5 Common Webinar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

There are a lot of opportunities to make webinar mistakes during production. The wrong link gets shared to an audience, a power outage takes place, a speaker has to drop out for some unforeseen reason or — and this does happen — the host locks themselves out of their studio or office.

Whatever the reason, webinar mistakes happen. Knowing how to respond to them when they transpire is important. That’s why, last week, our own Chief Webinerd, Mark Bornstein, took to the studio to lay out 2019’s top 10 webinar mistakes and how to avoid them.

We’ve collected five of those common mistakes — in no particular order — for you to review. Let’s take a look now:

1. Repeating Yourself, Repeating Yourself, Repeating Yourself

Webinars need promoting and that means emails — a lot of emails. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations believe email copy is an exercise in repetition and will send you the same email several times while expecting a different result. Einstein had something to say about that.

Instead of sending the same email over and over again, vary its message and vary where the reader is in the sign-up cycle. For example, you can give a high-level overview of an upcoming webinar during your first email send and a personal message from your presenter for the second send. Your third and fourth emails should address audiences who are “on the fence” — those who’ve clicked through an email but haven’t registered yet — shortly before a webinar takes place.

2. Plain Consoles

It’s not the 1990s anymore, so basic grey backgrounds and dated-looking webinar consoles aren’t going to cut it. Plain webinar consoles are just that: dull looking, basic and about as interesting to interact with as a damp cloth. Change it up and make your consoles something your audience looks forward to.

Designing a good console isn’t as hard as it sounds. If your organization has brand guidelines (and it should) a simple solution would be to grab your brand logo, grab your brand colors and create a console based on those two elements. Another simple technique would be to grab any company imagery — so long as it’s not distracting — and use that as your webinar console. Whatever you do, just don’t make it boring.

3. Toxic Slides

Speaking of design. If you’re using slides during your webinar — and the vast majority of you are — make sure they, like your console, aren’t boring or toxic. What do we mean? Well, we mean slides that have too much text, slides that have fonts that are far too small and slides that more design elements in it than a reasonable person can process.

What’s the secret to detoxifying your webinar slides? Simple. Use fewer. In fact, the main element of any webinar should be the presenter and what they have to say — not the slides. If you use slides, they should be easy to read or contain a single image for the presenter to talk to. Remember: attendees want to hear what you have to say — not interpret your slides.

4. No Strategy for On-Demand Webinars

Okay, so you’ve run your webinar and you’re sharing your results with sales. It’s over now right? Wrong. Webinars don’t end after a live production. If anything, on-demand webinars are just as important element in your program as the live event.

With on-demand webinars you can broaden your audience (up to a third, according to the ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report 2019) and cement your company as a proactive thought leader. How? Well, you can build out a webinar series, organize on-demand events by topic and even use them to provide a continuing education course. Really, it’s up to you.

5. Panic

Tripping over a few words in front a crowd isn’t great. But not being able to recenter yourself and move on is worse.  You get a shot of adrenaline and things spiral out of control from there. Panic is a common mistake when it comes to presenting a webinar and, really, any type of public speaking. It’s so common it even has a name: cognitive tunneling.

Cognitive tunneling is a common phenomenon where our attention, as a speaker or presenter, is funneled away from where it should be and towards whatever our brain fixates on. As Charles Duhigg describes it in his 2016 book, “Better Faster Smarter: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity,” cognitive tunneling is “a mental glitch that sometimes occurs when our brains are forced to transition abruptly from relaxed automation to panicked attention.”

The key to avoiding a panic-induced breakdown is simple: recognizing it when it happens, taking a breath and moving on. But that’s not always easy to do. Don’t try to hide it if you find yourself in a moment of panic or get locked up during a presentation. Instead, address the issue and move on. Your audience will understand. After all, they’re human too.

We all make mistakes. Even experts. But being aware of the most common mistakes and how to combat them is crucial to running a program of any kind. If you’d like to learn more about the most common webinar mistakes in  2019, check out our Webinar Best Practices Series episode, “The 10 Common Webinar Mistakes in 2019…And How To Avoid Them.” And remember: relax and practice, practice, practice.