Structure and Timing
Most webinars are too long. It seems to be pretty standard to schedule an hour, with perhaps 45 minutes of that for presentation, and the rest for an introduction and Q&A. But that’s actually quite long.
To answer the question “how long should I present for?” one really needs to consider how long you need to achieve your objectives. Generally speaking, any longer than 25 minutes without some sort of change or break can be hard to pull off. Don’t just schedule an hour because that’s what everyone else does – it’s just too hard to stay interesting.
Unless you have a good reason not to, schedule half an hour or 45 minutes for your webinar. It’s better to leave your audience wanting more than to lose your audience before your call-to-action at the end.
Cut down the five minute chat that introduces the speaker as you wait for late comers. If the logic of having that chat is that you don’t want anyone to arrive late and end up wondering what’s going on, then use a minute or so to introduce the speaker, and then a few minutes to present an interesting or surprising statistic or two that illustrates why the webinar topic is important. Then launch into the rest of your content, so that someone arriving a couple of minutes late will still be able to follow your arguments. This approach is just much more interesting for those who do arrive on time than five minutes of chit-chat with a host.
Polls and Q&A are a good way to raise audience attention levels during your session. Plan a question or two during the webinar to bring attention levels back up. It makes sense to use questions to break up the time you’ll be presenting for – so if you have 30 minutes of material to present, put a question after around 15 minutes to break things up a bit. We don’t think that questions or polls in the middle of your presentation are essential if you are only presenting for 25 minutes – but if you are going to present for a long time (30 minutes or more) you need to do something to keep things fresh. Either use polls, or change presenter, or take some questions – to stop things getting too monotonous.