Production Tip: Do Your Webinar Backwards

by Shelley Ryan on October 8, 2010 · 8 comments

Backwards, she says? Has she gone nuts?”  No, I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy. At least not in this area.

I’ll explain why and when this approach works, and I’ll suggest a process if you want to try it yourself.  First, you can take a gander at a recent example that Killer Webinars produced for Accelerance.  I know you won’t want to watch all 56 minutes unless, of course, you are in the mood for some offshore software development.

Important: After you hit the PLAY arrow, use the Full Screen toggle button in the lower right of the player. (It looks like an X to the naked eye.) Then you’ll be able to jump around using the Content list on the left.  Come back here after you’ve had a look around.

See anything different from other webinars?

Probably not.   There’s a presentation, followed by live Q&A, ending with a soft pitch from the sponsor.  But there WAS one difference the audience noted: “It was the best webinar I ever attended!”

Accelerance had done two live webinars BEFORE this one in a fairly typical way: They invited a client and an IT vendor to talk about a case study and answer questions from the audience.  Everyone prepared his own slides for the time allotted to his part of the one-hour broadcast.  Like most folks who aren’t professional speakers, they discussed who would say what and when… but they didn’t rehearse.  You can probably guess how those webinars turned out.

Control yourself, please

Since Accelerance planned to continue featuring client/vendor case studies, I suggested we put the webinar truck in reverse gear and drive production from the rear-view mirror.

  1. Email the client and IT vendor some questions you’d like them to address.
  2. Interview them individually and record each conversation (we used a Skype plug-in).
  3. Edit the audio relentlessly until you have only the best bits (we used Audacity).
  4. Create a ton of fantastic slides that support the audio content (yes, Powerpoint).
  5. Synch the slides with the audio track (we used Camtasia).
  6. Render the presentation in a video file format that your web conferencing platform supports (we used .FLV for Acrobat Connect Pro).
  7. Play the thing to your live audience and handle their questions when it ends.

I left out a lot of detail here, but I think you get the idea.  It’s a huge amount of work, too.  But the speakers invited by Accelerance loved the result because they didn’t have to do a heck of a lot themselves, and we made them look good!

When is backwards better?

There are a lot of reasons why this extra effort is worthwhile, but I can sum them up in one word: Quality. Consider using this approach yourself when…

  • You’re doing a webinar with an expert who’s not what you’d call a well-trained speaker.
  • The topic “feels better” as a back-and-forth conversation (think stories, case studies, etc.).
  • You’re planning to re-purpose the content in other ways later.
  • You have the control freak gene in your DNA.

Did I already mention that this isn’t easy?  Don’t let that stop you.  Like hosting a dinner party, each time you do it you’ll discover shortcuts along the way.  Ask me about those sometime!  :)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Vetter October 16, 2010 at 8:01 am

Thanks, Shelley. That’s an interesting model of producing a webinar.

You mention at the end, “Like hosting a dinner party, each time you do it you’ll discover shortcuts along the way. Ask me about those sometime! :)” So, I’m asking! What are some of the shortcuts you’ve discovered?


Shelley Ryan October 17, 2010 at 1:43 am

Hi, Jim! Here’s one BIG shortcut… after you record your interview(s), send the audio file to a transcription service like Then you can take their Word doc and red-line what you think could/should be removed.

Use a virtual assistant or someone you find on,, or another outsourcing site to make the “big” edits to the audio file, based on your red-lined transcript. You can fine-tune the end result with the free downloadable tool Audacity.

I think I’ll have enough tips to fill a book soon… but I hope those help for now!


Inderpreet January 13, 2011 at 4:58 am

Interesting article Shelley.
Just to add, webinar hosts can also promote their webinars on multiple listings site such as which allows for a free listing. With social media integration, WebinarBucket allows the webinar to be promoted on multiple sites plus a regular list of hits and subscriptions on the website.


Shelley Ryan January 13, 2011 at 10:19 am

Very true, Inderpreet! There are also webinar listers like the aptly named I’ve got a number of others bookmarked as well… maybe that’s another blog post I should write, hmm?

I’ll be sure to check out your site soon. Thanks for dropping by!


Craig Hadden - Remote Possibilities January 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Excellent ideas, Shelley, including the tip about using a transcription service.

And I love the humour in your writing! Keep up the good work.


Shelley Ryan January 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Thanks, Craig! My best ideas usually hit me AFTER I’ve done something the wrong way. ;)


Troy Herrera December 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Hello Shelley,

I’m new to Camtasia, so can you share how you import your PowerPoint file into Camtasia to add and sync audio? According to Camtasia you should record in PowerPoint via the Camtasia add-in, but I’d like to do as you describe, record the audio separately and then add the PowerPoint and audio and sync in Camtasia?


Shelley Ryan December 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Thanks for the question, Troy! You need to make each PPT slide an individual graphic file that you can then put into Camtasia’s clip bin via the “Import Media” feature. There’s a couple of ways to do this.

In PPT, you could do File > Save As…, then choose either the .jpg or .png format. A dialog window will ask if you want to export one or ALL of the slides.

To have more flexibility in image size/resolution, I purchased an inexpensive PPT add-in called RnR Image Export.

In either case, the nice thing is that the exported slide images are numbered sequentially, so it makes it easy to drag them all at once from your Camtasia clip bin to the timeline. Just bear in mind when you’re creating your slides that you don’t want to use any animation or builds in the individual slides, because they’ll be useless in the resulting images. Plan to apply transitions or special effects with Camtasia instead.

Does that help? Hope so!


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