Best Practices for Preparing Online Presentations
Takeaway notes from a Citrix Online webinar. By Aliza Bornstein, copywriter, Melissa Data

Jeanne Hopkins of MarketingSherpa presented a step-by-step how-to on creating and executing webinars on June 17.

Webinars are great!
They help position you as an expert in your field and your company as a thought leader. They also put a face on your brand, provide a cohesive method of providing content, and can be re-purposed (once you’ve created the webinar you can continue to publicize through a variety of media tools).

A webinar is not a meeting
You don’t go into a little conference room and look at the other people across the table from you. You completely lose those body language cues and you’re actually staring at a screen. Therefore, you need to grab your invisible audience’s attention.

Know your venue
Just by moving your presentation online you are changing your venue. Like any other change of venue, you should go into the space ahead of time, look at the configuration of the room, examine the type of equipment that’s already there, what more is needed, and understand the logistics to make your presentation more meaningful.

Presentation delivery
Content is key. When you’re delivering a webinar and lose some of those visual cues and personality you might bring to a face-to-face presentation, you need to create the content that’s going to allow you to have an engaging experience with your attendees.

3 Tips
To do an online seminar or webinar the timeline is much more compressed than doing an offline event (like a conference).

1.) Shorten your marketing cycle. The decision cycle to attend an online seminar is compressed—made much closer to the event than for offline events.
2.) Shorten the webinar. You can’t expect to keep online seminar attendees for much longer than 45 minutes. 30-40 minutes in an optimal length, any longer and your attendees get tired or bored.
3.) Mention your webinar everywhere. You’ll pick up additional attendees if you have sign-up forms at your site’s homepage. Add it to your social networking sites, tell friends and co-workers, publicize it in e-newsletters—anything to get the word out!

Webinar timeline: A planning schedule

8 weeks prior: Identify your topic and pinpoint goals.
6-8 weeks prior: Select speakers; assign roles/topics; select vendor(s); delegate technical tasks; design customer elements.
6 weeks prior: The promotion begins. Start ads and media alerts; registration page launched and tested; recording? (Yes/No).
2-4 weeks prior: Send the first email blast to existing contacts and new mailing lists; promotion campaigns containing online ads/banners; have your co-workers spread the word!
1 week prior: Email reminder; test run (check for snags and tweak timing).
2-3 days prior: Email reminder with computer compatibility check included.
1 day prior: Conduct a full dry run with speakers.
1 hour prior: Email reminder with archive information and repeat previous reminder checks.
1 hour after webinar: Email a thank you to your attendees with recording information available.
1 week after webinar: Analyze your success—compare to your goals; plan your next webinar (bigger and better!).

Producing Tips
It’s your event. Choose the tools and options you want to use during your webinar (polls; surveys; voting; feedback (verbal/written); drawing tools; toll-free conferencing.

Production Tips
Use two to three monitors or laptops; one to run the event, see the attendees, statistics, and answer questions. Use the other to see what the attendees are seeing; they may be seeing something on the screen you’re not aware of, like the wrong slide. Oops!

Have a back-up person to remind you to record the webinar; help with technical issues; and respond to chat questions.

Housekeeping Tips

1. Go to the bathroom 15 minutes before the webinar starts.
2. Put a sign on your door to alert colleagues you are busy and unattainable—then lock the door!
3. Have a glass of water handy.
4. Print out the presentation notes for safety, but do not staple them together.
5. Make sure everything is plugged in and works.
6. Breathe deeply.

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---Source: Citrix Online June 17, 2009 webinar ( Jeanne Hopkins is the Chief Marketing Officer for MarketingSherpa. Reach her at










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