We recently hosted a webinar on creating and delivering an impactful presentation with the talented Mr. Rackley (Jerry Rackely, that is) from Demand Metric . His emphasis was going beyond your typical deck of slides to capture people's attention, keep it and make your point. Typically, a presentation is put together to inform or persuade and hopefully steer the listener towards a decision, right? Well, if this is in fact the case, then it's imperative that your supporting material and actual presentation skills are up to par. As Jerry put it, "A great presentation should inspire; a poor one will damage confidence in the ideas and the organization behind them."
So, we dove into three critical success factors for presenting a successful webinar – content, medium and delivery – and ways to optimize each of them. This will be a three part series, broken down by each component, along with some corresponding Q&A that was submitted during that portion of the presentation.
Part I – Content is only as good as your knowledge of the audience you're presenting to – who are they, what do they know, and will they care about what I have to say? Once you've answered those questions and begin to create the content do so with your message in mind – not just the medium you'll be delivering it through. This can put constraints around your message. Don't limit your topic because of a particular means of communication. Since most of us doing webinars are probably using PowerPoint to do so, let's pause here for a moment to reiterate a best practices (most of which you're probably aware, but it never hurts): Watch your message density – more is not always better. One message per slide. Think of it as a billboard that you drive by on the interstate – you can only decipher so much at once.
Audience question – "You've talked about minimizing the message and even your deck to 10 slides or less, 20 minutes etc., but what about business proposals where there is a LOT of content that needs to presented i.e.: business model, partnership details, financials, product offering, and so on. In those cases we usually present to executives who are looking to make a decision based on the presentation."
Jerry's answer – "In my experience, what generally isn't helpful is a presentation that covers the entire business proposal. When I have done this, I've had a presentation that is what I'd consider an Executive Summary of the proposal. I would take each section, such as Business Model, and have one, perhaps two slides that share the conclusion I need the executive to understand. The same is true for each section.
What I think you need for a presentation like this is not a strategy that says "We're going to try to condense the whole proposal into 10 slides," but instead, lead the executive down a path of asking you to right questions, and drawing the conclusions you want him or her to draw. You understand that the presentation leaves some detail out – and this is by design. But you've left material out in a strategic way. And of course, you always reference that the complete set of detail is in the proposal, and encourage them to read it.
Audience question – "How do you balance education vs. sales in a webinar presentation? The webinars we put on are very educational but, at the end of the day, we are looking to at least get demos of our own product if not subscription signups."
Jerry's answer – "What I recommend is looking at all your content – webinars included – to see how it maps to the sales cycle for your solution. Earlier in the sales cycle, you'll want informative, educational content that isn't hard selling. Later in the sales cycle, you'll need content that works differently. I think you have to understand how prospects move through your sales cycle and what their informational needs are in each stage. Then, create or refine your content to help push them through the cycle faster.
Check back tomorrow as we address the next critical factor in a successful webinar presentation – the medium.