Webinar Whammy Factors

One of our senior webinar producers is retiring at the end of the year, and we’ve recently been sharing  war stories about the proverbial ‘whammy factor’ that happens for virtually every live webinar.

“Whammy factor” is the highly technical terms used to describe the things that can – and will – go wrong, usually during the live event or just minutes before you go live. It can be anything as mundane as an echo in the phone-line (solution: hang up and dial back in again) to a very loud fire alarm in the office building of the guest speaker (solution: switch to cell phone and finish the call from outside.)

Without fail, every webcast has some level of whammy factor attached to it. With luck, it occurs before you get on the phone with the presenters or clients. Seasoned producers know that the whammy factor can come at any time — and are braced to deal with the unexpected. It’s true of any live event, and it’s what makes the job a bit more exciting.

Digital Marketing Depot celebrated its ninth year of webinars last week — hard to believe we’ve been doing this for nearly a decade!

So, to commemorate these years of producing and moderating webinars, here are some highlights of potential whammy factors (and resolutions) we’ve seen over time, both here and with other webinar providers.

— power outage in speaker’s entire building 10 minutes before live (solution: speaker went to his car and called in from cell phone, spoke to his printed out deck)

— speaker dialing in from a mountain top in France loses cell service (solution: our moderator filled air time with extra polling question, plus some live Q+A with the second speaker/presenter)

— audio fail during live Q+A for the moderator and presenters. This was interesting – the audience could hear the presenters, but they couldn’t hear each other during a point when they were supposed to be interacting. (solution: DMD staffer used instant message to let speakers know when there was a pause in the conversation, and pinged the moderator when it was time push out next question)

— toll-free dial-in number no longer working (solution: bite the bullet and use back-up toll number. That’s why there are usually two numbers to work with)

— speaker/presenter suddenly drops off call without realizing it (solution: use the instant message feature in the platform to reach out to them, or be prepared to text the speaker. Don’t hide it from the audience, and be ready to run an extra polling question or have a short promo or survey ready to run.

— moderator’s computer freezes up (solution: calmly re-boot the computer and log back in again.)

— audience members write in that they can’t hear (solution: don’t panic, and check your own backup audience view, which you should always have running. Determine how widespread the problem might be. Oftentimes, a handful of viewers are having their own technical issues and everyone else can hear just fine.

Like any other live presentation, preparation is key — which is why here at Digital Marketing Depot we have a long list of things that get checked off before any webcast. Including a few of our own superstitious actions, which will remain our secret.

We have a large library of on-demand webinars covering a range of digital marketing topics. There are whammy factors associated with some of these — but I challenge you to identify them. The hallmark of a good producer is someone who remains calm, rolls with the punches, and turns whammy factor into a slam-dunk success.