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Best Practices for Preparing Speakers and Materials for Webinars

Posted by Anthony Salas on
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As you probably know by now, if a webinar is not carefully planned it can easily turn out to be a disaster, and a large part of that planning involves your speaker and the materials he/she will be presenting to your audience. I recently spoke with Alli Libb, Online Event Program Manager with the American Marketing Association and she graciously allowed me to share her thoughts on preparing speakers:

What suggestions do you give your speakers regarding the preparation of their materials (handouts, slides, etc.)?
We send the speakers a guideline document, chock full of all the best practices we’ve seen (and learned) over the years. This includes suggestions related to content (keeping it educational), PPT file size, slide layout and branding.

If slides are not formatted properly they can have an adverse affect on a presentation. Can you give examples of good and bad slide presentation that you have encountered (text size, font color, background, etc.)?


  • The background should be relatively clean and simple to allow audience focus on the content (i.e., there should not be a blue laser-like background on your slides).


  • Text-heavy slides drive the text size down and are NOT ideal for this type of forum. Think of the slide presentation as an outline to use to elaborate on your topic.


  • Including interesting images into a presentation adds humor. A great example I once saw was a slide about “cart abandoning” when online shopping. The speaker used a picture of an actual shopping cart alone on a beach to illustrate this point. Very clever!


What steps have you taken to prepare a speaker for a webinar?
It’s imperative that you do two things to prepare your speakers:

  • You should require a draft version of their slides about two weeks prior to the event date so you can review it for content, layout, etc. Then you can review them and make any necessary changes with plenty of time to spare.

  • Hold a rehearsal about 7 days before the event using the platform that you are going to conduct the event on. Scheduling this time with your speakers is critical to ensuring that all parties are able to access the platform without difficulty and understand how to use it to effectively present. It is also during this time that I encourage speakers to go through a full dry-run of their content.


What advice would you give to a speaker who is presenting a webinar for the first time?
It might sound odd, but I would recommend that you not “over-plan” your presentation. I’ve seen people create full scripts for their webinars and it seems to lead to over-thinking when presenting on a topic, frustration if they miss a word in a sentence, etc. It’s my firm belief that IF you practice your presentation using your slides, and are comfortable with the content you are presenting, you’re bound to give presentation that will be a success!

Following are some other tips you might consider sharing with your speaker(s):

  • Go to the bathroom 15 minutes before the webinar starts.

  • Put a sign on your door to alert colleagues you are busy and unattainable—then lock the door!

  • Have a glass of water handy.

  • Print out the presentation notes to use as a backup in case you experience computer issues and cannot advance your slides.

  • If you are on a laptop, make sure the power cord is plugged in and that you are working from a wired network. Wireless networks are more susceptible to drops and interruptions.

When gathering and developing materials, divide the content into three types:

  • Materials and information that participants can read and review on their own

  • Knowledge and information that benefits from listening and questioning a subject matter expert

  • Shared knowledge and experiential learning that benefits from interaction between participants

To summarize all of these points, I can’t help but think of one word – COMMUNICATION. Provide your speaker with all of the tools necessary to be successful, and in turn, provide you with a successful webinar!

What has been your experience in preparing speakers for a webinar? We would love to hear from you!

As an event manager, Anthony works with clients on all aspects of their audio and web conferencing needs. Prior to working at ReadyTalk, he was a ReadyTalk customer, so he brings a great understanding of developing and running webinar programs. He enjoys spending time with his family and two dogs, watching movies, reading and exploring Denver’s top restaurants.


Name: Tweets that mention ReadyTalk Blog » Blog Archive
Time: Monday, February 7, 2011

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Simone Verhulst and Teresa Lawlor, Simone Verhulst. Simone Verhulst said: Make sure your webinar speakers are prepared with these tips: http://bit.ly/e38bA2 [...]

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