An Open Letter To Webinar Presenters: Notes From An Ex-Teacher

Real Estate Agent with The Maine Real Estate Network

Webinar presenters

Note:  The following open letter is my reaction to a couple of recent frustrating and off-putting webinars.  I'm sure we've all been there a few times.

Dear Webinar Presenter,

First, I would like to thank you for sharing your knowledge.  I totally understand you may have a product or service to sell and I am totally fine with listening to your spiel in exchange for the free information you are sharing.  Who knows, I may find your information so valuable that I choose to buy what you are offering in order to get more.  If you are hoping to increase your results, here are a few pointers from an ex-teacher to help you along the way.

Teaching Adults Is A Lot Like Teaching Kindergartners:
This is not a slam against adults.  The reasons are different, but the outcome is the same.  If you want to teach 5 year olds, you need to attract and hold their attention.  Older children have been in school long enough to know they are expected to just sit and listen.  Adults have lived long enough to decide what they will and will not spend their time listening to.  Therefore, you need to attract, and hold their attention.

Get To The Point:
A little background about the presenter is wonderful and helps to set the validity of that person’s authority on the subject.  (i.e. giving us more reason to listen to what they say)  However, when you drone on for the first fifteen minutes, you start to loose us.  After the quick pleasantries, please jump right into the content.  If you start trying to sell your service or product at this point, our spammy salesman/woman red flag goes up.

STOP With The 20 (or 100) Questions!
I sense that you are enjoying your new toy -  being able to see comments in real time, but when you ask a gazillion questions, you are wasting time and detracting from the content.  You were probably told that teachers ask questions to increase engagement.  Here is the rest of the story.
Teachers ask questions for a few different reasons.

  • They may ask a question to see if people are paying attention.  However, you are not in an elementary school classroom, and we do not need to be tested.  If you want us to pay attention, provide great content and we will busily take notes (which means it is harder to type answers to your questions.)
  • They may ask questions to check for understanding.  This can be helpful, but when overused, it is annoying (trust me on this one.)  When teachers do this, they do it so that they can adjust their teaching style and content, not to show off how much they know.  Questions that only have one correct answer are not really helpful and result in less participation.  Adults will tend to opt out of answering for fear of answering incorrectly.
  • They may ask questions to provoke deeper thought.  Open ended questions can help the listener to ponder the topic and broaden their ideas.  These can also be helpful and you may even get some ideas from the responses.  However, you need to be careful with these as well, since they can lead you off topic.

Yelling Does Not Equal Passion:
We love to listen to folks who sound passionate about what they do.  However, just raising your voice or out and out yelling does not endear you to us.  While we are at it, if you spend a large percentage of your time criticizing or putting people down, you are not helping yourself.  You don’t have to be artificially cheery, but if you set a negative tone, you will most likely get negative results.

Show Us Something:
Take a little time to prepare those slides that go along with your webinar.  The best webinar presenters have slides that show us something interesting (and keep us from checking facebook while we listen.) You don’t need to have a million slides containing every word you speak (please don’t,) but the visuals really help to keep us engaged.

Give And Ye Shall Receive:
Yes, when you share valuable content that people can use immediately without having to buy your product, you will increase your sales.  People are bombarded with information.  If yours stands out in the crowd, they will view you as the expert that you are.  They will appreciate what you have freely shared, and be left wanting more.  Those without the means will still rave about you, and those with the means are more likely to take you up on your offer. Disparaging those who in your view are too silly to buy your product will not help you to win over more customers.

So there you have it.  I hope these pointers are helpful and you receive them in the spirit they were intended.  We do not expect perfection and can appreciate how difficult it is, and the practice it may take, to become an awesome webinar presenter.  More power to you!


Kristen Wheatley
Current Realtor® and former Kindergarten Teacher (many moons ago)

Another Note:  I have purposely refrained from naming individual presenters and have no desire to get into a cyber bashing of particular people.  I prefer to default to the thought that they honestly know not what they do and just wanted to offer some handy tips.

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The Maine Real Estate Network - Kristen Wheatley - Lewiston-Auburn Maine Real Estate

Maine Realtor Kristen Wheatley  

Kristen Wheatley is a Maine Realtor working and living in Central Maine.  She specializes in the sale of residential and investment property in the Lewiston-Auburn area and surrounding towns.  Kristen uses the latest tools and mobile technology to provide a superior experience and results for her clients and enjoys sharing these technology skills and teaching other real estate professionals and local small business owners.

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34 Center Street - Auburn ME 04210

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Mark Loewenberg 12/09/2012 07:58 PM
  2. Praful Thakkar 12/09/2012 10:29 PM
Real Estate Best Practices
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Gregory Bain
Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance - Little Egg Harbor, NJ

I've been on several webinars and learned a thing or two - so, thanks to those that took the time. But, if you want me to visit a new webinar it has to be connected to the the subject I need to learn at the time or be approved for continued education credits. Heck, I'll even pay a fee for the later.

Dec 08, 2012 07:40 AM #36
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
Broker/Owner Veritas Prime, Candlewood Lake Area

I have found most webinars useful. There was only one where I was hoping to learn more about short sales, but it turned out to be a plug for the servicing company... At the end of the day, it's an opt in/opt out situation - we can always switch it off if it's not to our liking. 

Dec 08, 2012 08:43 AM #37
Kristen Wheatley
The Maine Real Estate Network - Auburn, ME
Lewiston/Auburn Maine Real Estate Agent

Thank you Tanya.  I hear what you are saying.  That is why I say it rarely works.  There are a few people who know it cold like you mention and are skilled at still delivering information in a logic fashion.  I'm not keen on scripts either, but at least a framework of how the content will be delivered.  For some, a script really helps them with that.  For others, the stick to it word for word and it can come across in an awkward manner.

Thanks Brian.

I hear you Joanna.  I don't go on that many for many of those reasons.  I much prefer to read about things.  When I'm considering buying a product, the webinars can be quite telling about how the product and any related customer service issues may go.  If the presenter can't handle questions or gets irritated, that tells me a lot.

Hello Karen Anne!  True, I do love teaching and fortunately, I get to do it here at my agency and with a local real estate education group.  I've always felt a strong kinship with junior high school teachers.  IMO 7th grade is a lot like kindergarten, in regards to how easily distracted the kids can get.  The 7th graders have so many new social things running through their heads, that it presents unique challenges for those teachers.  And I LOVE your last statement.  Many teachers are great "doers," but only some "doers" are great teachers.  I think they could be though...with a few tweaks.  :-)  Some people make the mistake of thinking that the teaching part will be easy.

That is a great one Juli!  When I log on and they are not there, I assume I have clicked the wrong link or done something wrong.  Very frustrating.  That is exactly how I felt on the last webinar that prompted this.  It was almost a morbid curiosity to see how long it would go on and if he would change his tone.

Glad to hear it Pete.

Agreed Nick.  I think it can be tempting for some to hop on to too many webinars and spend way too much time on them instead of just doing what we need to do.  If something really intrigues me, I'll hop on, but if they don't impress me in the first 15 minutes, I'm leaving.

Thanks Cheryl

Thank you Christina.   I don't really believe they will read my little blog, but I feel better having gotten it out. :-)

I agree Praful.  Not all questions are bad, and the little real time comment feature can be a handy tool for the presenter.  Some just seem to go bonkers with it.  The last one I was on was nothing more than a barrage of questions and if people didn't answer quickly enough or with the answer he wanted, he berated them and started yelling.  He also asked one questions backwards of what I believe he intended.  Everyone answered correctly and then he spent 5 minutes telling everyone how little they knew and how much he knew and told them they were all wrong.

Exactly Christine.  Since they can't see us, they need to assume we are not interested in the 15 minute version of their qualifications.

#30 - Bye Bye.  We are not that keen on spam on this site.


Dec 08, 2012 08:51 AM #38
Kristen Wheatley
The Maine Real Estate Network - Auburn, ME
Lewiston/Auburn Maine Real Estate Agent

You are right Charita, he really did.  For me the worst part was that it was an evening webinar and I gave up some time with my son to attend it.

Yes Fernando!  And if they are marketing to Realtors, they should know that.  :-)

I hear ya Christiansen Team.

You are so right Michael!  They remind me of those teachers who just sit there and read the text book to the students.  Those are the ones that really may need a script.  Keep the slides to bullet points and then tell us more.

Thanks Richie.  Yes.  Some of them are great at it.

That is a really great point Janis.  There is nothing more frustrating than not understanding something and having someone sit there and tell you how easy they think it is.

Gregory:  So true. 

Dec 08, 2012 08:58 AM #39
Debbe Perry
Real Living Carolina Property - Morganton, NC
828.439.3084 Morganton/Lake James NC

I couldn't agree with you more! My time for webinars is limited, and I want the speaker to get to the point, and get finished, I don't believe the webinar is suitable for "filling up time' - I won't care if we finish early as long as I get what I came for. Thanks for your well-thought-out post!

Dec 08, 2012 09:48 AM #40
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Kristen- very good especially "Adults have lived long enough to decide what they will and will not listen to. "  I appreciate their efforts but a little streamlining and some slides would help. 

Dec 08, 2012 11:55 AM #41
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Kristen- excellent post! If they didn't get my attention the first 15 mintues, I'm most likely gone!!

Dec 08, 2012 01:51 PM #42
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% o... - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

When they drone on for 15 mins. they start to loose us.  They've lost me in the first minute if they drone on.  It's like an elevator speech, pitch it in the time it takes to ride up to the top floor on an elevator.  If you didn't grab my attention by then, I'm not listening, I'm not buying it, I've clicked away.

Dec 08, 2012 02:39 PM #43
Suzanne McLaughlin
Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael) - Saint Michael, MN
Sabinske & Associates, Realtor

Thank Goodness this was featured, Kristen.  I have sat through Who Knows How Many Webinars bored out of my skull with three screens open trying to catch one word of wisdom. 

If all you are going to do is try to sell me something, without giving me anything I can relate to, I will always blow you off because apparently that is what you are doing to me.  And, I won't be back....EVER!

Dec 08, 2012 03:45 PM #44
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Homes

I wish I knew who you were talking about but I'm sure I've lived thru this webinar recently. Another suggestion would be to practice their presentation & RECORD it so that they see how they sound. Or, maybe they don't care!

Dec 08, 2012 05:48 PM #45
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Dec 08, 2012 06:01 PM #46
Kristen Wheatley
The Maine Real Estate Network - Auburn, ME
Lewiston/Auburn Maine Real Estate Agent

Yes Debbe!  The guy on this last one said at the very beginning that he was going to run way over (that should have been my cue to leave)...asserting that he had sooooo much information to cover.  When in reality he just had a habit of wasting time.  I too would be totally fine with it ending early when everything is covered well.

Thanks for the feature Kathy!

I'm with you was sheer morbid curiosity that kept me on.  I think I was just in shock over his behavior.  :-)

Awesome policy Carla!  I'm adopting that one from now on.  :-)

You make a great point Suzanne.  They not only loose us for the moment, but they've really blown any chance of us listening to the (or their products) again.

I love the practice and record bit Lyn.  That might save them (and us) from a lot of headaches.


Dec 08, 2012 06:09 PM #47
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Kristen, very well said.  This actually goes for seminars too.  I went to one this week where the speaker knew some of the participants and he continually referred to personal things they knew and the rest of the class did not.  It was a waist of time.  I love learning, but I get annoyed when it's obvious that a few select participants have a secret handshake with the instructor and they keep rubbing your nose in it.  It didn't add anything to the time, and quite frankly distracted everyone else.  Stand up, speak up, shut up and sit down.

Dec 09, 2012 05:15 AM #48
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors - Austin, TX
Realtor-Canyon Creek- NW, Austin TX Homes For Sale

Good morning Kristen,

I came over from Kathy's post this morning on her Ah-ha moments for the week! How did I miss this?? I couldn't agree with you more!! Excellent post!

Dec 09, 2012 06:07 AM #49
Kristin Johnston, Waukesha Realtor 414-254-6647
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Waukesha County Realtor, RE/MAX Buyer Agent

I saw this on Kathys weekly summary wrap up post and I am glad I stopped over...thanks and have a good day!

Dec 09, 2012 07:06 AM #50
Fred Sed
Orange County Short Sale Foreclosure Realtor - Irvine, CA
Your Orange County Realtor, Why? Because Fred Sed

Great post Kristen!


Let me also add the bait & switch to it too. I don't know how many webinars I've been on in the last couple months that I've wondered why I'm here. I then look back to the registration and the webinar isn't even remotely close to the topic I signed up to listen to. Unfortunately for the company, it turns me off to any future presentations because they lost my trust because I consider my time very valuable and don't want to be subjected to being misled again.

Dec 09, 2012 03:40 PM #51
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. "Said and Done!" - Merrick, NY
Long Island's South Shore Real Estate Agent

I like webinars well enough but I appreciate it when they are kept to 30 minutes or so. If they go on too long, I usually leave early.

Dec 09, 2012 05:19 PM #52
Michelle Carr-Crowe-Selling Silicon Valley Homes in Top Schools San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga, Palo Alto-Just Call 408-252-8900
Just Call (408) 252-8900! - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

That is so true! Were you listening to the same webinar I listened to this week?

Dec 09, 2012 10:50 PM #53
Kristen Wheatley
The Maine Real Estate Network - Auburn, ME
Lewiston/Auburn Maine Real Estate Agent

Mike:  I can see where that would be annoying as well.

Thanks Dorie and Kristin!

So true Fred!  They really aren't helping themselves either and they are just annoying their audience.

I hear you Jill.  I am much more likely to be able to listen for 30 minutes.

I may have been Michelle.  :-)

Dec 10, 2012 06:17 AM #54
Diane M. Phillips
Frankly Real Estate Inc. - Manchester, MD
Realtor 443-286-4365

Kristen ~ I wish this post could be mandatory reading for webinar/seminar creators!

Dec 10, 2012 07:55 AM #55
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