In these tight economic times, people are often looking for leadership. The organizations that can get ahead of the issues, and let people know what they should be doing in order to achieve success (both personally and professionally), are ones that are more likely to succeed. A quick, fast and inexpensive way to show thought leadership is to offer a 30 minute educational Web seminar on a topic facing your industry.
It might be a new trend, such as the rise in people visiting websites from mobile devices, and what people can do to make sure their site visitors aren’t left behind. It could be an introduction course, such as Search Engine Optimization 101 or Email Marketing 101 basics, to get people who don’t know much about a topic to learn more.
1. Limit it to 30 minutes. People have very short attention spans. Anything longer, and people won’t be likely to sign up. But most people can spare 30 minutes out of the day, especially if it can help their career.
2. Make it a Web seminar vs. an in-person seminar. Again, people have limited time. Even more so when they’re trying to do the work of three people in a jam-packed workday. If people have to leave work, travel, find a place to park, etc, they aren’t likely to attend. If it’s something they can do from their desk, they can always rationalize that they can multi-task (It will be your job to keep them riveted and paying close attention).
3. Make the sign up process quick, fast and easy. Limit the signup information to their first name, last name, email and phone. You’ll know their company information if they sign up with a corporate email address, and their phone number’s area code will give you geographic information (Try searching on the area code in Google if you don’t recognize where a person is from).
4. Send a confirmation email, letting them know that they have registered. Many people use their inbox as a filing system, and will keep the login information handy. Or, they’ll use that as a way to add this to their calendar.
5. Send at least two reminder emails. One reminder should be 24 hours before, to let them know that the seminar is tomorrow. Then, send another reminder one hour before, so that they’ll have the login information handy.
6. Be prepared that 50% of the people that register won’t log in. As compelling as your seminar may be, their job comes first. So if something comes up at work (i.e. their boss ropes them into a meeting), people will likely defer and not attend. (Don’t take this personally.) It’s always best to provide a video recording of the webinar to everyone who registered after you complete the seminar.
7. Let your fingers do the walking. We recommend using a conference line system, where everyone dials into a phone number from their telephone, and may have to enter in a conference ID. There are many low cost options available, and if you opt to not use a toll-free number (where you have to pay a per-minute charge for each person), you can keep costs to a minimum.
8. Use Powerpoint or create a web presentation. If you have a presentation with PowerPoint slides, you can also have people log into a system where you can control what slides people see. Again, there are many low cost options available. But you can also just email the presentation to people, post the presentation online for people to download, or even save your PowerPoint slides as a Web presentation, and ask people to follow along. This will further save money and keep your costs down.
9. Make sure that your presentation is something people “Need” to know. Not something that’s “Nice” to know. If your topic will somehow make their life better, faster, cheaper, easier, help them avoid pain and embarrassment, you’re on the right path.
10. Start on time, and end five minutes early. If you start the presentation late, you’re rewarding the people who come late, and penalizing the people who show up on time. Have people visit www.time.gov (one of my favorite sites). End five minutes before the thirty minutes are up, and open it up for questions. If nobody asks a question, you can often have a simple question and answer prepared to prime people to ask additional questions (some people don’t want to look like they don’t know all of the answers). If you get a lot of additional questions, let people know at the 30 minute mark that they can drop off, but you’ll stay on the line to answer additional questions.