Brands typically underestimate the skills and effort needed to successfully produce webinars

From cosy roundtables to fully fledged summits, CP5 has achieved much success at producing events for clients and creating content off the back of them. So when the ongoing pandemic hit hard in March, the company felt it.

Fortunately, CP5’s webinar business has since thrived.

Migrating from the physical to the virtual has been immensely challenging for many organisations, not just for brands, but for seasoned events companies as well. Few have made the transition smoothly.

CP5 has been involved in more than 20 webinars since March — some have been impressive, yet many have been lacking in one way or another. In our experience, here are the most common errors and misunderstandings that brands make when staging webinars.

No goal

The least successful webinars have no core purpose. In most of these cases, brand executives have heard about a webinar staged by a competitor or partner, and immediately want to enter the space. Typically, marketing and the sponsoring business unit haven’t established what they are trying to achieve from the webinar.

Is it branding, thought leadership or lead generation? Commonly marketing and business executives want all three. But attempting to achieve this is near-impossible. Our view is to choose one of these goals and structure your webinar accordingly.

No core narrative

Engaging content is is exactly that: engaging content. It doesn’t matter whether it is copy, infographics, video or virtual events, it is imperative that there is a key takeaway supported by sub-themes. All too often, webinars feature a string of presentations followed by a panel, where speakers typically repeat and contradict one another. Attendees are left confused and disappointed.

Granted, it’s OK to have different opinions, but there should still be a central story that attendees can take in and remember.

Taxing technology

With webinars as popular as they now are, a number of opportunistic platform vendors are selling highly sophisticated solutions that can deliver video feeds in ultra-high definition (UHD). Except the vast majority of computers are not able to facilitate UHD.

Most tablets, laptops and desktops — including high-end devices made by the likes of Apple, HP, Lenovo and Dell — can only comfortably stream inbound and outbound at a speed of 2.5 megabits per second (Mbps) with limited interruption. However, there remains a number of software vendors that sell the dream of UHD webinars streamed at speeds of anywhere between 5 Mbps and 15 Mbps, but fail to tell customers that not only will most attendees not be able to participate in their webinars, but also that hosts will be severely challenged by these speeds.

Sub-standard production

Last week, CP5 was involved in two webinars. One featured a speaker located in what looked like their son’s bedroom, while the other was produced in Sky Studios, London. While the speaker of the former was by far more experienced and more natural in front of the camera, substandard production was a major distraction for viewers, as widely articulated in the post-webinar feedback.

Admittedly, not all brands will have the budget or technology to produce studio webinars, but do consider that irrespective of how good speakers are, they must be backed up by sound production and a professional backdrop. Rather than use a bedroom, use a study or lounge, for example.

Too many slides

Visualisations and bullet points are great, and help viewers understand what speakers are explaining. Except when there is a never-ending slew of slides on show. This can be distracting and often results in viewers exiting the webinar.

Less is more in most instances. Choose the visualisations, text and other proof points that you want to support your story very carefully. And remember that the more slides that you show, the greater the likelihood of people dropping out of the session.

Ill-prepared speakers

With the attention of viewers firmly fixed on speakers, the pressure is on to deliver. Except many speakers don’t treat webinars with the same seriousness as they would a conference or roundtable.

Speakers must articulate clearly, not ramble, and use language and phrases that are polite, accurate and professional. Do a sound check, and even practice in advance. Don’t be too quiet, but don’t shout at the camera either. Preparation is key.