Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and my blog is where I get to voice mine. With that being said, I’m going to go ahead and throw out the following:
Video has it place in webinars, but I hate the use of webcams!
I can almost hear the clacking of keys by the many people who are going to disagree with this bold statement.
But…I hate webcams for webinars.
I received a call from one of my favourite customers this week. He’s a smart, technical professional who, while risk averse, is someone whose use of technology is continually evolving. After completing a pilot webinar with us last year, he’s invested the time to ramp up a webinar program that is quickly becoming an integral part of his organization’s marketing communications strategy.
With this underway, he has approached me with the next hurdle he wants to overcome: improving his webinar engagement. Makes sense right? Audience engagement is the key to achieving ROI from a webinar program.
This brings me back my bold opinion about videos.
Video is one of the most consumed forms of content on the internet. Foresters Research says that “One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words”. With respect to webinars, video is the next best thing to physically being in the room with the webinar presenter(s).
According to this Vidyard infographic “Video users grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users”.
And what is one of the easiest, most cost effective ways to deliver a video webinar? Webcams! So, I get the hype, but I don’t have to like it.
Allow me to analogize; just because riding my mountain bike is the most cost effective way for me to get from my home in Hamilton to the my office in Toronto everyday doesn’t make it the “right” way, nor the most effective way. Rather, riding my mountain bike to visit my friend who is an easy 20 minute ride away, or using it as a form of exercise are much better uses of my two wheeled friend.
This is why I didn’t just say “I hate webcams. Period.” I think that webcams have their place. I use FaceTime a lot with my son and my friends. I love using my webcam when I am running a planning session with a remote colleague, or delivering a 1-on-1 sales presentation to a prospect using my Adobe Connect Pro license – but I feel strongly against webcams being effective when it comes to webinars.
See you next week! …Just kidding, because you’d better believe I am going to back up why I hate webcams for webinars!
Reason 1: You have little control
Let’s consider all that goes into producing one of the many webinars from our studio – our Better Webinar Events are a good example of this.
- Stage is lit with minimum 8 different lights that often need to be reset when we get on set (for me, this is mainly because my head is so shiny and I need to minimize the enormous glare)
- Video cameras are white balanced and adjusted repeatedly during the pre-show
- Microphones are placed with precision on the presenter’s shirt by production professionals
- Producers in the control room have the ability to make strategic camera cuts, such as cutting away from a presenter when they are not presently speaking or looking down at their notes
In short – creating webinars like this, are in themselves, a whole production. The payoff however, is gratifying as it really does offer audience members the next best thing to being there in person.
Now, let’s take the above breakdown and contrast this with a speaker using their own technology (their webcam). Off the bat, having a controlled “set” goes out the window and control over lighting is 100% removed. Sure, there are best practices to minimize these flaws, but the end result is mediocre at best.
The above paragraph doesn’t reflect the most important problem when it comes to using webcams to deliver a webinar. Yes, my dear readers, we are going to tackle that next:
Reason 2: People are uncomfortable on webcam (or at least come across that way)
“Can you see me?” …..”I hope everyone can see me!”
Of the thousands of webcam webinars I’ve seen, nearly all of them begin or involve this question being asked. This statement may appear innocent, but it gives off the impression of a general lack of trust in the technology being used and arguably qualifies the event as getting off to a rocky start.
Furthermore, webcam presenters are generally forced to see themselves on their screen while presenting. While there is sometimes the option for them to minimize this view, the fear of video “not working” has presenters keeping the self-view up. With this in place, it’s nearly impossible not to have awkward moments, because it’s not a natural way to present to an audience.
And there’s more folks! Aside from the webcam self-view, this method of delivery involves the presenter also having visibility to their PowerPoint slides and other distracting elements, such as the questions that are coming in and any chat functions the audience are engaged in. With all of this distraction, guess where the presenter is not looking? That’s right – the camera! Looking directly into the camera is the power of video as a medium as it allows the speaker to look audience members in the eye, which is a powerful connection.
Rebuttal 1: But Mark Zuckerberg uses a webcam, so you’re wrong Matt!
That’s very true, and same goes with the thousands of successful YouTubers out there. So, I must repeat, I would never label webcams as being a flawed technology as a whole. In fact, webcams are getting better and better! Products like Blue Jeans and Vidyo have enabled really powerful HD web cameras with PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) capabilities and more. It’s all about HOW webcams are being used, and the use-case examples above are a different ballgame than that of executing a powerful webinar.
Rebuttal 2: Matt, you use video for every webinar you do and that’s not a realistic goal for me.
Solid point. My company is Canada’s leading webinar based marketing platform provider. This is what I live and breathe and I am fully cognizant that this is far from the reality of my clients. So, it’s important that I be clear:
I am NOT saying that you need to do studio productions like we do for all of your webinars. It’s also not an “all or nothing” scenario. At the end of this post, I will point you to some resources that elaborate on this point.
What I AM saying is that webcam webinars are rarely an effective way to deliver video for your webinar.
Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. Exceptions are rare. Enough said.
If you’re going to use video, do it right. If you can’t do it right, then consider removing the video element. Don’t let a webinar with a clearly distracted presenter who’s visually coming across in an unflattering manner define your message.
Remember that the whole point of using video is to engage your audience. Webcam webinars do not improve audience engagement!
Some ideas for when & how to use video in your webinar: