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How can a pre-recorded webinar be more powerful than a live presentation? Conventional wisdom says that viewers expect a webinar to be presented live. But pre-recorded, on-demand webinars offer several advantages over live programs.

People who can’t attend a scheduled online presentation can still view an on-demand version which is available 24 x 7. Offering an on-demand version therefore extends the audience. It not only reaches local people whose schedules don’t fit, but expands listenership across time zones. It even offers presenters the opportunity to be viewed globally.

On-Demand Webinar

On-demand webinars can also be embedded into a presenter’s website, so that they draw web traffic, and potentially create new sales leads. When viewed from a web page they can be surrounded onscreen with purchase links or additional offers.

Many audience members prefer on-demand versions. Pre-recorded programs enable viewers to control the presentation. They can start and stop as needed, and in many cases instantly back-space and repeat slides. And they can usually enjoy a program that wastes no time and has been optimized for quality.

Presenters who offer on-demand programs however, must create a presentation that’s different from record-and-playback of a live webinar. Viewers who know that presentations have been pre-recorded expect to hear highly professional programs. The quality level of a live webinar conference call or conferencing by VoIP (voice-over internet) is seldom good enough to maintain program credibility. When presenters offer live webinars, their programs typically include long pauses, mispronunciations, conversational fillers, and self-corrections. These are acceptable to viewers of live webinars since they are common in adlibbed conversation. Viewers of on-demand presentations however, expect them to be more deliberately paced, error-free, and less casual.

Presenters of on-demand presentations therefore, must prepare a version offline. Many record directly into PowerPoint. Others create small audio files and embed them into their slides. This process of course permits presenters to work from a script, listen to the results, and re-take any recording that doesn’t sound quite right.

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One of the greatest challenges for webinar presenters is maintaining attention of viewers that we can’t see. One great way to keep the eyes of all viewers onscreen is to create movement.

Viewers quickly tire of static images, and soon stop looking at a webinar screen until the slide changes. Presenters who stay on a single slide for more than a minute typically lose effectiveness. Attendees mentally tune out.

One good solution to this problem is to limit the screen time of any slide to 30 seconds or less. However, presenters may need more time to communicate their messages. The best tools then are onscreen animations.

The array pictured above for example, demonstrates how a single animated slide progresses onscreen. As the presenter speaks, animations advance to emphasize the next point in the slide’s overall message. The presenter controls them, ensuring that animations are timed to each point being made.

PowerPoint and other presentation graphics programs offer a rich array of animation features that can be used in many different ways. They can make photos, graphics or text appear or disappear, whenever appropriate. New items can fade in or fly in using a myriad of visual styles. Or items can morph into new forms.

Though animations can serve multiple purposes, their greatest value in webinars is to keep every viewer’s eyes on the screen, thereby keeping their attention. When they are used in pre-recorded on-demand webinars, animations can be perfectly timed to support a fast-paced narration. If accompanied by fast slide transitions, timed animations often create an effect similar to a tightly scripted video.

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PowerPoint Professionals use the term “Death by PowerPoint” to describe presentations that are so boring and tedious that audiences stop listening.

Death by PowerPoint can damage any presentation—face-to-face or online. But it’s especially destructive to online Webinars. Face-to-face presenters may revive audiences through eye contact, body language or personal charm. But webinar presenters have only their voices, and any slides that create Death by PowerPoint.

The Death by PowerPoint syndrome can have many different faces, including confusing tables, undecipherable spreadsheets, unreadable text, and complex charts. However, the worst and most common symptom is a slide comprised of text bullets.

Psychologists and educators have proven that most people can’t listen to a speaker and read text simultaneously without confusion. If presenters speak words that differ from the slide, most people stop reading or listening. Of course some presenters read their text bullets word-for-word. Audiences then become quickly bored and stop viewing the screen.

The antidote of course is to eliminate ALL text bullets. Presenters however, often push back saying that they can’t deliver their messages without text bullets. In that case, webinar planners must turn to Plan B.

In Plan B, each slide can have only one message. A statement that might have been a text bullet can become a slide headline. The remainder of the slide then needs one or more photos, graphics, or diagrams—sometimes with text labels or titles, to support the headline.

Webinar presenters must always remember the difference between silent reading (e.g. a book, or report) and viewing a presentation onscreen.  Silent readers absorb material at their own speed, frequently speed-up or slow-down, skip-ahead or backtrack. Online viewers must accept the speed of the webinar. That usually means that the program must move ahead quickly. Viewers can absorb top-notch material rapidly. They don’t have time or any inclination however,  to read a screen full of text.

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Webinars have emerged as the web’s most effective and  inexpensive method of delivering business results. Businesses of all sizes deliver thousands of webinars daily. Sadly, most need to be greatly improved to deliver their true potential.

We view hundreds of webinars every year, and have been taking notes on the good, the bad and the ugly. We’re pleased to share seven tips that will enable any business to get far better results.

The first tip: Use Techniques that Maintain Audience Attention

Online Webinars are very different from face-to-face presentations. One obvious difference is that the presenter and the audience cannot see each other. The presenter therefore loses the power of eye contact. Even more important, there is no way to know whether audience members are paying attention. Are they still out there? Are they reading emails? Are they chatting with friends?

The best way to keep their attention is to make them into participants, by using interactive slides. Using the interactive slide example pictured above, the woman who is presenting begins her webinar by asking audience members to respond to the question onscreen.

The presenter then reads some of the responses back to the audience and mentions each respondent by name. She then promises to concentrate the webinar on the items that audience people have checked.

This request accomplishes two things. It empowers the audience to partially set the agenda, giving them a feeling of ownership. Equally important, the presenter has demonstrated that she is facilitating an interactive discussion, and each audience member must be alert to respond. This rapport uses the power of human nature as a presentation technique. No attendee wants to be embarrassed by being unavailable to answer.

Numerous studies have proven that participants learn and retain 70 percent more information when they are participating, instead  of  being passive viewers. And that’s the power of online interactivity.

(We’ll share the next six Webinar tips in upcoming posts.)

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Many sales and marketing organizations invest time and resources to increase Web site traffic, yet gain very few new prospects. Despite site redesign, search engine optimization, and improved messaging, their sites still don’t deliver their required sales performance.

The reason for these disappointing results is that many Web sites are unable to tell a compelling sales story. Although online pages are very effective at selling simple e-commerce products like books, t-shirts or cell phones, many products and services require a much more focused conversation to engage prospects.

Very few Web visitors spend more than a few seconds on a page before clicking to a new subject, going to a new page or leaving the site. Most sales stories require a few minutes of focused attention. Potential prospects are therefore lost before they have mentally connected with anything beyond a headline and one or two pictures. Although a Web page for sales is supposed to bring visitors to a follow-on step, Web sites typically don’t get the job done.

GoldInvest500

Online presentations are potentially much more effective vehicles for sales and marketing. However, presentations for this application must be designed with some common sense rules to be fully effective.

Rule Number One: Take advantage of multimedia capabilities, especially voice narration.

Rule Number Two: Tell a logical focused story in the same way that a sales professional would tell it face-to-face. Don’t distract the viewer with unrelated ideas.

Rule Number Three: Use interactive technology that makes the viewer a participant in the conversation. Ask the viewer to respond to questions that keep him or her mentally engaged.

Rule Number Four: Maintain viewer attention with compelling graphics and photos. Visuals are much more effective than text in helping the narrator to tell a content-rich story.

Rule Number Five: Combine information with emotional appeal. Prospects use both sides of their brains when they are fully engaged in a sales conversation. People buy because of their feelings as well as from the information that they understand. Presentations that appeal to emotions without a logical story don’t create new customers. Conversely, presentations that are content-rich yet dull and unappealing won’t succeed either.

Rule Number Six: Every slide must be an integral part of the story. It must match the narrator’s words by using eye-appealing imagery with little or no text.

Rule Number Seven: Be brief.

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Microsoft PowerPoint is one of the most important tools used by every successful online marketer. It is the medium of choice for creating a clear, concise online presentation. Sales professionals soon learn that they need a strong visual presentation to tell a compelling story, and PowerPoint is the obvious answer.

More than 40-million people use PowerPoint. It’s the world’s most widely used presentation tool. So many people have used it that we can safely recruit new salespeople and expect them to be PowerPoint users. That means that any organization can quickly train new people to deliver presentations using the same basic tools.

slidepresstack1Virtually everyone needs PowerPoint to build a business online. PowerPoint slides may be used like brochures in PDF format, for live presentations in a Webinar or as the basic medium of an on-demand presentation.

The negative side of PowerPoint is that many people think of a slide presentation as tedious and uninteresting. That’s because so many presentations are poorly planned and use only the weakest capabilities of the program. PowerPoint designers at Microsoft designed this tool with so much flexibility that presentations have an unlimited range of styles. Unfortunately, most people take the easiest road, resulting in the weakest possible presentations. We therefore want to offer recommendations for PowerPoint use that will provide the most compelling results for sales and marketing professionals.

Our most important overall recommendation is for every PowerPoint presenter to discover how to use the program’s full capabilities. Don’t re-use an unimaginative presentation produced for someone else. Customize every presentation to leverage yourself and create a professional, entertaining audience experience. Most people—even long-time PowerPoint presenters—don’t understand the incredible things that can be done with this powerful tool. Spending a couple of hours thumbing through “PowerPoint for Dummies” can deliver ideas that totally change the results produced by any presentations.

What are the basics for making presentations more effective? We can begin by following a few simple rules. The first simple rule is “keep presentations as short as possible.” Every slide should contribute to drawing audiences to “the next step” in a well planned sales, training or information transfer process. If any slide in a presentation doesn’t contribute in this way, delete it.

Rule number two is “use as little text as possible. Instead use graphics, photos, videos, cartoons, etc. to make visual statements. Although writing a virtual script of text bullets is easy, audiences don’t listen effectively when forced to read bullets. If the text bullets differ from the presenter’s speech they create confusion. If the bullets are identical to the spoken words, audiences assume that the presenter is simply reading from a script. PowerPoint provides much more powerful tools than simple text bullets. Successful professionals use these tools to be become master presenters, and master marketers.

We still need a few more rules to maximize the power of PowerPoint, and we will cover several of them in later posts.

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Microsoft PowerPoint is a great tool for telling a detailed story to any audience. But getting that story to work effectively and smoothly on a Web site is challenging. PresenterNet On demand Showrooms provide a low-cost way to get the job done. And any PowerPoint user can add, edit or change their online content, without a Webmaster or tech support. For more details go to:
http://www.presenternet.com/advantage/microsoft-powerpoint-online.php

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CRM companies and related software providers offer a myriad of tools to identify, qualify, and track sales leads. Many of these offerings sound great to potential CRM users, but they all have one basic flaw that can leave them useless. They all depend on a system being able to identify qualification criteria, or simply offer database searches based on plug-in criteria like industry, size of company, revenues, etc.

Salespeople know that there are only three TRUE criteria for qualification:

  1. prospects must be interested in speaking with them;
  2. the product must meet the prospect’s needs;
  3. and the sales contact must have the capability to make or drive a buying decision.

Unfortunately, these criteria can only be defined by prospects themselves, not by database searches or even by sales rep call reports.

The most successful sales of any product or service are those that occur when a potential buyer informs a sales organization that he or she is ready for serious discussions. The success of Webinars as lead generators has grown exponentially for that reason, but Webinars alone aren’t the full answer. The fact that a potential prospect attended a Webinar is indeed an indication of some level of interest, but the overwhelming majority of attendees are not prospects, having participated for a variety of reasons other than buying interest.

Webinars on PresenterNet however, add the most important element for qualifying a true sales lead. By providing InterActors on slides that enable attendees to respond onscreen to various questions during a Webinar, they capture information directly from the potential prospect. These are the kinds of questions that a salesperson would want to ask if given the opportunity to speak candidly:

“Would you like us to call you for an appointment?”

“Do you have a need for the kind of product we sell?”

“Are you the decision maker, or should we contact another person in your organization?”

“Do you currently have funding to commit to this area?”

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how interested are you?”

“How do you see our product potentially fitting into your company’s plans?”

Answers to questions like these help sales people to find and close the very best opportunities. Interactive slides with these capabilities therefore become the missing links to making Webinars the top business drivers available to any sales organization worldwide.

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The recent deluge of available Webinars shows that the business world has finally decided that they are a viable element in any closed-loop marketing strategy. You can find Webinars on just about any topic and they range from free to several hundred dollars to attend.

As technology evolves and business people look for better results from their Webinars, they discover the true interactive capabilities of Presenternet. Collecting input and feedback from the audience at every step of the Webinar means that when the Webinar is complete, you have a sorted list of qualified sales leads ready for follow-up. By collecting input from your audience and storing it for later reports, you are cutting your sales process time by as much as half. As the industry progresses and more adn more companies turn to marketing Webinars as a mainstay of business, competition for audience mindshare will increase. Be sure to plan your Webinar properly and don’t spend any more time than you have to with follow-up. Take control of your data and deliver results from every dollar invested in Webinars.

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