Tension Management in Webinars/Teleclasses

Hi, Everyone!

Here’s a great article written by ChangeWorks Professional Paul Plamondon about tension management as it applies to the development and delivery of teleclasses and webinars.

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Do you want to put on an engaging, client-attracting, income-producing teleclass or webinar? Avoid these 3 mistakes and do some basic tension-management, and you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.

When delivering a teleclass or webinar, it’s easy to make mistakes and not even realize it. Even when we know better, it can still be difficult to avoid some mistakes. We retreat to bad habits, we get lazy, or we just don’t know any better. Most common mistakes are avoidable when we take a conscious, mindful approach to preparing a teleclass or webinar.

In this article, I describe three of the most common mistakes and what to do about them. I also address the issue of tension-management in the learning process. At the end, there is a link to a related ChangeGrid and an invitation to a webinar I’m leading on July 28.

Mistake #1: Not knowing who your audience is.

Knowing exactly who your intended audience is needs to be one of the first things you do when deciding to put on a teleclass or webinar, but it’s easy to skip this step. I’m not suggesting that you do a formal research study or in-depth audience analysis (unless your situation calls for it), but you should take a few minutes to get clear about who you want to attract to your teleclass or webinar, and identify what their unique characteristics, needs, circumstances, limitations, and expectations are.

This mistake can have a snowball effect on all of your subsequent decisions and it can create all kinds of unintended obstacles. When you take the time to get clear about your audience, you will be amazed at how much easier it makes the rest of the process, including content-selection, activity-creation, and marketing.

Mistake #2: Delivering an information dump instead of an engaging experience.

It is a thousand times easier to deliver an information dump than it is to create an engaging experience for participants. This is no joke. And, when we are experts in something, all we need is a captive audience and we can go on and on with little or no preparation. We can get so lost in our own brilliance that we lose sight of our audience’s needs. Well, at least one person is engaged (YOU!).

The risk of delivering an information dump instead of an engaging experience is that our audience will be drowning in information. Drowning tends to elicit stress or giving up, neither of which are conducive to effective learning.

Mistake #3: Not marketing your program.

If you truly have value to offer other people, you need to let your target market know it (which takes us right back to Mistake #1). If you do not make your offerings visible to the people who might need them, you are doing them a disservice. In some ways, it’s much easier to hide among the walls of your home-office and hope the phone rings (I’ve done my fair share of that), but very few people will find you. You deserve to be seen and they deserve to see you, even if it’s scary for you.

The mistake that teleclass and webinar leaders make is that they put together a fantastic learning experience, but they get shy about telling people about it. Then they get upset and embarrassed when no one shows up. Then they give up. The whole process becomes an expensive exercise in futility.

How Do I Overcome These Mistakes? The Stages of Design

As I said, these mistakes are very common and they are easy to make. But they don’t have to be your reality. I advocate taking a conscious, intentional approach to creating your teleclass or webinar. You’ll devote more time on the front end, but the results will deliver a bigger payoff on the back end. And besides, it’s more professional and more respectful to your audience.

The process I teach is called the Stages of Design: Discovery, Design, Development, and Delivery.

The first stage, Discovery, is the foundation of every decision you will make, including the content you choose, the activities you design, the media you choose, and how you market it. This is where you get clear about who your audience is, what their problems and needs are, what limitations they might have, and so on. Discovery conquers Mistake #1 and it has undeniable implications for the other mistakes.

The Design stage contains a secret ingredient: start the process by asking yourself, “What do I want people to be able to do as a result of attending my program?” instead of “What do I want people to know?” Asking the “…to be able to do…” question will take you down a very different path than the other question. It will release you from dumping all that information on your audience and, instead, it will inspire activities and non-lecture approaches to teaching them. It’s magic…and it addresses Mistake #2.

The Development stage focuses your attention on developing activities, materials, visuals, and conceptual models that the audience will appreciate and find engaging. This too helps curb the potential for an information dump. Instead of putting together text-filled slides, try an interesting photo that uncovers the deeper meaning of a concept or create a worksheet that will give the participants a chance to practice using a concept rather than just telling them about the concept. This stage also addresses Mistake #2.

The Delivery stage occurs when you are delivering your teleclass or webinar. If you’ve taken the time to do your prep work through the other three stages, chances are good that your delivery will be effective, engaging, and credible.

All the work you did during the Discovery stage applies to your marketing strategy. This is how you address Mistake #3 – get really clear about who your audience is and then Design and Develop your strategy so that it is appropriate for them.

What about Tension Management?

When you follow the stages of design, you will follow the Natural Learning Cycle, which is incorporated into the Design and Development phases. The Natural Learning Cycle is the basic process by which people learn. When used correctly, it naturally shifts the tension at key moments so that attention and retention are maximized.

The Natural Learning Cycle is not difficult to learn, and it’s one of the core concepts I teach in my courses. In fact, if you know the ChangeGrid, you already have insight into what the Natural Learning Cycle is.

Do You Want to Know More?

I put together a ChangeGrid (or http://bit.ly/cnZdew) on the core activities for putting on teleclasses and webinars. I invite you to complete the ChangeGrid. I’m using this on a research-study basis and once I get a dozen or so responses, I’ll invite you to a webinar where we can review and explore the responses.

I also invite you to attend my upcoming webinar on the Discovery phase (or http://www.customtrainingdesign.com/discoveryalacarte.html). We’ll explore the key questions you need to ask yourself before designing a teleclass/webinar so that you can unearth the critical information that will drive your entire decision-making and design process. The course is on Wednesday, July 28 from 9-10 am PDT and the cost is $49. If you cannot attend in person, I will gladly share the recording with you. I also offer a 100% money-back guarantee – if you don’t feel that it was worthwhile, just let me know.

If you want to know more about me or the work I do, please visit my website at www.CustomTrainingDesign.com.

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If you enjoyed Paul’s article, please be sure to send him a note or leave a comment here on the blog — and definitely take advantage of the opportunity to complete the ChangeWorks profile he’s put together!

-T-

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