166.

Paul was formerly an Account Executive at ReadyTalk gaining valuable experience with competitors and the state of the web and audio conferencing industry. Currently in his role as Product Marketing Manager, he is in charge of the competitive landscape, on-demand audio products, and the web meeting interface. Paul loves the outdoors, his pup Huck, his wife Jess, and getting to the ski slopes as much as possible.