Six Tips for a Better Webinar

(An Attendee’s Perspective)

You’ve gotta be kidding. Recently, I was a participant in a webinar presented by a respected Silicon Valley firm. I like and respect the guy who organized it, so I won’t provide any identifiable information on the presenter or his firm.

The subject matter was well researched and well organized, but there were just SO many things wrong, I found that the glitches quickly got in the way of the material that was being presented.

So listen up! Here’s my newly-created list of 6 ironclad rules for presenting your next webinar.

  1. Don’t start late. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “Let’s just wait another couple of minutes for others who may be joining.” And usually this is said when we are already several minutes past the scheduled start time. The people who are on time are likely your best audience for whatever it is you are presenting. Don’t diss us by making us wait for stragglers. I’m less likely to attend your next webinar if you do.
  2. Don’t use a speakerphone. There’s not a speakerphone in the world that sounds as good as a wired headset or handset. If what you’re saying is worth me hearing, then please help me hear it cleanly and clearly. You’re taking a lazy shortcut by using a speakerphone. And never, EVER conduct a webinar from any kind of wireless phone.
  3. Go fullscreen! I don’t want to watch your slides in a PowerPoint edit window, surrounded by your desktop icons. Help me focus on your message, and not the fact that you use both Chrome and Firefox, and have a folder of photos from the last Club trip on your desktop. Fullscreen will also prevent your attendees from seeing “Click to Add Text” on a lot of your slides.
  4. Take a moment to shut down your email and messaging programs before you start. Incoming message pop-ups are always distracting to the audience, and could prove embarrassing to you or your company. If your webinar software has a feature to block your desktop from being shared, by all means use it.
  5. Run through your slides before you show them to your audience. In the webinar I attended, there were several instances of words being broken because they were too long or in too large a font size for the shapes into which they were placed. It makes you look sloppy and rushed.
  6. Look at the questions from attendees as they come in! It does no good if you wait until the end of the hour to notice that Jessica has said, “Speak up! Are you on a speakerphone?” during the first 5 minutes.

Scott owns American Airlines

A couple of weeks ago, I flew out of Columbus, Ohio on American Airlines. I was connecting in JFK, and since I had a tight connection time (gotta have words with my travel agent on that) I was getting concerned because the incoming aircraft had not yet arrived, and boarding time was approaching.

I walked up to the gate agent to see if he had information on how late we were going to be. The agent, Scott, from his name tag, gave me the information I needed. First, that the incoming aircraft was approaching the airport and would be landing shortly. Secondly, he assured me that he would personally do everything he could to assure a quick turnaround of the plane. On a side note, he said we were getting a fresh flight crew and all of its members were present and checked in. And finally, he said that he would monitor the situation for me and if necessary, see what could be done if my connection seemed in jeopardy. Then, he said he was happy that I was on his flight, and said he was very good at getting it turned around quickly and efficiently.

On the surface, this is a level of service and concern for a paying passenger that should be baseline from any customer service employee. We all know, though, that such is seldom the case.

The incoming flight arrived and Scott, true to his word, made sure that boarding was fast and efficient. I think we finally departed less than 15 minutes behind the scheduled time. In JFK, the connection was not a problem, though a walk from one Jetway directly onto the next is never what I would call a “comfortable” connection.

Nonetheless, I kept thinking about Scott, and his attitude toward me and toward his job. He took ownership of my concern, affirmed a commitment to help the situation and shared his pleasure that I was flying AA and letting him work for me during this small phase of my journey. It was just a few sentences exchanged, on a “problem” that never really materialized. But Scott was in charge of that gate with an attitude as if he were the CEO of the airline.

Hawaii Five-0 needs an identity check

I approach TV reboots with an open mind. The reimagined Battlestar Galactica stands as one of my all-time favorites. And Star Trek: The Next Generation, while not technically a reboot, was a worthy successor to The Original Series. Heck, I was even a fan of the Dragnet reboot starring Ed O’Neill a few years back. I don’t know who the other fan was.

I liked the original Hawaii Five-O, and was cautiously optimistic when word came that it was being reimagined as well. If you’re going to resurrect a TV series, you have to keep enough continuity and familiarity with the original to connect with and retain fans of the source. Otherwise, why bother pretending there is a lineage being extended?

The new Hawaii Five-0 had a great freshman season. The pilot was dark and emotional, as Steve McGarrett’s father is murdered, with Steve listening helplessly on the phone. The Five-0 team is assembled as in the original, as a special police unit reporting directly to the governor. The team is McGarrett, Danny Williams, Chin Ho Kelly, and Kono Kalukaua (who is a female cop now, and Chin Ho’s cousin). The end of the pilot has the team solidified and talking about what they should call themselves. Hey, how about, “Five-0?”

While I thought the first season stories were decent, unpredictable and had enough character development to keep me coming back, I think the second season has come close to jumping the shark.

My complaints:

Product Placement. OK… I kind of like seeing that Hawaiian Airlines jet in the opening credits. Subtle, but effective. The other placements, though, are stop-the-action plugs that are anything but subtle. First, there is the slobbering love affair with Danny’s Camaro. Every shot with that car is composed like a page out of a car brochure. And Chevy Runs Deep. All the Honolulu police cars are Chevys, and the bad guys nearly always drive some other brand. Then there’s Microsoft. There have been plugs for Bing and for Microsoft Sky Drive. Both have been contrived and a jarring interruption to the story.

Lori Weston. First season, we had four members of the Five-0 team, and now we have added former fed Lori Weston. Am I the only one who asks, Why? Is it because Kono, being both team member and Chin Ho’s cousin, can’t become a credible romantic interest for Steve or Danny? Lori’s not a bad character, just unnecessary as a regular. Plus, Lori seems to be getting more screen time at the expense of Kono. What gives?

Max Bergman. I knew the season was going downhill when Masi Oka, who plays Max, is now featured in the main titles. Max as a character is good at comic relief, but he stretches the bounds of credibility, being an entire CSI team in one man, and a Star Trek geek besides. Max doesn’t need to be a regular. He is there to provide fast answers to move a fast script along. Which leads to my next complaint.

Needlessly convoluted story lines. Second season stories run at a breakneck pace, with usually more than one dead-end in the crime investigation process. To keep up this pace, the Five-0 team has to rely on superhuman deductive reasoning, high-tech gadgetry and leaps of insight that are over-the-top. In a recent episode, McGarrett knows off the top of his head the maximum flight time of a single-engine Cessna aircraft that has crashed at sea. Really, Steve? And then they set out to recover the “black box,” oblivious to the fact that in real life, single-engine Cessnas don’t have black boxes. But the story needed it, so it was there.

Kamekona. More comic relief, and he appears WAY too often.

“Five-0!” Our team yells this as they bust through doors, obviously assuming that this elite police squad reporting to the governor is known by name to everyone in the Aloha State. Maybe because they’re not real police?

Overall, I think Hawaii Five-0 is suffering an identity crisis. Is it straight police drama or dramedy? Serious or camp? Episodic, or arc-driven (there are elements of both). Do the producers feel the core cast is not strong enough, and need to support them with Max, Kamekona, Lori and Joe White?

The show is strong enough to run for many seasons, if it can decide what it wants to be. Right now, it’s pretty much of a mess.

Do pens to detect fake bills do any good?

I wonder how many counterfeit twenty-dollar bills are really caught by those “detector” marker pens that seem to be at most retail check-outs these days? Not many, I’ll bet.

We were in Target the other night and I paid with a twenty. The clerk took my money, put it in the drawer, swiped The Pen on it, and proceeded to make my change. To my observation, the drawer was closed far too quickly for the cashier to have really taken a look at the mark on the bill.

If my bill had been counterfeit, the most likely scenario is that the bill would have been accepted unchallenged by the cashier, and then given out in change to the next customer who paid with a larger bill and needed a twenty in change.

These pens, as used, fall squarely into the category of False Security. The retailer thinks they are being protected against counterfeit bills, but the way the pens are used doesn’t really provide the desired protection.

I wonder what happens in the case where Alice hands the cashier a fake bill, The Pen is used and the (undetected) fake bill goes into the till. Bob is the next customer in line and is given the bill in change. Is the store guilty of passing counterfeit money? I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me pretty obvious that the store would be found guilty.

Does the store assume greater responsibility (and thus liability) by using the pen? Would the store be better protected by not using the pens at all if they are not actually stopping cashiers from accepting bad bills?

Live and Let Live

It is perfectly OK to be personally opposed to “x” without demanding that some government make “x” prohibited for everybody. We as individuals and as a society have become far too meddlesome. It is a national disgrace.

How did “Zero Grams” get started?

You see it everywhere, on packages and fast food menus: “0 Grams Trans Fat.” The meaning is there, but why the awkwardness? Wouldn’t “No Trans Fat” say the same thing as well? Why “grams?” Nowhere is “0 Ounces Trans Fat” to bee seen! The point (I guess) is, why choose a unit of measure, when the measurement is zero?

I work at home most days, so would I ever be correct in saying, “I have a zero miles commute today?” Probably not.

Michael Moore’s Latest Ravings

At RealClearPolitics today, wealthy liberal film maker Michael Moore is quoted as saying that wealth is a “national resource,” and goes on to state that the wealthy (“these people” in Moore-speak) are not being taxed at nearly the level that he, Mr. Moore, thinks is the “proper rates.”

This is so wrong on so many levels, yet it is typical of the liberal narrative. In the liberal worldview, economies are zero-sum… one person benefits only if another person loses. The fact is blindingly obvious, though, that wealth in a capitalist society is created… by hard work, wise decisions, sometimes dumb luck, and a strong profit motive.

Mr. Moore seems to think that business exists to create jobs, and that workers somehow inherit a right to those jobs. The cleverness is that for Mr. Moore, President Obama and the political left in general, “jobs” really means “union jobs” or “entry-level jobs” or any other category of “job” that can be wrapped up and packaged as a constituency for the Democrat party.

You don’t hear liberals saying we need more “careers” or more “professionals” or more “executives.” Those classes of wealth creators quickly wise up to the truth that the “little guy” will always vote Democrat as long as the left can keep him or her envious and powerless and dependent on the public dole.

Mr. Moore’s world vision is a dreary one indeed, with job security for the masses but no promise of upward mobility that is the hallmark of free-market capitalism.

Mr. Moore, if private business is so evil, why do cities and states fall over one another to attract new business development?