I’ve collected the following list of disasters and near misses from my experiences, my clients’ presentations, and horror stories I’ve heard via my social media channels and at networking events. Take it from me, now is the time to learn from others and not make the mistake yourself. Here are 21 webinar tips to prevent any wreckage!
Webinar Tips for Success:
- Plug in Power Cord – A client turned off the presenter view after his webinar to find his battery only had 1% of power left. Disaster barely adverted.
- Forgot to Record – I participated in a webinar for an association, and they forgot to record it. They planned on selling the recording, so I had to represent the webinar as if it were live, including the Q&A session.
- Proper Start Time – Meetings should start after a 5-minute grace period. Online, when potentially hundreds of people are waiting, you want to start on time or at least acknowledge you’re waiting for people to log on. The problem in waiting is that you punish those who logged on early by waiting and thus rewarding those who came on late.
- Lead-in Time – If you present for an association, they will probably ask you to check in and be ready 30-minutes before the webinar. Even when putting on your own webinar, this is a necessary time to log in, use the restroom, get some water, and calm your nerves. Rushing in only elevates your anxiety.
- Starting Too Soon – Some new presenters will log in too soon, and the audience can hear them chatting with co-presenters or coworkers.
- Practice with the Software – Even seasoned presenters can get intimated by a webinar platform. Don’t just practice your presentation in PowerPoint or Keynote, use the system to do a dry run.
- “On Air” Sign – When presenting at a busy office, whether in the conference room or your private office, put an “On Air” sign on the door to prevent someone from accidentally interrupting or even knocking.
- Silence Your Devices – Simply put, turn your cell phone, tablet, and laptop to silent or off so they don’t spoil your great webinar.
- Present in Presentation View – I watched a great webinar recently ruined by the presenter utilizing the standard edit view in Keynote. For the entire presentation, I saw his next slides and all of his typos because Keynote spotlighted them with a red squiggly line.
- Beware Presenter View – When presenting to a live audience, I love PowerPoint’s presenter view because it shows me the next slide, has a running clock, and progress bar. During a webinar, you want to hide this view from your audience — another reason to practice with the platform and have a friend watching.
- Two Presenters, Two Microphones – External microphones are great for webinars, but do not use one microphone for two presenters because it will not pick up one of the presenter’s voice.
- No One Watching the Chat – On the webinar with two presenters using just one microphone, no one watched the chat and saw the audience complaining about the sound quality. Most of the attendees exited the webinar within the first 10 minutes.
- Lack Engagement – One of the biggest complaints of a webinar for both attendees and the presenter(s) is a lack of engagement. Yes, engagement is harder via a webinar, but it is not impossible.
- Use FAQ – Utilize a few frequently asked questions because most attendees will not ask questions during your first Q&A (even during in-person presentations). Also, during webinars it takes time for attendees to type in questions, having a few ready to go prevents long, awkward pauses.
- Mute – Know where the mute button is and use it as needed. You will need it at the beginning of your presentation to prevent your audience from hiring you chatting while getting started. It also comes in handy when you need to cough, sneeze, and even yawn.
- Moving the Mouse – One of the best parts of a webinar is having the audience’s attention. A mouse moving across the screen can easily distract them like a cat chasing a laser pointer. This distraction is especially important when two presenters both have control of the webinar.
- Sit Still – Many presenters “work the stage” and pace across it when presenting to an in-person audience. This method is a horrible idea for a webinar because your voice cuts out on the microphone, and it will drive your audience crazy. (For the record, I do NOT suggest pacing for in-person presentation either.)
- Lean In – You do not have to pace around the room to have your voice cut in and out. Leaning back can cause your volume to drop, and it also changes your attitude. Most people tend to over relaxed and mumble through their presentation when they lean back in their chair.
Triple Check Time Zones – A poor client walked into his office after a client meeting to have a frantic association education director trying to reach him via phone and email because she screwed up the time zones. The webinar was starting in 7 minutes, and my client’s co-presenter wasn’t in the office yet. Luckily, they planned to be online early and got started just a few minutes late.
- Watch the Clock – Most webinar attendees watch webinars during a lunch break or at the very least, have it scheduled in their calendar between meetings. Do not run long because it adds stress and anxiety to your attendees.
- Don’t Fly Solo – Most presenters enjoy sharing their message and seeing the audience’s responses and they miss this with a presentation. A great way to enjoy the experience and not feel like you’re talking to yourself or just your computer screen is to have a co-presenter or moderator. This changes a monologue to a conversation.
What do you think about these webinar tips? Feel more prepared for your webinar now? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and if you have any webinar disaster stories or webinar tips to suggest adding to the list.
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