Though remote work has helped webinars become omni-present, not all webinars are created equal. Here are a few things you might want to consider before holding your own.
What’s a webinar?
Let’s start at the very beginning – and get our etymology cap on! The word “webinar” is a portmanteau of “web” and “seminar”. It’s an online event hosted and broadcast live to participants, in real time. At BrightCarbon, we frequently run free webinars, called masterclasses, to share our insights on creating great presentations – from writing compelling content, creating visual slides, through to presenting online. We do this because we’re passionate about helping people make better presentations.
Webinar structure and timing
I’ll say it! Most webinars are too long. It seems to be pretty standard to schedule an hour, with perhaps 45 minutes of that for the presentation, and the rest for an introductions and a Q&A. But take a moment to think about your audience – you can’t interact with them and stare them down if they pull their phone out, so you’re relying on their will-power (and an inhuman attention span) to make them stay with you for the full time.
So, to answer the question “how long should I present for?” you really need 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. People tune out. Don’t schedule an hour because that’s what everyone else does – it’s just too hard to stay interesting when your webinar is in competition with urgent emails and Twitter [insert your social media platform of choice].
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 them before your call-to-action at the end.
Cut down the five-minute chat that introduces the speaker as you wait for latecomers. 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 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 about 15 minutes. We don’t think that questions or polls in the middle of your presentation are essential if you’re only presenting for 25 minutes – but if you’re going to present for a long time (30 minutes or more) you need to do something to keep it fresh. Either use polls, or change presenter, or take some questions – to stop things getting too monotonous.
We’re happy to say that our masterclasses are well-received, and we get good numbers registering and attending. What’s interesting though – and this is pretty standard – is that only about 50% of those who register actually show up for the event.
Some of those who register probably know in advance that they won’t make it – but want access to a recording of the event. Others probably expected to make it, but just couldn’t attend on the day. A good number of those who miss a masterclass ask us for a recording. So do some of those who did attend.
So, do we record the 30-minute masterclass and send out the recording? No. We take the slides that we present and use them to record a 10-15 minute narrated presentation, upload that to Vimeo, and send out a link to that video presentation instead. Why?
- Because sitting through webinar recordings is boring. It takes too long. I’m not sure why this is – after all, if you don’t ask a question, it shouldn’t matter if the webinar is live or not – but somehow it does. It’s harder to remain focused on a webinar recording than on a live webinar.
- Because we want people to know that they get something a bit extra if they attend our live events. A bit more detail, a bit more interaction – in return for a commitment of time and attention.
- Because the chance that someone who missed the event will watch the ten-minute recording is higher than that they will watch the 30-minute recording.
- Because a ten-minute summary is shareable – something people might pass on to their colleagues. This helps us build an audience for future events – in the series, but also just in general.
- Because a Vimeo recording is easier to navigate, and generally higher quality, than a full webinar recording.
We do get asked for the full recordings – but at the moment, we don’t plan to share them.
If all this has whetted your appetite and you want to see an example of a great webinar in action, head over to our events page and sign up for one of our online presentation or PowerPoint masterclasses.Leave a comment
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As presentation nerds, we at BrightCarbon have had plenty of opportunity to get to know ins and outs of Google’s browser-based presentation tool. This guide will cover everything you need to know about Google Slides - from the very basics to the most advanced features - and will provide you with the know-how to make brilliant slides, quickly and easily.
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