I found a free webinar that interested me. An expert in an area I’m weak would give me all the tips and tricks to save time and produce the product I want to make. The program allowed me to link to the recording later, and I’m just getting around to listening.
I was not familiar with the presenter (never heard of him before), but this is a topic I am specifically interested in, I self-selected my attendance (no one forced or suggested I listen), and I listened with anticipation that this would give me much-needed information and motivation to accomplish something great. In short, I was looking forward to the program.
For my time, what did I get? Here’s how it began.
- Opening words: “All righty.” Not exactly the beginning I was hoping for.
- There were 14 non-words in the first MINUTE. Not exactly the expert platform I came to learn from.
- From 00:02 – 00:37, welcome, platitudes, “we know your time is urgent“, “this is going to be great!” “I’d like to start off…“
- 00:37 – 2:30 welcome to expert (“without Fred, this call wouldn’t be happening…“). Background of expert. “lot of great information to share with you…” Written bio (I found the exact wording on the web)” business statement/brand statement, including web address.
- 2:30 – 5:46 “I’m so honored to be here…” yadda yadda… “I’d like to start us off…” Focus/visualization exercise to relieve stress and feel better. I guess.
- After investing 5:15 of my time, I know NOTHING more than the blurb in the email that got me to sign up. I’ve done endured something I didn’t want to do, and was supposedly motivated by a value that actually means very little to me personally. We conclude with “now get ready to learn…” Whew, finally!
- 5:46-9:55 host comes back on. Asks expert to give his background about how he got to be an expert. That ran on for 4+ minutes and ended with host’s, “That is a great story.“
I wish that such beginnings were rare, but I find that they are really quite normal. People throw out thanks to everyone on earth and do feel-good “centering” exercises, but do NOT connect with the primary reason the audience has assembled and do next to nothing to get my attention.
Webinars are hard. I’ll readily accept that. But the principles are the same. If you know that “time is short”, then why does it take close to ten minutes before the first word of content is uttered?
There has to be a beginning. Here are three things to make them awesome.
- Never say “I’d like to start off with…” (or worse, “before we get started“. Corollary: “I want to tell you about…“)
- Open with something that gets their attention. Briefly. Anecdote. Personal story. Something funny. A real poser of a question. Setting up an analogy. Make it interesting. NOTHING about the logistics of the meeting or the background of the speaker to open.
- Once you have their attention, give them a reason to listen. It’s about THEM (Rule #!). Your story doesn’t matter, but why they want to hear it does. Give them a reason to spend the time.
THEN and only then can you share logistics, background, and a framework for your precious material.
For what it’s worth, I never finished hearing what this expert had to say — he hadn’t given me any reason to believe it was of interest to me.
Open with high-impact, interesting reasons to listen.