A friend recently pointed me to a video on YouTube. It's an hour-long talk, but I'm going to ask you to just watch the first two and a half minutes. Go ahead and watch the introduction… I'll wait.
Now look at the comments posted below the video. As I write this, the most recent comment is from user gdcat777: "Just shut up with the nerdy intro and get to the point."
Wow. Rude and a minority opinion in conflict with the few other people who wrote to indicate their enjoyment of the lecture. But rather than dismissing the comment out of hand, let's think about what could drive gdcat777 to issue a demand that in order to be effective would have to be retroactively applied a year before they watched the recording!
I'll start by saying that in my opinion, the presenter did a fine job of quickly establishing a personal and personable relationship with his Audience in the room. He communicated enthusiasm for his subject. He conveyed energy despite being stuck behind a podium, blocked by screens. He even landed a topic-related joke and follow-on joke that worked - getting a good reaction from his listeners without wasting a lot of time on setup.
By the minute and a half mark, he has switched to illustrating benefits for the listener: "It has dramatic, significant impacts on your health and wellbeing."
So, why the hate?
There are several psychological factors at play, none of which were the presenter's concern, nor his responsibility to consider. He gave a good live talk to a local audience, just as he was asked to do. It's not his fault that the dynamics of watching recorded content are different.
The attention span and topic commitment of an online viewer are very much shorter than for an audience that has traveled to a location and sat down in a room. Online viewers have an infinite number of potential other content sources competing for their time. They want to know almost immediately whether this particular one is going to pay off in terms of having what they were looking for.
The first 30 seconds of viewing time on the video offer nothing for the YouTube viewer. Some introductory music, title cards for the sponsor/presenting body, a "good evening" and thanks to an audience for "braving the weather" and being part of the mini-med school experience. It's probably not evening for us, and we certainly did not brave any weather in order to watch this video. We're also not part of the shared experience he is referencing. C'mon… get to the point!
Then the presenter sets up the topic and his joke by referencing the title of the talk. He looks off to the side, directing the audience's eyes to the screen in the room so they are concentrating on the same words he is about to riff on. But we in YouTube land can't see the title. The effect is ruined for us. He's not making eye contact with us and we can't see the object of focus in the discussion. So the joke and his thoughts about the subject carry less impact and relevance for us. He also references the fact that it fits in well with "the med school framework that you guys have been going through." Uh uh… Not me!
Now all of that introductory "fluff" (as far as gdcat777 is concerned) takes up a mere minute and a half. See how little time you have to make a first impression on your viewer? Unfortunately it's compounded by the next minute. The first content Slide we see is a classic "Outline" with four numbered points. This is a common approach in the academic community… One is taught early on to organize and structure academic writing into an outline format. In the general business world the slide would be the same, but would have a title of "Agenda."
I have written about the dangers of agenda slides (or outline slides) in the past. If only this presenter had slightly changed the framework of how he presented these topic points… "What are the key questions that concern us regarding the impact of sleep on health and wellbeing?" Or "I imagine you want to know the answers to some of these important questions that can affect your health and wellbeing." Or even the more direct route of "What can you expect to take away from this talk?"
The goal is to put the emphasis on value to the listener rather than highlighting the way the speaker chose to organize the content.
Had there been that kind of a segue into the content, it could have made an opportunity for the sponsor to edit the opening of the recorded video.
I'd move the opening UCTV logo to the end… "This has been a presentation from UCTV."
Instead, I would open with a slide that combines the UCSF Osher title above the line with the talk's title below the line: "Sleep, Inflammation, and Metabolism: Sleep-worthy Connections!" (Get rid of that long, long title above the line. It takes too long to read and offers no additional critical information.)
Then I would open on the speaker after his remarks to the local audience. Go straight into the topics slide with him offering the key things that this talk is going to communicate. The online viewer doesn't get the nice, gentle introduction and ramp-up into the content. Instead, they jump straight to "Here's the meat. If this is what you were looking for, you found it."
It's not as personable. It feels more abrupt. But in this age of instant gratification, shortened and abbreviated content (If u know wt I mn), and competing sources of information, it gives you greater odds of holding viewers past that critical first couple of minutes.
Online viewers are brutal. Meeting their needs and interests quickly with a recording is a different kettle of fish from working an opening with a live audience. By the way, that's also why you should avoid recording the opening remarks from your webinar moderator telling attendees how to use the webinar platform controls and type in questions. Record from (or edit to) the start of the presentation proper. Let online viewers skip "the nerdy intro and get to the point."
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