Case Study: How we used STORYTELLING to Create a Webinar with 90.3% Engagement Rate

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.

The Backstory to the Future of Work Webinar

When the Singapore Institute of Management approached our team at Pikkal to help cocreate a new webinar series for their education platform, I was both excited and anxious.

Excited because here was an opportunity to do great work with a premium brand in Asia.

Anxious because everybody was doing webinars now… this was March 2020 and the global lockdown was kicking in.

Every second Linkedin status update in your feed started with those immortal words, “You are invited to join…” March 2020 was an era of webinar spam, of attention-stretched audiences and countless tales of webinars that felt like sitting in a lecture room with your boring old college prof, or tech platform disasters, or the moderator who delivers that eye-rolling line, “same question but to my next panellist.”

Webinars aren’t easy.

The Problem with Webinars Today

Especially here in Singapore, with an audience who tend to not ask a lot of questions, with an offline event market where “important people” are expected to deliver 60 slide festivals of bullet points on PowerPoint.

Just to make the project brief even harder, SIM’s Webinars would need to average 250-300 people. Our challenge of engagement would be doubly hard. And if that wasn’t hard enough, they wanted a 6 part series. This wasn’t a one-off, they wanted to attendees to keep coming back for more!

So when we created The Future of Work Webinar Series our number one goal was working with SIM to create an overarching narrative.

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Sure, you could easily present this series as “education content” aimed at senior managers and business leaders.

But it isn’t. It’s far more important than that. You’re talking about people’s careers, relationships, identities, livelihoods, families, hopes, fears. It’s a transformation; it’s a journey.

Future of Work Webinar guests came from all different backgrounds: Apple, Intel, Autodesk, Universal World Studios, Xero, Standard Chartered Bank, The Singaporean Government and SIM themselves.

Creating the Webinar Series Narrative

For each and every session we mapped out a Storyboard with the hosts & guests beforehand. These Storyboard sessions help panellists craft a cohesive narrative and “key talking points”. All those boring webinars and events you sat through, where panellists resorted to “pitch mode” or point scoring, were the result of the webinar manager not creating an overarching narrative. They were the result of a webinar manager who was trying to create an “Event” based on the boring offline model.

What they should have done is create a “Show”. Shows are an experience. Shows entertain. Shows engage. Shows tell Stories.

For Future of Work, the narrative focused on something very personal to the audience. Senior Managers and Business Leaders don’t want “education content” they want to improve and evolve; they want to stay relevant in the 2020s; they want to become better at their craft. We used polls to ask attendees in the first 5 minutes of arriving what their “pain points” were and then asked the panel to comment on the data. This is a departure from the old world of offline events where the audience sat passively. But when you encourage panelists to empathize and listen to the audience, something magical happens: the audience feels they are part of it.

And in business communication today, the first question your audience will ask in their heads when you begin opening your mouth is,

“Where am I in this story?”

Think about how important feeling part of a story is to audiences these days. That story could be a webinar audience, your team or your investors.

Same content, different outcome.

Webinar Case Study Data

So how did Storytelling impact our Webinar Data?

Here are the key data points from The Future of Work 6 Part Webinar Series:

– Where industry webinars averaged 28% attendance rate (data which was pre-Covid), The Future of work averaged 62%.

– Where industry webinars averaged 55% engagement rate (measured as the % of attendees who stay to the end), The Future of Work averaged 90.3%

– 117 attendees attended all 6 webinars over a period of 3 months.

When clients say that their content isn’t interesting enough; or their sector not sexy enough; or their people not exciting enough to engage, I point to The Future of Work webinar series.

In business communication today, you don’t need to be exciting or sexy, you just need to be relevant. Relevance means connecting your “data” with the audience through story. Relevance means making them care.

Same content, different outcome.

That is Storytelling.

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About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.
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