Are you wondering: should webinars be live-only? Or do you ‘owe it’ to your audience to offer replays? Here are 5 important things you need to know first.
I have run over 100 live webinars and live stream training events over the past few years now and, boy, have I had some learning curve lessons! As an NLP Trainer for over a decade, I thought I was already an expert at leading live events, but these have taught me SO much.
I’d love to shortcut your learning curve and share some insider secrets, to help you make the most of your live sessions. And today we’re covering why I’m moving my free webinars to be ‘live only’, as of next month.
I love running webinars, because they mean I get to connect with people all over the world, to make the difference I’m here to make, and they can show up in their PJs, without having to cover travel costs. There’s only one of me, and there are only so many workshops I can run a year, so webinars allow me to reach thousands more dream clients and help them to experience how we could work together – as well as getting to make a difference in their life.
Now here’s how I used to run my webinars (which I call ‘online Masterclasses’, because they’re packed with so much high-value content): I used to not be too fussed who showed up live and who watched the replay, trusting that the people who needed to see it would make it. I was pretty laid back about it and ‘trusted the Universe’.
But there are major problems with this approach. And I want you to avoid the mistakes I have made on this in the past few years.
5 Reasons Why You Need Your Attendees Showing Up Live
1. A great Masterclass NEEDS the energy of the students
I have been an NLP Trainer since 2003 and LOVE leading live face-to-face workshops. I get a total high from experiencing the journey that students take in the room. In fact, I led my first professional seminar nearly 20 years ago (a kid out of college teaching project and time management to senior managers? Somehow it worked!)
What makes the courses ROCK isn’t me or my energy, it’s how I ‘shepherd’ the energy and journey of the people in the room.
On a webinar, I end up using more of ‘my’ energy, rather than being able to ‘work the energy of the room’. So the interaction in the chat box for the webinar is vital.
If most people wait for the replay, then the chat box risks being quieter than a Nun on a silent retreat, and it takes much more effort to keep the vibe high and fun.
2. You Can’t Tell If What You’re Sharing Is Resonating Or Boring People
With an online Masterclass, you can’t see people’s faces, so it’s harder to sense whether they’re ‘getting’ what you’re teaching – or if they need clarification.
When you’re confident running webinars, you’ll have developed ways to engage your audience as you go through, so you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t. (Let me know via the comments if you’d like tips on this!)
I often end up diving in more deeply, in response to questions from the chat box – or clarifying stuff that didn’t make sense. I love having the flexibility to hone what I’m sharing, on-the-fly.
But if everyone is waiting for the replay, then it’s ‘crickets’ in the chat box and you might as well do a pre-recorded session. You risk under-delivering and missing the full potential of what you’re teaching, because you’re effectively talking to yourself.
Given that most people on a webinar will hide quietly in the virtual corner, you need quite a good number of enthusiastic participants to get the chat box rocking.
3. People Get More Inspired By ‘Live’
There’s something truly special about being connected with a ‘live’ performance, whether it’s a concert or a play or a radio show – or a webinar.
If your aim is to inspire and empower people to take action, my research over the past 3+ years (and my experience with my students) shows that this is MUCH more likely to happen for those who showed up live.
After the webinar, we get to hang out in our private Facebook group, while the excitement is still running high, and people make the changes they were dreaming of. After the replay, it’s like a fizzling firework at a rainy Guy Fawkes party. People want to get excited, but the group-vibe isn’t there any more.
The sense of scarcity and action-taking urgency created by a live webinar is invaluable – for you and for the attendees.
Live webinars inspire people to commit to their crazy dreams in a way the replays may never manage. [Click to Tweet]
4. People Aren’t As Committed To Replay-Watching
Confession time: I have lost count of the number of brilliant webinars I fully intended to watch, but never got round to.
When it’s live, it gets in my diary, and if I’m really interested in the topic, I’ll clear out the time. If it’s a replay, it goes on my subconscious ‘mañana-list’ – I’ll watch it tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes.
If someone really wants to do something, they’ll find a way. If they don’t, they’ll find an excuse. The same goes for watching your webinar… [Click to Tweet]
People who tell you they’re too busy to show up live may have a genuine reason – in which case I’d always share the replay with them. After all, they’ve been keen enough to contact me to ask for the replay.
But people who are just ‘too busy’ most likely won’t watch the replay, either. The bottom line is that if the topic I’m teaching that month excites them, they’ll get it in their diary and move other commitments, so they can show up. And they’ll be much more likely to take action.
5. People Don’t Engage With The Replay As Much As The Live Version
Here are some stats from recent webinars I have run. As you’ll see, for the live version, I have a fantastic ‘retention rate’, meaning nearly everyone stays for the full masterclass. That’s typically an hour. I’m really happy with that.
Then look at the replay stats – typically less than a quarter of those who registered, but didn’t make it live, actually watch the replay. And see how many people dropped off early? Most of them. Identical webinars – the same stuff that kept the live attendees engaged and loving it – but for the replay most people are ducking out, before the juicy bits, so they’re not gaining much benefit from the masterclass. 🙁
Here’s a typical indicator of how long people stick around, for live vs the replay:
Also, if I’m running a masterclass that has an offer in it, I get at least 10+ times as many people taking up that offer from the live event, compared to the replay. That’ll be partly because people aren’t sticking around, but also partly because the ‘live’ excitement and desire to take action isn’t there.
Also, those who don’t show up live tend to be less committed to or interested in what I’m talking about in that masterclass – or less ready to take action to make the change.
Bonus Tip: Please Don’t Be A Fraud!
I have nothing against the current trend for ‘evergreen’ webinars. But it drives me CRAZY that so many big names are pretending they’re live.
I have this seventh sense – I’ve had it since I was a kid – where I could always tell if a radio show were live or pre-recorded. Somehow it just feels different. The same applies to webinars.
If it’s pre-recorded, be honest and say so. Big it up with phrases like ‘instant access’ and ‘you don’t have to wait to watch this’ and ‘it’s all yours, right now – shall we dive in?’
If you want someone to work with you, to co-create whatever transformation or experience you offer, the absolute foundation needs to be trust. If you can ‘lie’ (alright, ‘mislead’, if ‘lie’ offends you 😉 ) about being live with someone on a masterclass, how can they trust you to be honest, authentic and truthful in the rest of your business dealings?
What Can You Do?
It’s up to you whether or not you want to run a replay.
Yes, I have found that offering a time-limited replay DOES increase the number of people who register. BUT it also reduces the percentage who show up live – and lots of people never get round to watching it at all.
Webinar Wisdom: if I’m offering some of my best teaching for free, I want to make sure the ‘room’ is full of people who are hungry for it, rather than window-shoppers. [Click to Tweet]
That way the masterclass will be a better quality, more fun, more engaging, more relevant and more transformational.
I’m not ditching replays entirely. If someone contacts me and has a genuine reason why they can’t attend live, I’d consider giving them short-term access to the replay.
But from now on, my main monthly masterclass will be live-only, apart from for my Academy members, who get VIP access, complete with downloads and transcripts, plus other bonuses.
Want Some Help?
Want to know my top 10 tips for getting more people to show up live, even if you’re offering a replay? And a swipe file of potential email messages and sign-up copy, to get them hungry to clear out their diary to join you?
That’s just one of the many gems, insider secrets and failsafe strategies I share on the Rock Your Webinars programme. Want to be the first to know when doors open for the next round?
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I’d love to share these with you.
I’m Curious: Where Do You Stand On This?
I’d love to hear from you on this:
- What are your thoughts on what I’ve covered in this article? Are you cheering along with me, or waiting to lob rotten tomatoes?
- How might you encourage more people to show up live, when you’re live streaming or running webinars?
- And what are your big webinar questions?
Let me know, via the comments box.
I hope this has helped. If yes, please share it far and wide, via the usual social media channels. It would be great if it could reach as many people as possible.
With love, Namaste,
Author Of Dare To Dream Bigger: The ‘Inside Work’ Handbook For Entrepreneurs And Passionate World-Changers