Have you ever attended an audio only webinar? Neither had I nor had I ever intended to until today. When I clicked “attend” on my webinar confirmation, GoToWebinar informed me that the webinar was “full”. I tweeted the webinar sponsors but alas the room limit had been reached and nothing could be done. Since I had already set aside this hour of my time, I decided to dial into the webinar conference number and listen anyway.
First, the obligatory scold. Most webinar platforms allow you to place a limit on registrations. Anyone who receives a confirmation of their webinar registration should expect to gain entrance. I don’t know why GoToWebinar couldn’t handle everyone who received a confirmation. If the webinar hosts did place an attendance limit, GoToWebinar should have rejected registration requests that went beyond the attendance limit. From my Twitter feed, I could tell I was not the only one locked out. Thank goodness I had not paid for this webinar.
However, here is the odd thing. The audio of the webinar was quite engaging. In fact, it was so conversational that I found myself wondering what slides could possibly have supported it. I surmised that the slides perhaps presented a question for the panel to discuss. When I finally got into the visual part of the webinar with only ten minutes left I found my guess was correct. The slide documented the question that was being discussed by the panel at that moment. So, my first assessment of the experience was that the slides didn’t add much value. (When I actually play the recording that they’re sending me, I’ll know for sure.)
But then I looked deeper at my own behavior as an attendee. Despite the enjoyable conversational style of the webinar, my mind wandered without any accompanying visuals. I picked up the essentials but I wasn’t riveted. Once I got into the webinar proper with only ten minutes to go, I noticed that my attention level increased even though the slide being presented wasn’t particularly interesting.
So the question remains did my attention waver because of my EXPECTATION of a visual component? Clearly the two or three slides I saw at the end of the webinar did not add much value yet they commanded my attention anyway. Had the same audio been advertised as a tele-seminar would it have had a different effect on me?
The whole experience speaks to the complex psychological mix that is the well produced webinar. In that typically one hour time frame, you are engaging your attendee’s eyes, ears and mind. You are immersing him into your world such that he stays with you and does not wander. If any component — visual, audio, interaction — fails, your audience suffers.
Just for kicks, attend a webinar and don’t look at the slides and see how it effects your experience. I discovered that even with a great audio track, a webinar without visuals didn’t quite hit the mark.