When you have a great product or service to show off in the social media world, you can envision its allure and you can pitch its success. One next logical step is to produce a webinar so that others can see what you see and hear what you have to say about it.
That’s the obvious part. But before you can even start to develop your webinar, you have to choose: Keynote or PowerPoint?
Per usual, Apple has come out with its own presentation software, Keynote, to rival Microsoft’s PowerPoint. Each are budget-friendly: Keynote can be purchased from Apple’s App Store for $9.99; PowerPoint is included in Microsoft Office, the newest version (Office 365) ranging from $6-$20 per user/month for small to midsized businesses. Each has inherent software defects such as low resolution and stiff sequentiality. Done with savvy, you can make great webinar presentations using either one.
The key difference (pun intended) is, for now, who is using what. The resounding answer is, unsurprisingly, influential speakers and Keynote.
Arguably the two most notable Keynote users are in the toughest pitching biz there is: politics. Al Gore and Stanford professor-turned-participatory democracy advocate Lawrence Lessig have been able to gain a wide range of audiences and keep them engaged with their “slides as chorus” technique, blending their convincing storytelling with visually impressive graphics and imagery.
Let’s put Mr. Gore to the side right now, seeing as he’s big business and did not grow that business using internet marketing. However, it should be noted that Gore’s rising influence is, in part, thanks to his impressive live presentations. If you saw An Inconvenient Truth (description from IMDB.com), Gore’s 2006 Oscar-winning movie on global warming, you can see Keynote in action for the majority of the film.
Lessig, however, is using webinars as both a basis of gaining traction for his new “cause”—to prevent government corruption using the internet as a tool for gathering the masses—and an example of how to create an effective outreach model. In fact, as a college professor, Lessig has been able to leverage Keynote and webinars for online classes to appeal to the greatest generation of internet users—who have the most evasive sets of eyes: Gen X.
It’s no coincidence that Gore and Lessig are using the same software, even though at first look the interfaces are practically identical. Apple, however, has done a greater job of getting ahead of the curve by integrating technically advanced capabilities from within the application that make dynamic building more intuitive.
For example, Keynote supports QuickTime videos without plug-ins. It can also scale high-level vectors such as large HD images. These attributes allow the slides to speak for themselves, thus allowing the narrative to become its own entity to engage onlookers the same way a direct conversation has more of an impact than a telegram.
In 2005, before the webinar boom, Edward Tufte, American statistician and professor emeritus at Yale, wrote that the best way to convey information to an audience was to get rid of the PowerPoint format altogether and, instead, provide a Word document for initial review followed by discussion and debate for the remainder of the session. It is too easy for us to go back to the old-school PowerPoint presentations where you take a laser pointer and read down the prepared bullet points. Instead, good webinars will use a slideshow as a foundation upon which to build a verbal argument. Like Tufte’s method, this formula works because it blends the best practices of verbal and visual presentations while eliminating redundancy at the same time.
After all, you’ve already won half the battle: The audience is already strapped in and ready for the ride. People are attending the webinar because their interest is peeked. The trick is maintaining their attention or the process of promoting the webinar itself has already been a waste of precious time. Time you could be devoting, for example, to the product/service you are pitching, or finding new avenues to let people know about the webinars (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Attention spans are undoubtedly at a historical low so the webinar needs to be, more than anything, visually engaging. There’s a reason Pinterest has skyrocketed to the top of the hot social networks: people like to like to be visually stimulated. Once you’ve captured their eyes, their ears will follow. Just be sure your words fill their ears with prepared, engaging information that brings the entire webinar together.
What webinar presentation software do you prefer? Or are you more in the mindset of Edward Tufte? Let’s start a conversation in the comment section below.