This week, I was invited onto the BrightTALK platform to deliver a webinar on – appropriately – How to get more from your webinars. Needless to say, it had to be effective. But the mechanics of the platform presented an even greater challenge than that of scrupulously following my own advice for half an hour: no animation on the slides. How do you present effectively for 35 minutes using static slides? Challenge accepted.

BrightTALK has built up a fantastic community that puts on some great webinars, and the platform is a joy to use – simple controls, great stability and some nice Q&A and voting tools. The only issue for us was the way it converts PowerPoint slides – by snapshotting each one and displaying it as a static image. Of course, there are workarounds to simulate certain types of animation – capturing frames of the animation ‘flip-book style’, or simply to build up sequences over a number of slides, for example – but these workarounds were confounded by a rather eye-catching ‘zoom and pan’ transition effect that BrightTALK uses to move from slide to slide. So there was to be no faking it. Effective static slides, or bust.

We got our heads together to work out why this felt like such a problem for us. The fact is, animation is absolutely key to our visualisation process. It lets us build up, transform, move around and remove elements to direct the audience’s attention and clarify the messages. Without animation, the slides we create would have less explanatory power. Slides aren’t meant to be self-explanatory, but they are still meant to add value by stimulating attention and making complex ideas easier to absorb.

Animation is especially important for keeping webinar audiences interested – we recommend no longer than 15 seconds between on-screen animations, or 30 seconds between static images, to keep momentum going and stop the whole thing turning into a podcast.

So, first inspiration (a comic-book theme), then perspiration. We took our existing materials on webinars and visualisation (as featured in our masterclass series) and wrote a new script to cover 35 minutes, then broke it down into 150 word paragraphs, which take me about 30 seconds each to read (after coffee).  Then we designed a slide of illustrated frames for each 30 second chunk of messaging, with stylised narrative and thought-bubbles, to illustrate each key caveat or learning point. Each slide was designed to be interesting (even amusing?) but still not self-explanatory, adding intrigue and explanatory value to the narrative without giving the game away.

We got a good rating, high attendance (through to the end!) and some nice comments on it too. You can watch a recording of the webinar here.

Bring on level two… (And if you have a BrightTALK channel – contact us if you want help with your slide design…)

 

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John Bevan

Managing consultant

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Nov 2019

How marvellous that the recent versions of Office automatically embed videos into PowerPoint instead of linking them. And how frustrating when you bundle up your multimedia presentation and someone else reports that the videos don’t play on their PC. This is an issue we’ve come across many times over the years, and it can be very tricky and time-consuming to troubleshoot, so we’ve developed a little tool to help.

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