Do webinars always need to be dull?

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[Taken from Webinar Master, the free, 46-page ebook on online delivery.]

What are webinars, and need they be dull?

I use the word ‘webinar’ to mean a particular type of event – an online presentation where the speaker(s) and audience are connected through computers, linked together over the internet. The presenter almost always has slides to show, and will sometimes also be visible over video. There is usually at least one other person involved – often an MC or host, who introduces the speaker and who may also handle a Q&A. Typically, the audience can use the webinar chat function to communicate with each other and with the speaker; sometimes they can also speak.

There is nothing in this rather wordy description requiring that webinars be dull. Nevertheless, that is their general reputation, and for one very simple reason: most events involve no interaction and no attempt at engagement. The audience is expected to sit, listen and look at slides.

Sometimes, this is not an issue – the subject matter itself is compelling enough. For most, however, it is a recipe for the audience quietly dropping out of the event, or perhaps half-listening while catching up on email.

Unless you have something to say that is utterly compelling, you will need to engage your audience and interact with them to make your webinar a success. Fortunately, that is exactly what this book is about: from using your voice, to structuring your story, to asking and answering questions.

But rather than starting on this slightly negative note, it’s worth reminding ourselves of three real benefits of webinars.

First, they are convenient. Unlike face-to-face meetings, they involve no travel, and unlike telephone conferences the availability of visuals and text chat makes them a rich medium.

Second, if you are speaking on a webinar you can have all your notes, including a script, immediately to hand. In other words, if you are sufficiently prepared, it is a very low-risk event.

Finally – and this is a point I cannot emphasize enough – the text chat offered by webinars provides a unique opportunity. In a face-to-face event you cannot have everyone talking at once, but online anyone who has something useful to contribute can do so, quickly and without interrupting the speaker, just by writing a short message in the text chat area. Everyone can see these contributions, and they are available for reference after the event.

Time and again over several hundred webinars, I have seen audiences add insight, thoughts and resources to a discussion in a way that I cannot imagine happening face-to-face. I do not say this to denigrate in-person conferences or workshops – I have chaired scores of them, and spoken at far more – but rather to highlight an important fact: webinars are not an inferior substitute for a face-to-face meeting. Use what they have to offer and you can create memorable events with great impact.

This is an extract from Webinar Master, a free 46-page guide to great online delivery. Click to download it

Webinar Master is now free


Today, I’m making my book, Webinar Master, available for free. It’s 46 pages of hints and tips collected over 13 years of hosting and delivering webinars.

This website is no longer my main focus. If you click the image, it will take you to a post on my main website, Click the image there, and you can download the PDF for free.

Donald H Taylor
March 2020

What makes a webinar master?

LPI-WebinarMasterClassGraphicSomething went wrong.

Webinars were supposed to be the low cost tool that would make meetings easier, span the globe and spread information across your organisation like wildfire.

It hasn’t happened quite like that.

Instead, webinars have become the reviled, bastard step-cousin of Microsoft PowerPoint. Widely disliked, seldom fully attended and only grudgingly accepted in most organisations.

This is a great pity. It doesn’t have to be that way. With just a little effort they could achieve their potential and be a great way to meet and share information quickly.

On 11th May I’ll deliver an LPI Webinar that explains how: What makes a webinar master?

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How to ruin your webinar – with bad timing

birdnestImage © Simon Adams, used with permission

A good webinar is built piece by piece, with each piece fitting together like a bird’s nest. When that happens, it looks elegant, runs smoothly to time and everyone benefits. All because you prepared it properly.

By the day of your webinar, you will have have already trimmed your presentation and rehearsed it. You’ve put a lot of work into getting it right – for goodness sake, don’t ruin it at the last minute by not allowing time to present it right.

There are three places to ruin your webinar – before you start, in the middle and at the end. The bit in the middle you’ve already dealt with by prepping right. You’ve a slick presentation with plenty of interaction.


How can you ensure you shine at the start and finish on a high?

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Your webinar audience isn’t all there


Image © Simon Adams, used with permission

We live in a noisy world – literally and figuratively.

When you’re conducting a webinar, you may find your audience ready to withdraw from everything else, mute their phones, turn off all alerts and quit email, just to focus on you.

You may.

It’s more likely that your audience will try to attend your webinar alongside everything else they are doing.

They will want to multi-task. You will want their full attention.

It sounds impossible, but it is possible to run a successful webinar under these circumstances; if you follow two simple rules.

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5 steps for building a great webinar

Let’s assume you are delivering a one-hour webcast. During this you may only be presenting for some 30 – 35 minutes, with the rest of the time going to housekeeping, a Q&A, and wrapping up.

How will you make those 30 minutes count?

When speaking online, you can’t rely on body language, and as a result your content becomes supremely important. In fact, it is the essential element, more important than your voice, than interaction, than beautiful slides. Content trumps them all.

So how do you create the best possible content?

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