I’ve had the experience in the past several months of being both a regular presenter and regular attendee of webinars. I’ve learned quite a bit, being on both ends, and I would like to share what I’ve learned here for those who may want to present webinars of their own. Add your own guidelines in the comments!
Aside from technological considerations, presenting via the web can be more challenging than face-to-face, from a presenter’s perspective. To help you, I’ve provided some guidelines that will aid you in knowing what to expect and how to prepare for this type of presentation.
- Webinars require you to be more engaging. Webinars have been compared to radio; the more exciting you are, the more likely your listeners are to pay attention. Maintain a high energy level. Remember, it’s very, very simple for your attendees to jump ship if they’re bored…and they will.
- Slides have to be even simpler. If you’re accustomed to using lots of bulletpoints and/or charts with small print, you will need to significantly change your approach. Keep visuals clear and as simple as possible.
- Webinars move faster. The rule is that a presenter should plan to talk no more than 45-60 seconds on any given slide. Otherwise, you are likely to lose listeners.
- Don’t use clip art. Find photos or create your own infographic, but beware of the standard Microsoft clip art, which will likely brand your work as unprofessional and uncreative.
- If you’re on video (not just audio): Don’t fidget. Think about how people on TV look. They’re not playing with their hair or twirling the mic.
- Turn off your phones, IM, whatever. (This includes locking your howling cat out of the room. Yes, I have to do this.)
- Be prepared to answer questions. Just like in a face-to-face session, expect to have a Q&A period of 5-10 minutes at the end.
- Understand that you will need to multitask, somewhat. In many cases, waiting until the very end to answer ALL questions just isn’t practical. It can be more useful (and more engaging for your attendees) to answer the question in context. So keep one eye on the ongoing text chat. If you don’t think you can monitor and speak, have someone else with you to monitor the chat and signal when there are comments or questions.
- When you answer questions or respond to comments, REPEAT it first! Not everyone is watching the chat like you are or knows who said what. More importantly, if the session is being recorded, the chat log will not likely be a part of the archive. So say something like “Susan asks: what will this cost a small library?” Then answer the question.
- Include your contact information on the last slide. You can’t have a stack of business cards or handouts, so be sure people can contact you via email and/or social networks and that information is posted here so people can find it.
- Tell people where to find the slides after the presentation. No handouts in a webinar! If you don’t have a place to host your slides, I heartily recommend getting a Slideshare account and posting them there.