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There’s a certain mix of intrigue and hesitation in the minutes between my calendar notification reminding me that I signed up for a webinar with a catchy title and it actually starting. Is this going to be a total waste of my time like the last 5 webinars I attempted to push through? I wonder what kind of technical issues I will learn about the screen sharing software we’re using today? Wait, what is this about again? Who sent me the link to this?

 

I don’t approach webinars with a positive attitude because I have walked away from too many feeling like an hour of my life had been stolen. Let’s talk about why webinars [usually] suck:

  1. Technical issues – All kinds of things can go wrong with the technology during a presentation but bad audio is at the top of my list of reasons to leave a webinar prematurely. I’m not sure which is worse, choppy audio or no audio at all? On one hand, when the audio completely disappears the decision to leave the webinar is an easy one, but when you face irregular audio that cuts in and out the decision becomes slightly more difficult. Can you still understand what the presenter wants you to know even though you miss every third word? Do you have enough will power to survive that kind of experience? Don’t forget will power is an exhaustible resource, and if it’s been more than two hours since my last cup of coffee I’m running low.

 

  1. Content – I want to learn something new, I want to walk away from a webinar feeling slightly more knowledgeable, no more so than reading an informative blog post. All too often I find myself questioning the credibility of the presenter because of the information they are pitching. I can’t remember the last webinar that didn’t simply regurgitate well known industry concepts that did little more than remind me of things I once knew and lost along the way. I wish there was an indication of the level of material being covered just as Lego has done for many years (Ages 8+). Sure, it’s a bad idea to target the material to a specific set of people because you will likely lower the number of attendees, but is that the best way to measure success? I think not.

 

  1. Presenters – I know it’s not easy to talk about material that might not be sexy to an audience that you can’t see or receive any real-time feedback from but please stop reading your slides! Please stop writing your entire presentation on your deck to begin with. Public speaking is a skill that comes with practice, and it’s obvious to sit through a presentation where there was little to no practice involved. There’s a reason you practiced kissing your hand when you were young, you wanted to make sure that you didn’t suck at it when other people were involved.

 

  1. Q&A – I enjoy the Q&A portion of most webinars (unless people ask stupid questions, and there are lots of stupid questions to be asked). Dialogue drives insight and people asking questions makes me think harder about other questions I want answered. But I don’t want to wait 45 minutes until the end of the presentation to start asking questions, I’m not a good attendee, I don’t write my questions down and patiently wait, I have an aha moment and quickly lose my train of thought as we move through another series of 3-D p
    ie charts.

 

I love to hate webinars, they’re an easy target. My time could be better spent reading a blog or watching internet cats, but there’s a small part of me that feels like the next webinar will be worth it, it’s going to change the way I feel and that’s why I should join the presentation… or because my boss sent me the link.

Nyle Feist
Senior User Researcher
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