Do slides for webinars need to be different?

Recently, I attended a webinar. The slides were full of text and the presenter read word by word – you very well know what I said – Text on a Powerpoint slide is your greatest competition. When I gave feedback about this to the presenter via email, the response from him indicated to me that he decided to put all the text on his slides because it was a webinar.

So this brings up the interesting question – do slides need to be different for a webinar than those used for live presentations? No, absolutely not in my opinion. To me a webinar is no different than a live presentation at a conference where there is an overflow room. Imagine that you are giving a talk at a conference that has drawn a large audience that will not fit in the original room reserved for your talk. So the organizers open up another room where the audience can hear you, can see your slides on a projection screen, but cannot see you. Would you change your presentation style and your slides because you cannot see the people in the overflow conference room? No. Webinars should be treated the same way.

In fact, I will argue that webinars require even more presentation skills because you want the audience to listen to you while they have a lot of distraction compared to when you are presenting live. So if all you are going to do is put text and then read off the slide, they will read the slides ahead of you as you flip them and not pay any attention to your message.

While I am on this topic – here is another common mistake I have seen many presenters make including this webinar presenter. I signed up for the webinar to get knowledge about a topic that was interesting to me. The presenter started with introduction about who he is, what his company does and what products they make – this is not what I wanted to hear right off the bat. I wanted to hear about the topic that I signed up for. Tell me that first, satiate my hunger for it and then give me the pitch about you, your company and your products. Towards the end, you have gained more permission from the attendees to tell them about you and they are more apt to listen because you educated them first. It is all about the audience, folks. Don’t put the cart before the horse!

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3 thoughts on “Do slides for webinars need to be different?”

  1. Whether it is a webinar or face to face presentation, I think the rules covered in Presentation Zen apply. Slides should cleanly and succinctly tell your story and handouts/documents (i.e. NOT slides) should be provided as leave-behind…not the slides (since they are useless without the presenter).

    I also agree with the cart before the horse point. Save the mini pitch for the end (i.e. earn the right) and keep it short! If people are interested in more, they will contact you.

  2. I have found that conducting webinars require greater presentation skills, or better stated, requires the presenter to plan feedback into the presentation since the visual and auditory queues (nodding heads, laughter, note taking, snoring!) we rely on are not present in this medium. This implies that the more ‘noisy’ the slide, the easier it is to lose the audience and not know it.

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