January 27, 2012

How To Run A Webinar

by Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012

Even if you're an experienced live speaker, be wary of webinars. There are major differences that make your presentation both tougher and simpler.

If you think body language is important, tough luck. You can't show any. Compensate by adding energy to your voice and zing to your visuals.

You don't know the varying environments from which your audience is watching. How fast are their Internet connections? How noisy is the background? What other distractions are taking place? Are you like the climax of an edge-of-your-seat movie or like a TV playing in the background while real work goes on?


Since no one can see you, add more energy and enthusiasm to your voice. Slow down. Depending on Internet connections, sound quality varies and your words might fade in and out. You needn't talk in sloooooow motion, since that's annoying too.


Use a high quality microphone that sounds natural. You could use a headset but a table microphone is more convenient, captures room ambience better and soon feels invisible.

Use a fast, reliable Internet connection. Have a backup plan. Some recent smartphones can become mobile hotspots. Be mindful of your data plan. Connect your smartphone to power to save your battery.
Turn off or silence gadgets. If you forget and they ring, beep or buzz, just turn them off. There's no need to apologize or draw further attention to this oversight.

If you're co-presenting, see if all presenters can be in the same location. This avoids delays and glitches when switching speakers. If you can't be together, have a way to communicate privately. Text messages or emails may be enough.


You'll be using PowerPoint or something similar. Learn the tool by watching others. Here's a sample presentation from 2008 (no need to watch the full thing).

Build your points one by one to help your audience focus. That's an excellent technique for in-person presentations too. In a webinar, you can't point to a spot on the screen or use a laser pointer. Instead, move the cursor smoothly and pause. There's a lag in what you're doing and what your audience sees.
Video probably won't play well and audio may not transmit. You can include a screenshot instead.


Make sure you know how to work the equipment in advance. There are probably video tutorials online.
Not only are you speaking, you have additional controls to monitor audience questions. Working with a partner helps, even if you're the only one speaking.

Get interactive. You may have tools to ask questions, run surveys or to raise hands.
"Are you with me?"


Do record your session. You'll get valuable feedback to improve and now have content you can post online. PowerPoint has a built-in recording


Allow time for attendees to type questions as you proceed and at the end. A helper or co-presenter can monitor them while you're speaking. As with a live presentation, you'll want to have typical questions prepared to get the discussions started.

You might find that you like webinars more than in-person presentations. Or not. Either way, you'll improve your webinars with these tips and practice. What do you think?

Promod Sharma has conducted webinars. He prefers creating YouTube studio recordings and speaking live. You’ll find more about him on LinkedIn.

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