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8 tips for better webinars

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The pandemic halted live conferences for nearly two years, so B2B marketers relied heavily on virtual events. And as the number of webinars has increased, so have people’s expectations.

Meeting these expectations is a challenge because there are many ways, big and small, to go wrong.

Based on the over 100 webinars I’ve given and hundreds more I’ve attended, here are my tips for improving the webinar experience.

1. Focus on viewing experience, not slide count

What is the difference between a half hour webinar with 10 slides and this same half hour webinar with 30 slides?

In time, nothing. But this deck of 30 slides will generally be better, because having less content on each slide makes those slides easier to follow and understand.

A telltale sign that you need to split a slide is if it has multiple columns of text or multiple examples.

2. Design slides for smaller screens and modals

People watching your webinar using full screen desktop screens is the best case scenario. But what about people watching on their phones? What about the screenshots people share on social media? What about the clips you share on social media? What about people watching the webinar recording on your blog’s embedded video?

To create an easy viewing experience for these audiences, I generally use font sizes between 30 and 50 points. As a result, I can rarely fit more than 40 words on a slide, which reinforces good slide design.

3. Keep participants focused on what you’re saying

If you give webinar attendees the chance to read before the point you’re making, they will and stop listening to what you’re saying.

So, use your slide count and animation to pace your content. As much as possible, you want the content people see to be in tune with the topic you’re talking about at the time.

4. Don’t Touch That Mouse

Moving your mouse cursor can be distracting. Instead of using your mouse, use the arrow keys on your keyboard to advance your slides.

Also be aware that participants can often see your mouse cursor moving around as you navigate the chat and other parts of the control panel. For this reason, it’s always wise for a co-host who doesn’t control the slides to be responsible for watching the chat and answering questions.

If you are traveling solo, consider expecting you to answer all questions at the end.

5. Remember to turn on your camera

This video from the built-in camera creates an extra point of interest on the screen, leaving attendees unsure whether to watch your slides or you. Instead of having it on all the time, turn on your camera for your bio slide and during Q&A, for example, to create a more personal experience.

6. Plan for slide lag

If you’re hosting a webinar over Wi-Fi, you’re almost guaranteed to experience at least some slide lag, a delay from when you activate animation or advance your slides to when the audience sees those changes. . For this reason, I recommend using a wired connection.

But even if the person running the game is on a local network, it’s wise to design your slides to be lag-friendly, because your audience might not have good internet connections.

Here are four slide design principles compatible with offsets:

  1. Minimize camera use. Besides being potentially distracting, having your camera on can cause lag, especially if you’re on Wi-Fi.
  2. Avoid showing videos. While regular camera video from the built-in speaker generally looks passable because it’s so small, full-screen videos can be less smooth. Additionally, we’ve all experienced webinars where there were display or audio issues with videos that caused significant delays or ultimately led to the host skipping the video altogether. I consider videos to be the riskiest webinar content.
  3. Change Slide Transitions to “None”. “Fade” and other transitions can look janky if your internet connection isn’t lightning fast. Setting transitions to “None” gives you a clean transition from slide to slide.
  4. Bring up the animation. “Fade In” and other animation styles generally don’t look smooth. Animations that fly or slide can look even worse.

7. Make Video Editing and Trimming Easier

Today, more people will watch your webinar recording than will watch it live. This is even more true if you cut your webinar recording into several clips to share.

Here are four tips that make post-production easier:

  1. Follow offset-compatible slide design principles and video editing will be easier because you won’t have to worry about clipping in the middle of a slide transition fade or camera video.
  2. Start your registration well before the webinar officially launches to reduce your risk of forgetting. As part of our housekeeping slide, we always remind attendees that the webinar will be recorded and that we will share the recording with them. I’ve always considered that to be our cue to press the “Record” button, if we haven’t already. But increasingly, I start recording when we log on 15 minutes early to check our internet, audio, and video connections. In post-production, you just delete that.
  3. Use dead air strategically, giving you clear break points between sections of your webinar for easy cutting. The most important thing is between cleaning up for live attendees and the actual start of your webinar. Allow yourself a few seconds of silence on your title slide before starting with a nice, clean greeting that stands on its own. Another critical point to take a break is between the webinar closing and the start of the Q&A, unless you plan to post it with the recording.
  4. Be careful how you enter and exit live polls, because recordings won’t capture those poll windows if you’re sharing your PowerPoint or Keynote app and not your screen (which poses dangers with email, Slack, and other notification popups). Also, since live polls are primarily for live participants, you may not want to include them in the recording, even if you are able to capture them.

8. Have a clear plan for managing multiple responders

Webinars get a lot more complicated when you have multiple speakers. Here are four ways to manage them:

  1. Be clear whose turn it is to speak. If your presentation is organized into sections, having one speaker per section makes handovers easier. But if you have two or more speakers talking throughout the presentation, my secret to managing it is to color code each slide. Choose a color for each speaker, then place a small box in the bottom right or left corner to indicate who owns the slide. And if you have more than one speaker on a slide, use two colored boxes, placing them in speaking order. You’ll have to practice, but the color coding is a good visual reminder to lean on in times of uncertainty.
  2. Have a plan to move the slides forward. Even if you have a lot of practice with the rhythm, it is wise to have sound cues. But the cue doesn’t have to be the dreaded “Next slide, please.” Instead, use a more natural prompt such as “On the next slide we’ll talk about…” or “We’ll dive deeper into this on the next slide.” My favorite hack here is clicking a ballpoint pen next to my mic to signal the slide pilot to move forward. It’s subtle and effective.
  3. Disable most, if not all, animations for non-conductive speakers. It’s just too hard to spot each of the animations.
  4. Limit camera use. Unless your slides are just talking points for a group of speakers, more cameras usually equal more distractions from your slides. If you weave your talking parts together, the benefit of having cameras on is that the speakers will be able to react to each other’s visual cues so they’re less likely to talk to each other. But the big danger is that a previous or next speaker is on camera and obviously not paying attention – maybe answering the chat, checking email, letting someone go, whatever. It always makes me think, Maybe I shouldn’t bother listening to this speaker either.

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I hope the tips in this article help you produce even better webinars, as virtual events remain essential for B2B outreach.

More Resources on Better Webinars

How to Use Webinars to Build Good Customer Relationships

Secrets to Runaway Webinar Success (Based on Data from 350,000 Webinars): Daniel Waas on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

How not to give a great presentation