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5 True Webcast Horror Stories
February 25, 2014 @ 12:19 PM | By Eric Vidal

A webcast is a video conference meant to drive user engagement and connect with target audiences. It is a fantastic way to convey information to large groups of people—particularly clients and colleagues—as quickly and efficiently as possible. Not only can webcasts add up to exponential savings (no more paying for plane tickets, hotel rooms, conference lunches, or venues), but their myriad of features can captivate an audience far better than your standard, lecture-style meeting.

Because they’re so simple, however, people sometimes forget that they are professional communication events and should be treated as such.

Webcasts can be launched as frequently and quickly as you need them without throwing the entire company (or departmental budgets) out of order.  When used incorrectly or hastily, however, even the best advancement can become a liability.

Here are the top five true webcast horror stories that really happened to me. Hopefully, you can learn from the terrible examples these professionals made.

1. Hit mute. We can still hear you on the webcast.

We’ve all heard urban legends about the top executive who took a break from a webcast in order to use the bathroom, but forgot to turn off his microphone. It’s scary enough to keep you up all night—or prevent you from excusing yourself when the need arrives.

Don't forget to log out or mute your line before doing something embarrassing.

This one may be the most embarrassing of the bunch. But, what makes it even worse is that it's so simple to avoid. It only takes an extra bit of caution. If you can’t remove your microphone when taking a break, train yourself to at least turn it off.

2. Making your pets a part of a professional webcast.

Dogs are great. Truly, they are. Man’s best friend and all. But if they had something insightful to add to your webcast, they probably would have made headlines by now.

Dogs and cats have no place on a professional webcast.

When choosing a place for your webcast, be mindful of distractions like barking dogs, ringing phones, and intrusive roommates. 

A famous author in the learning and development industry had some problems on a webinar that I was moderating. Her dog was barking pretty loud and I told her I would take a question from the audience in order to give her a second. Well, she forgot to mute her line and said some pretty colorful things to her dog before I could mute her.

The fan mail she received was not that pleasant.

3. The pompous abuse of webcast power.

There is a story circulating about a woman who drove by a police officer while webcasting in her car. When he pulled her over for using a handheld device illegally, she turned the camera toward him in an attempt to embarrass him. Yes, this is actually a true urban legend.

It's simple: don't be a jerk on a webcast.

The moral of the story? Well, aside from being mindful of your environment again, don’t let the power of webcasting go to your head.

Personal Hint: this was an ex-coworker of mine and that highway was the 880 in the Bay Area in California.

4. Careful who you talk about on a webcast.

This true webcasting horror story can get you in some serious trouble. 

Much like the executive who forgot to turn his microphone off during a bathroom break, there is the tale of the webcaster who mistakenly thought his microphone was muted during a webcast and began talking to other people about the attendees.

You better be sure you muted the webcast before you say that.

Not only is this embarrassing and highly unprofessional, it can cost clients, your reputation, and possibly your job.

5. Forgetting a webcast is still a professional meeting.

This is probably the most believable of the true webcasting stories. Because, who want to wear a suit at home?

Webcasting from home—or even on vacation—is a luxury we are lucky to have in the 21st century. Don’t take advantage of it by wearing something that would never be acceptable in the office.

You should still dress professionally for a webcast.

So put the bathrobe away and pull out a nice, collared shirt. If you’re sitting, perhaps you can get away with a pair of slippers. I have a few great examples here of things gone bad, but not sure this is the right vehicle for this. Ok, I will say too much skin was showed on a couple of occasions.

Can you share one that you have been a part of or maybe heard about?

Eric Vidal Eric Vidal is a Director of Product Marketing at InterCall and is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. He has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies in these areas for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously from WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media. Over the last several years, Eric has held management positions at Cisco, WebEx, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.

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