Corporate Eye

Notes from a Disappointing Webinar

I can’t figure this one out.  I attended a webinar featuring a panel of people who ought to have been interesting, talking about a topic that ought to have been interesting.  I came away with nothing.

Couldn’t tell you what it was supposed to be about.  Can’t imagine what they thought they were communicating.  Have to wonder whether I’m just dense, or whether other attendees felt the same way.

Here are some observations prompted by the experience, along with some points of relevance for Careers and the corporate website:

1. The whole webinar concept was really popular for a while, but has somewhat petered out.  That may be because most of them were not very good.

Which is a reminder that executing well is the key to success.  Doing the “latest thing” has little value if you don’t do it well.  (Let’s think Twitter . . . )

2. Speaking of execution, presenters should never read out loud what is on the slides.  NEVER.  Doesn’t everyone know that by now?  (Actually this point isn’t really relevant, but I just had to say it.)

3. People with alluring resumes don’t necessarily make good panelists.  In fact they may be too charmed with themselves to bother about the audience.

Which is a reminder to focus on substance first, style second.  Ideally the two go together, but the order of priority is important.

4. If there’s a purpose for getting panelists together, you shouldn’t need to spend time on ice-breaker questions.  (“How many of you have . . . ?”)  Take off fast with crisp, specific questions that draw out the panel’s expertise!

Which is a reminder that the Careers home page should be sharp and engaging, not just a landscape of illustrated links.

5. Even if the audience is sitting at their desks, probably multi-tasking while you’re talking, they’ve bothered to show up, so they deserve the best show you can put on.  (By golly!)

Which is a reminder that every visitor to the Careers site should go away feeling they got something worthwhile.  Every single one.

6. Although it’s the right strategy to educate rather than sell in a webinar—you still need to provide some kind of value proposition.  Don’t expect the audience to search out their own meaning from an hour of random chat.

Which is a reminder to provide a clear message about the employer brand, not just an aura of implication.  There’s a lot of territory between “heavy-handed” and “terminally vague,” so find a good spot somewhere in the middle.

That’s a wrap!  Thanks for listening.

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.