One Big Reason Webinars Suck


Story by Bryan Alexander, Bryan Alexander

My question for today is:

Why are so many webinars so bad?

I’ve been thinking and working on this question since the 1990s (he typed, wiping a furrowed brow and gazing at grey hairs). I remember working with facilitators, technologists, and fellow professors then as we sought to make live video events work. That’s when I got into virtual worlds, actually, way before Second Life, as an alternative to video. Later, I launched the Future Trends Forum in 2016 in part to try to improve webinars, at least in the higher education space. I’ve blogged about the topic repeatedly (for examples).

I’m moved to write now, again, because I keep having to endure crappy webinars. What surprises me is that in the year 2023 so many videoconferences are still so lousy. We’ve had not years but decades to get better. Worse, we had years of COVID-19 which drove us all into live video for months, even years, like it or not. We’ve practiced, learned, experimented, and practiced again. And despite all of that, the experience of firing up Zoom, Teams, etc. can still be depressingly bad.

I think a lot of factors go into this, and will say more about those later, but today wanted to focus on one single, big, overarching reason. Too many webinar organizers don’t take audiences seriously.

I don’t mean the video quality is poor or content is bad. That can happen, of course. Instead, what I mean is that too many webinars are designed in ways that show they don’t care for participants. And webinars stink, on ice, because we in the audience get the signal loud and clear.

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