Webcasting Sidebar 1
Answers to Common Questions About Webcasts
How Long Should a Webcast Be?
Linsenbach: “This is tricky. An hour is usually a good length of time; although, depending on the topic, I’ve seen some webinars stretch to an hour and a half, or even two hours. Most times, the audience will stick around as long as they are engaged and actively participating, which is why we do our best to include a lively Q&A session with panelists and interactive audience polling.”
Sharan: “The average ideal webcast is 30 to 40 minutes of programming with speakers, followed by 15 minutes for audience Q&A. Assuming the content is compelling and the audience is hearing what they registered for, they will stay. A webcast is a program, and we should think of it as a form of TV—the best TV shows are interesting, well-written, and keep us coming back. Webcasts are no different.”
Paid vs. Unpaid Attendance?
Kamikow: “We never charge. Charging cuts down audience attendance drastically. We happen to think that anyone spending 60 to 90 minutes for a webinar is a highly qualified buyer.”
Pulizzi: “We do both, although most of our models are unpaid.”
Linsenbach: “I’d say that either could work depending on the audience and the goal the publishing company is trying to achieve. People who might otherwise balk at attending a webinar might do so simply because it’s free; but attendees of a free webinar might not be as willing to pay for more information or purchase a vendor’s products or services. … People … would most likely [pay to attend] if the content was more focused and targeted specifically at their industry or at a particular issue they’re facing.”
Rist: “Publishers just shouldn’t mix a sponsored event with a paid event since the expectation from attendees is that their name won’t be given to anyone if they are paying to attend. Where I see publishers fail is when they decide to charge for webinars to offset costs. It doesn’t work.”
Obstacles to Expect?
Kamikow: “Our greatest stumbling block was and is convincing speakers they need to go through training and rehearsal.
A classic case was the speaker in our first event. He said he’d done countless webinars and did not need training. The event started, he closed the door to his conference room, locked it, put on a headset and proceeded to give his presentation without realizing he had to push the control key. We had dead air for about five minutes while his assistant was pounding on his door unable to get his attention. It was almost a nightmare.”
Pulizzi: “Two areas publishers might have issues with are the tech provider and project management. They need a good manager to ensure all participants are trained, calm and on time. While outsourcing might ensure you get the best technology, it helps to have an in-house manager—someone who likes to tinker with technology, has innate sales skills and likes to talk with people.”