Webinars: What Mother Never Told You

by Jeanette on September 7, 2009

Mother had good intentions. But webinars had not been invented yet. If she had been an experienced webinar host, she would have shared the following lessons with you.


1. You can’t see the polls. While they are clearly visible to your audience, all you can see as the presenter are the tiny “audience view” slides. You have to pull out your magnifying glass to read the poll, much less interpret the results.

Even though polls are good for audience involvement and refocusing their attention on the screen, you may hesitate using them because of this eye-opening fact.

2. The control panel overwrites the screen. You lose the right one-quarter to one-third of your screen, depening on your screen resolution. Sure, you can “close” the control panel so it is just a tiny sliver. But each time an attendee asks a question it pops back open to full size.

Each time you need to run a poll, you have to open the control panel again to both offer the poll and see the results. If you need to change your screen view, you have to open the control panel. You’ll lose your view of the right side of your screen repeatedly.

3. Your voice is faster than your slides. Sure, you learned in high school physics class that light travels faster than sound. But when you add the complicating factor of the light traveling over the Internet – well, the slides take longer to show than it takes for your voice to travel over the phone lines.

So you need to change your speech pattern. As you change the slide on your desktop computer, pause a second. Then start talking. It will become more natural with practice. If you skip this step, your attendees will feel like they’re trying to catch up all the time.

4. New software on your computer may keep you from presenting. Webinar software is complex and runs half on your computer and half online. It is sometimes difficult to predict what may cause a problem. Before you host a large presentation, connect for a practice session. It can save a lot of stress and last-minute panic to be certain your new virus firewall won’t keep you from making that presentation.

5. You can’t do it alone. Sure you can handle the presentation by yourself. After all, how difficult is it to click through your slides and talk at the same time? You’ve done it a hundred times in live face-to-face seminars.

But if you want to leverage the power of a webinar and provide polls, field questions from participants, provide a quality recording and ensure all of your registrants are able to connect, then you need more hands than you have. Whether it’s your office assistant or your best friend – or a combination of both – get help, especially for your larger calls. Your participants will be glad you did!

While you won’t produce a flawless webinar every time, you’ll come a lot closer when you listen to these lessons from your mother.

Dr. Jeanette Cates is an Internet strategist who works with new and emerging online business owners. She is the creator of the First Webinar program, which helps you painlessly produce your first webinar.

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