A $0 Hack For Maximizing Your $10,000 Webinar

Mahesh Bellie

Published: March 12, 2024

One of the key factors of a successful technical webinar is the presenter’s ability to retain the audience until the end, when the actual selling takes place. After all, an uninterested audience who does not stay is just as ineffective as someone who hasn’t signed up at all.  

And the easiest way to accomplish this feat? As a business storytelling coach, my recommendation is to direct the webinar like a movie.

The Sob Story Of Today’s Webinar

Today, I see a lot of webinars following the same structure of time-wasting tactics. Let’s take a look at this through the lens of a movie. If webinars were considered as movies, presenters as movie directors, and the organizations as the production company, then here’s how audiences today might experience it.

First, we start with the pleasantries. The audience is thanked for choosing to watch the movie. Viewers are told no questions will be entertained in between, but they can use the chat feature. Next, the director is introduced to the audience. Viewers learn about the director’s experience, awards, favorite genre and perspectives on the movie subject.

Can we see the movie now? the audience might ask themselves. Not yet!

Then, the production company is introduced, highlighting their years in business, awards, the roster of studios they operate across different locations, the number of artists working there, the movies they have produced so far, their mission, and their partnerships with other studios and agencies, among others. Typically, by this time, half the audience usually leaves, paving the way for the rest to exit.

Can we see the movie at least now? the audience thinks. Not yet!

Now we delve into the details of the movie—the premise of the story, the setting, the key characters and their intentions, among other things. And finally, when it’s actually time to show the movie, what follows is a poorly directed presentation filled with overwhelming data, some of it incoherent, followed by a lot of diversions, and ends with a rather arbitrary sales pitch.

The Game Of ROI

Organizations often focus on attracting webinar attendees but neglect the importance of keeping them engaged until the end. The webinar audience, who generally are scouting for solutions (and less likely to be immediate buyers), will quickly drop off if the presentation turns out to be boring.

It is even more detrimental when they host it on paid platforms, where the cost per lead can be upwards of $100. If the initial 100 participants leave, a significant investment goes to waste.

Misleadingly, webinar sign-ups are often presented to the sponsor as potential leads. But when they don’t respond to follow-ups, marketing blames the solution, tech teams blame marketing, sales teams blame the leads, and the sponsor deems the webinar a bad investment. However, this cycle can be broken.

In Action, We Trust

Like an action movie that is engaging until the end, narrative techniques can be applied to technical solutions webinars as well. Here’s how we do it:

Skip the ‘previews.’

Include a muted mic icon on the title slide to communicate no talking, along with other important details. Utilize the chat box to inform the audience that it is available for asking questions.

The ‘director’s’ accolades can wait.

Display the speaker(s) photo, name and designation on an introductory slide instead of lengthy introductions. For multiple speakers, if necessary, include their names at the bottom of the respective slides they present. It’s important to remember that the presenter is not the hero; the solution is!

Remind viewers that company details are available online.

Skip the “About Us” slides since interested individuals can find the information online. If necessary, incorporate specific technical credentials within the solution narrative.

Show the problem that is brewing.

Skip the agenda. Establish the context (the “what”) in the first minute by introducing the problem you aim to solve. The clearer the problem statement, the better the understanding of the need.

Set the stakes.

Illustrate the potential losses facing the audience if the problem remains unresolved (the “why”). The higher the stakes, the more relevant your solution, increasing the likelihood of an eventual inquiry. The audience is now invited on the mission if they choose to accept it.

Outline your approach.

Outline the high-level approach to your solution (the “how”)—the number of phases, steps or stages it takes to get from their problem (Point A) to your solution (Point B). The audience by now should get a feel of the floor plan and challenges on the path to the vault.

Get into the action.

Since the solution process is already explained, the audience can now join you as you gradually unveil the details of your technical solution, step by step. In most business webinars, the suspense is in the how and not the why.

List the key mistakes in the path.

New ideas run their course of mistakes, so share the valuable ones. Make the challenge interesting.

Show that you are an ‘A-team.’

Show how your solution can achieve the mission better than others in terms of cost, time, efficiency or agility.

Invite the audience to try it for themselves.

For the audience who would be interested to explore, let them know how to get started. Free trials, consultations and workshops are some of the best options.

A View From The Red Carpet

A few years ago, I hosted a webinar on digital marketing adoption with an audience of 189 Gen Z individuals. Despite being an extremely process- oriented topic, only a handful of participants dropped out by the end of the webinar.

I presented the journey of a hypothetical startup struggling with digital marketing adoption and how they solved the challenge in each phase. This narrative not only set the right context but also kept the audience captivated throughout the session.

The fundamental aspect then is to identify the key message you want your audience to remember, present it and consistently support your reasoning with factual evidence, like a skilled lawyer delivering an opening statement to a jury.

Now, that’s a movie your audience will root for!

The article was originally published by the author on Forbes.