I’ve been to some conferences recently and seen some great presentations and some not so great ones. You know what makes for a poor presentation: lots of slides with too much information that you can’t read, poor delivery, little attempt at engaging the audience through humour, participation. The list could go on, but you get the idea.

And you know what makes a good presentation: Great slides that are visually engaging (more imagery, less text) and a presenter who uses the slides to provide some kind of narrative. The audience is taken on a journey. A good presentation also involves some kind of audience participation.

We know all of this and yet there are still plenty of bad presentations being delivered every minute of the day somewhere around the world.

Unfortunately for many of us who have attended webinars we seem to have failed to do these two  things:

  1. We have failed to learn from our mistakes and continue to deliver online the same presentations that were not good in the face to face environment.
  2. We have failed to understand the potential of the online environment. Yes, webinars are different to face to face presentations and they are powered by technology that enables you to make it a far more engaging experience. You need to work on this because there are too many distractions for webinar participants and it is easy to do something else or just log out or just fall asleep – like in a boring face to face presentation.

Worse still we then offer a recording of the webinar. If the webinar was an hour long with 80 dull slides can you really expect, or want, people to have to sit through that?

The increasing interest in, and use of, webinars should provide us with a prompt to focus on what makes an effective online event. This will enhance both your online and face to face presentations.

If you are planning a webinar then here are five things to consider.

  1. Work out if a webinar is the best option in the first place.
  2. If a webinar is the best option then really understand how the technology works – play with it and work out how you can engage delegates through tools such as chat, hands up, polls and surveys – all webinar platforms have a variation on these tools.
  3. Then invite your speakers to play with the technology so you have a good understanding of how you could create a really engaging presentation.
  4. Design your event with the above in mind and think of the delegates at all times – what content will engage them, how long should it run, how will you market it etc.
  5. Forget best practice and focus on next practise. Most webinars are not that good so work out what you would really like to do and go for it.

I help clients run webinars and the one element that delegates seem to really enjoy is the Q&A – when they are able to pose questions and get them answered. To have a Q&A session as part of a webinar is just one small design feature that is worth considering

[Picture credit: Nazreth]