16 Things Comedians Can Teach Us about Creating Killer Webinars

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Do you have 10,000 hours to spend prepping for your webinar?

According to best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a skill.

Yikes. Most of us don’t have that amount of spare time knocking around. And waiting until your golden years to master a specific skill that you need now probably isn’t preferable either.

Lucky for you, we’ve pulled together top tips from the Kings and Queens of comedy to help you out.

Comedians know how to gather a huge audience every time, deliver gold, and have them begging for more.

Exactly what we want with our webinars, right?

Well, it turns out that the methods and mindsets of top comedians hold many valuable lessons you can use to take your webinar marketing to success and stardom. Let’s have a look:

1. Let the audience tell you the topic!

Good comedy is relentless testing. You can’t tell the audience what’s funny. They tell you by turning up, or not. By laughing, or not.

Give your webinar the same focus. Maybe not to make them laugh. But smiles I think we can aim for. And they will tell you how to do it.

When choosing the topic, ask your target audience. Ask your list, your clients, your prospects. Don’t choose for them. Find out their biggest problem – the one they lost sleep over last night. Then stay specific, and deal with that problem and nothing else.

If no one is interested in your webinar, you’ve got the wrong topic. If you only hear wind and bales of tumbleweed blowing through your webinar, you’ve got the wrong topic.

Keep asking until you have a killer subject that makes them grin from ear to ear.

2. Break the ice…but do it creatively

Don’t put a joke out there that bores you. If it bores you to tell it, you can bet it will bore your audience to hear it
~ Sal Callani

“Three men walk into a bar”…No. No. Please, no. There are way better ice breakers than a cringe joke. The point is to relax your participants, not put them through the inconvenience of fake-laughing.

There are a few tricks you need to know:

– Keep it relevant to the webinar. There’s no use regaling them with a ‘witty’ back and forth you had with a parking inspector. It’s off-topic and you need to keep everyone focused on the content you’re delivering.

– Don’t expect full-blown laughter. The aim is to make it fun, rather than funny. The ice breaker is just a little teaser to get the audience engaged.

– Do a poll. On most webinar platforms it’s easy to participants to take part in a super quick poll. It’s a great way to engage people because they have to reflect on their own thoughts. This is the the stand-up comedian equivalent of ‘asking the audience’.

If you try and force a joke it will hang around like a bad smell throughout the rest of the presentation. Keep it relaxed and they will relax.

3. Start now, learn from failure

Look to the future, because that’s where you’ll spend the rest of your life.
~ George Burns

If you’re procrastinating on that first webinar, just begin. Start bad, get better. Take a deep breath and dive on in.

You can learn so much from the experience, and then begin your next one. No one comes out the gate with perfect webinars, or perfect anything.

So take George’s advice and look to the future, there’s no point dwelling in the past of a webinar gone wrong. Look on the bright side – your first webinar will teach you so much more than anything else possibly could.

You’ll come out of it with real experience of how to build your presentation skills.

4. Be real

As a creator, it’s your job to make an audience as excited and fascinated about a subject as you are, and real life tends to do that.
~ Ricky Gervais

Comedians at the top of their game, like Ricky, always come across as fresh and honest. Their views have to be brutally honest. That’s what they do. They say it like it is.

When you’re doing webinars, always be the straight-talker. Everyone loves that guy!

Be real and expressive, draw from your real life experiences in your own way, as you would be with friends (minus the bad language).

Audiences crave honest and direct people. Give honesty and they’ll come back begging for more.

5. Screen your jokes

Presentations have an extra advantage over most traditional standup sets–a giant friggin’ screen that the audience is staring at the whole time you’re onstage
~ Sammy Wegent

Think funny photoshopped images, GIFs, memes to enhance your point. We’ve got a whole internet of hilarious imagery at our disposal – use it.

Visual imagery has never been funnier and is a great way to engage participants. It’s also a handy diversion and takes the heat off you for a moment!

6. Tell stories

No one weaves a masterful story like Dave Chappelle.

Stories draw us in, entertain and punch lessons home. A good webinar should have many stories. See if you can think of one to introduce every lesson you cover; either something that happened to you, your company, a client, or an inspiring real-life character.

Nothing helps the reader identify and trust you faster than a story, where you share their exact problem, and then work your way out of it (using the lessons you’re about to teach them). Make sure both you and your guest speaker has a great story to introduce themselves with (a true one, of course).

7. Stay on top of the tools

Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle.
~ Woody Allen

It’s going to serve you well to keep on top of all the latest webinar tools and techniques, and learn to use them to your advantage. Here are a couple of webinar tools to get you started:

ClickMeeting for a one-stop shop webinar sales, emailing, marketing, and presentation system. It has a very user-friendly interface that looks great to your attendees too. Allows you to easily customize your waiting room and webinar room with a few finger clicks, for a fully-branded and very pleasant experience (and if you know me, you know how much I love branding!)

Google Hangouts you already know, I’m sure. Free, easy to use with a plugin for your browser. A good place to start because it’s so well-known, but a tad glitchy and lacking in full webinar functionalities. Lacks the professional veneer you can create with Click Meeting or other similar tools.

8. Pay attention to your timing

As a seasoned performer and TV host, Ellen DeGeneres is an expert in keeping time, as you can see.

Comedy is all about timing. Webinars are too. Audiences hate it when you ramble. Respect their time and they’ll stay until the end and come to your next one too.

Keep your timing tight. As always it starts with planning, and having a killer topic. Feel like you’re rambling? Put a lid on it! And move onto the next part.

9. Have a purpose and stick to it

Writing comedy isn’t really about writing; it’s more about editing. It’s about what you don’t say. What are the fewest words I can get down here in order to get to the funny bit?
~ Jimmy Carr

Jimmy’s purpose is clear – ‘get to the funny bit’ and make people laugh. Determine your purpose before the webinar; is it to make sales? Gain followers? Educate as many people as possible? Make your audience smile until the top of their heads falls off?

Holding your purpose in mind will make sure you don’t waste time as well. It will get them to the end of the webinar. It will basically make your webinars work. This could be tip number one, it’s that important.

10. Close strong

Comedians save their best joke ‘til last. They finish on a big laugh, so that’s the feeling the audience takes away and remembers them by. It’s just the way our brains work – we recall how we felt at the last minute!

Take the same attitude to your webinars.

Prepare a big treat for the end, and tell your listeners at the start that it’s coming, so they had best stay with you. And if you’re going to sell something at the end, make sure you sell it well. Close strong. Close like a boss.

11. Practice, practice, practice

Persistence is a great substitute for talent.
~ Steve Martin

A comedy legend like Steve Martin is used to being put on the spot and doing rehearsed movies, stand-up and scripted shows to name a few.

Refining your script is key, so practice your webinar as many times as you can. Practice in front of your team. Practice in front of your mother. Practice in front of your dog.

You cannot practice it too much.

12. Promote intelligently

Comedians are often masterful promoters. They really build anticipation for their tours and specials, making fans salivate with anticipation.

And this is perhaps the most important skill in webinar success. It’s like the old riddle; if a marketer holds a webinar in a wood, does it make any money?

No! It does not.

Learn to promote like the greatest comedians. Check out this post for some awesome ways to do this; 17 ways to get people to show up.

13. Don’t try to please everybody; you don’t need to

Some people won’t turn up and some people who do turn up won’t stay until the end. It’s always that way.

Don’t let it get you down.

Instead, expect it as part and parcel of the webinar game.

Expect as low as a 25% attendance rate and only focus on those who love you. That’s the key. Find the 20% who give you 80% of your business. Focus on finding and building that core group of loyal fans, who come back webinar after webinar after webinar. They are your bread and butter. There’s no need at all to please everybody.

14. Choose the right time / day of the week

Comedians do shows when people are ready to laugh. He doesn’t do them on Monday morning. Pick a time and day for your webinar, when people are ready to listen, learn and (perhaps even) buy.

You can test and tweak over time. You’ll soon find out what works for your audience. Here are a couple of findings on optimal timing from this Brafton post analyzing the results of data from 9,300 webinars.

Midweek works best; Wednesday or Thursday. 11am is the best time to accommodate the most time zones. Or so they say…

Try it and find out!

15. Join forces

Think Flight of the Conchords. Morecambe and Wise. Mitchell and Webb. The comedy scene is full of duos that bounce off each other with hilarious results.

Find other people doing webinars with audiences who may be interested in your service. Yes, that includes direct competitors!

The fastest way to get new audiences is to join forces and do webinars with others. Trust me, they want to present to your audience too. And the best thing about being in that community is the inspiration and motivation you will get from it (let alone all the extra traffic these collaborators will send your way). We’re social creatures. So get out there and start scratching backs!

This is just one of many ways you can harness the power of influencer marketing. I can’t describe how powerful it is.

16. Always try to improve

There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
~ Steven Wright

Like Steven, never stop learning! Study, study, study. Here are three more great guides to set you on that ever-learning road to webinar mastery;

How to set up and promote your first webinar, by Hubspot

Ten things that take a webinar from good to great, by Hubspot

Twenty tips for producing way better webinars, by Copyblogger

Ten steps for planning your webinar, by Techsoup

Now, go get ‘em tiger!

Let me know how your next webinar goes.

Love you,

Konrad x

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About the author

Konrad Sanders CEO & Lead Strategist at The Creative Copywriter
Hey you. I’m Konrad. A full-funnel content strategist and CEO with a pretty darn creative noggin on my shoulders. I run a team of word-slinging cowboys and strategists who blend science with art to help bold brands get their words right at every step of the customer journey. Which means? They sell more stuff and grow predictable revenue. Brands like AECOM, Thomson Reuters, TikTok, Panasonic, Adidas, Mercedes-Benz, plus shedloads of tech scale-ups...and you? Let's connect.

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