Steve Herbert
10 Apr

An empty event room or webinar is a missed opportunity to make some positive noise.

Many are familiar with that famous philosophical question:

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?” 

This is a question that passed briefly through my mind as I navigated my way past some fallen branches – presumably felled by the high winds overnight – on my morning dog walk yesterday.

Scientifically speaking a noise was made as they fell, but if no one witnessed it that noise went unheard. 

And that is exactly the challenge that so many business presentations face on an almost daily basis. Let me explain.

The seedling

Your Board, Sales Director, or Marketing Team has a shiny new concept or product to sell, and someone comes up with the bright idea of a promotional workshop, webinar, or seminar to spread the good news to the masses who will (of course) be both willing and eager to snap up your new offering just as soon as they hear about it. 

The event date is selected (usually at random, and without any great thought or planning), speakers are identified (often based on hierarchy rather than presenting ability), and a rather routine event invite is built and posted on social media.  

All this is done with the expectation of an imminent rush of registrations for the event, a genuinely great presentation on the day, and a pot of new business gold awaiting your business at the end of the awareness rainbow. 

Yet the seeds of disaster are already growing. 

Growing pains

The already rather dull invite is issued on a day or time when the audience is largely offline, and the event date selected clashes with the holiday season or another major industry event. As a result, there are disappointingly few acceptances received.     

The nominated speaker has not left enough time to prepare a decent slide deck, and no time at all for rehearsals, so the final delivery will lack the punch it needs to convince and compel.

And, most importantly...

No one individual had been nominated to take ownership of the event and ensure that it is populated, professional, and polished. It follows that by the time the potential disaster is visible to everyone in the organising team, the event date is too close to allow for cancellation or postponement, and it is likewise too late to significantly improve the rapidly diminishing chances of success. 

Falling down

In the end, the event room (be that physical or virtual) is empty of all but a handful of already close clients, colleagues, clingers-on, and perhaps even a sneaky competitor or two.

Even if the message delivered is a compelling one (which is unlikely given the now routine slide deck and unrehearsed speaker), there is virtually no one there to hear it. Simply put, the tree has fallen, and yet no noise was heard. 

All that expended enthusiasm, work, and expense has resulted in a zero return on investment, possibly a little damage to the reputation of the sponsoring business, and dented the career prospects for at least some of those associated with the original decision to stage the event. 

The root of the problem

Yet the irony is that most – if not all – of the above mistakes could and should have been easily avoided.  

For a good event is nearly always the product of detailed planning and preparation.  The above assertion is based on experience. My events have delivered consistent and continued success over more than 20 years, and that continued period of success owes much to identifying common mistakes and ensuring that they are avoided at the planning stage.    

The result? Before the arrival of Covid-19, I could fill a 200-seater room with just one targeted email, and since the pandemic, I have reached even larger audiences via compelling and interesting webinars. Indeed, last year I was receiving 450+ employer registrations per event.  

The above registration figure is around 10 x the industry average attendance, and 100 x the acceptances of the very worst events. 

A return to growth

The good news is that your business does not have to learn all the possible event mistakes the hard way.  

My Webinars that Work consultancy service will help you avoid potential pitfalls and deliver a well-attended, compelling, and productive event for just a small hourly fee. 

And should your nominated presenter need support, then my approach to Presentation Skills Coaching can make the difference between a dismal and dynamic delivery, or indeed I can act as a Keynote Speaker to provide the final polish and impact that any successful event ultimately needs. 

My publicly available testimonials are compelling evidence of events that really work. And it should be remembered that a good or great event provides plenty of positives, including heightened brand awareness, improved client retention, and (of course) new business opportunities and income. 

Check out the “Services” page of my website, or make contact with me for more information on how I can help your company deliver both an audience and an event that the attendees will value, and how you can build both a long-term audience and genuine new business pipeline at the same time. 

Until next time. 

Best regards 


Steve Herbert 

Communications & Presentation Skills Coach + Employee Benefits, Wellbeing, and Reward Expert

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