20 February 2023


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Problem: You have information that you want to disseminate to a large group of developers and/or customers, so you want to maximize reach, but the information is complex enough or intricate enough that it feels like having an "in-person" experience will help get the information across most easily. However, you don't want to sacrifice all the interactivity, and want to have at least a little feedback from your audience.

Context: This may be a part of your company's sales cycle or something done to try and draw potential customers into the "top of the funnel" (as the Marketing types say). As a result, you want your presentation to be more formal and "professional", similar to what might be seen in a more formal setting. It may be desirable to hold this presentation private to a particular customer, or group of closely-related customers (such as in a particular business domain your product/service is attempting to support or break into).

Solution: Hold a live "webinar", an online presentation by one of your DevRel team (or perhaps one of your Ambassadors) at a scheduled time. Prepare a presentation topic, with or without demos as desired, and optionall record it for later viewing on a video platform such as Youtube.

Consequences: Scheduling the webinar for a time that is most conducive to your target audience is critical; alternatively, consider scheduling the webinar multiple times, at times that are friendly to a particular segment of your audience (noon Central European time for your European customers, then noon Central Standard Time for US developers, for example).

Webinar presentations are often very similar to a Conference Session or a presentation given to one of your User Group Network, and usually materials from one can be used here and vice versa. Keep in mind that no matter where the material is used, it takes time and practice before a presenter is "smooth" delivering the material, so consider holding the same webinar several times in order to get the material to a point of confident delivery.

Interactivity over a webinar is often not great, limited to questions through the "chat" functionality of most videoconferencing platforms. More recently, platforms have provided options for participants to signal using "gestures" (hand raised, thumbs-up, thumbs-down, etc), but these usually imply that the participant is a full participant, and can voice questions; this may be undesirable for a webinar since you generally have little to no control over who can sign up for the presentation. (During the pandemic several stories of "Zoom bombing" made the headlines, in which public Zoom presentations were "crashed" by individuals who would shout or display offensive things to the participants before they could be booted.) You may prefer to use a platform with a little less interactivity options for your audience.

Webinars are generally more conceptual in nature, and often make for a strong tactic as part of the sales funnel or Customer Pre-Sale Meeting. While nothing prevents the creation of a webinar that pairs well with, say, a Guide, historically these are rare.

Keep in mind that most low-interactivity high-reach activities are often consumed by developers without their full attention. (This is part of the problem with most online Training, unfortunately.) The webinar is therefore not the best place to put high-detail information such as lists of configuration settings or syntax; that may be better to capture in Reference Documentation and then, during the webinar, point to the location in the docs.


Tags: devrel   patterns