After attending seven online webinars in three days, I’m wondering if I got the return on my time. I was expecting these would be the best webinars based on the sales page and speakers. The advantage of viewing so many presentations in a short time is I could see patterns. I decided to convert these problems into webinar tips for presenters and attendees. Many of these tips are common sense, and yet they were overlooked.
Webinar Tips for Presenters
- Make sure the web registration page works. One firm had a great seminar description page, but I saw a generic “page not found” error when I clicked to register that suggested I contact the webmaster. After a week, I contacted the competition instead.
- Figure out the minimum registration information your attendees need. There were two webinars I thought of attending, but because the firm asked for too much info, I stopped. And if you’re doing business with folks in Europe, this is a bigger concern because of GDPR.
- Please tell me on the registration page how long the webinar should last.
- Immediately confirm the user’s registration and mention if they should get an email with the webinar details.
- Start and end on time. Don’t delay me because you expect more people to log in. Value your attendees’ time.
- Send reminder emails to the user about the web meeting. One vendor made the process easy. They provided a confirmation email with a link that added the event to my online calendar. It also included the URL, passcode, audio dial-in number, webinar’s software requirements, agenda, and phone number for technical support.
- Please do a trial run of your presentation. On the last webinar I had today, the presenter couldn’t figure out how to stop the “on hold” recording. His instructions were competing with the recording till someone came to his rescue.
- If you do a trial run, have someone listen in to see if you overuse certain words….like “awesome.” When you overuse words, your attendees may remember those words more than your message.
- Confirm that the attendees can see your screen and hear you when you start. It also helps to have a “spotter” who can alert you to problems such as audio or desktop resolution issues. This is important if you’re using a webinar service that isn’t well known. It also helps people who might like to transcribe the audio file to text.
- Thank the attendees and other speakers for attending. This is also a good time to sound enthusiastic.
- Highlight what the webinar will cover.
- I suspect you have great presentation skills, so don’t waste them by reading your PowerPoint deck.
- “Oh, my gosh … did you know Tom has a cast!” And that was one of the tamer lines I heard in the background conversation. Find a quiet conference room and tell your office mates not to interrupt unless they also want a cast.
- Let me know early on if you will record the presentation. Please don’t assume I can stay for the duration.
- Most presenters need to slow down. I don’t know if it’s nerves or that many start late and try to finish on time. This can be a real problem if you’re demoing software as there can be a latency factor, so your words and screen actions don’t sync.
- If the conferencing software allows you to mute attendees’ phones, please do so unless it’s a well-behaved group.
- Tell attendees what the policy is for asking questions and where they can post them.
- Turn off messaging or auto email notifications on your presentation computer unless you prefer us to watch that YouTube video your friend just sent.
- Don’t use a computer that prominently displays icons showing your software or anti-virus programs need updates.
- Please don’t show me real customer data unless it’s your own or tell us you have permission to use it. I’d much prefer to see scrubbed data than to have someone’s information revealed.
- Send a follow-up email telling me that the presentation has been posted and where to get a copy. This is also a good time to answer any questions I submitted but didn’t get answered during the allotted time.
The webinar tips above were based on my experience. But, if you really want to excel in webinars, you might want to check out Webinar Wranglers Newsletter by Daniel Waas. He and his team have analyzed thousands of webinars as opposed to my seven. You can get a nice overview of some of these from his 55 Actionable Webinar Tips list.
Webinar Tips for Attendees
A good deal of a webinar’s success depends on the attendees. We play a big part and can make or break a presentation.
- Most webinars provide an email with the URL to join. Test this webinar link before the web meeting starts. You won’t join the conference, but you should get an idea of whether you’ll need other software.
- Put your phone on mute if possible, especially if you’re eating or listening to music. It’s amazing how much background noise such as people typing comes through, especially for attendees who wear headsets.
- Don’t put your phone on “hold” during the webinar. The other attendees don’t like hearing your “hold” recording or music during the presentation.
- This is not the time to play “stump the chump” or file a grievance with the presenters. Don’t be one of those people that create the most obscure hypothetical question for the sake of getting the presenter to admit they don’t know the answer.
- Be respectful of others when asking questions. Ask the presenter if it’s OK to ask another question rather than assuming it is. You’re seldom the only one with questions.
After watching these webinars, I’m glad I don’t have to do these presentations. I did my share and made my mistakes. I found out the hard way that some web conferencing providers don’t like dual monitors and that I speak too fast. The best webinars I attended were when presenters and attendees had mutual respect for each other and their time.