What makes a great webinar, you ask? Well, of course there’s a top ten list for that!
- Write a script: Don’t you dare read an in-person presentation. No! No! But with the tight timelines of webinars, you can consider this option. It will ensure you stay exactly on time and cover every important point. But re-read points #2 and #3.
- Engage don’t read: It’s ok to read a script but it’s not ok if I can tell you’re reading. Read as if you were actually talking. Keeps the ums and ahs that you would normally say, though perhaps cut back on them if you’re an abuser.
- Voice modulation: Nothing makes people tune out quicker than a monotone voice. Make sure your voice rises and falls and pauses and speeds up as you normally would. If you can’t fake it, then bring some colleagues into the room and present your webinar to them.
- Don’t go under time: Don’t run short. Webinars are often only 30 minutes total and you should use up the entire 20 minutes of speaking time (allowing for 10 minutes of questions). 15 minutes feels too short and almost like I shouldn’t have bothered to break up my schedule for you. 20 minutes feels like you wanted to give me as much as you could.
- Don’t go over time: Your audience was kind enough to loan you 30 minutes, not 32 minutes, and certainly not 35 minutes. I don’t care how excited you are about the questions coming in. Close on time. You can follow up on individual questions and answers by phone, email, twitter, or otherwise.
- Budget time for each slide: Assume your system will take 1 to 5 seconds for viewers to see your slides change. Make sure your talk budgets 5 spare seconds on either side of each slide. In other words, don’t rush through 100 slides in 20 minutes. A good guide is no more than 1 slide per minute.
- Forget the transitions: Fancy slide transitions and builds are great for in-person presentations but are fodder for failure in a webinar. Every image change adds technology time to transfer the image across the wires and adds one more permission point for glitches. Simple=Fewer problems.
- Make a point: Again, assuming technology will glitch, make sure a written point is made on each slide. Pictures are pretty but when your phone cuts out for 10 seconds, the entire point of a slide can be lost if there is no guiding text.
- Have a back channel: Whether it’s Twitter and a hashtag, your online community, or the webinar system itself, give the audience a back channel to talk among themselves. Let them talk to other people who are just as interested in your talk as you are. It’s networking and education all in one.
- Get feedback: If you can’t bear to listen to or watch the video afterwards, ask your colleagues to be bluntly honest. Could they tell you were reading? Was your voice interesting? Did you time the slide transitions and your words well?