Don’t Touch that Dial: Webinar Must-Do’s for Content Marketing

by Shelley Ryan on September 22, 2011 · 17 comments

So there I was in Cleveland, ready to deliver a 15-minute Fireside Chat about webinars at the first Content Marketing World event. And we ran out of time.

I worked pretty danged hard on that presentation. Thus I decided to record it — all 13 minutes! — so you could watch it for yourself. (Refresh your browser if it doesn’t load immediately.) Enjoy!

Thanks to Michael Goodman for lending his voice, too.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie Witt September 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Shelley, fantastic preso! I didn’t check my email once. :)


Shelley Ryan September 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Not even ONCE, Val? Coming from you, that’s high praise indeed! ;)


Marcus Schaller September 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm

So true about the gratuitous polling…”Raise your hand if you blah blah blah.” Then the bar graph pops up on the screen showing the shocking results. Snore.


Shelley Ryan September 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Maybe next webinar I’ll launch a poll that asks:

Do you respond to webinar polls?
__ Always
__ Never

Do you think anyone would get the irony, Marcus? ;)


chris uschan September 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

Awesome tips Shelley! Too many Webinars are a BWOT. You could almost apply this same list to presenters and moderators at face-to-face meetings.


Shelley Ryan September 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Agreed, Chris. But at least at face-to-face presentations, the audience is a bit more clandestine when they’re multitasking!


James September 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Brilliant advice!

Thanks for sharing.

Glad to come across a fellow BWOT squasher! I rarely use the term Webinar just because people assume it will be c**p – the name association has to go, along with the bullets of boredom!



Gary Jesch October 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Hi Shelley,

Nice presentation – some of that was pretty useful and a little funny. I wouldn’t mind having another glimpse at that Prezi file you were showing – I’m a big Prezi fan also. In fact, just the other day I did a webinar with a friend about improving attendance at webinars and other types of events. It was a full hour (maybe that is the subject of your next blog post) and explained a few things well, we hope. Maybe you’d like to take a look and send me your feedback. It’s on an automated webinar platform, in case you are interested. Visit – Thanks!


Shelley Ryan October 3, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Terrific, Gary! I’ll check out your webinar ASAP.


keith frazier October 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm

what a great webinar! survivors like me need to listen to keynotes more often…and I thought you were just a maven.


Shelley Ryan October 8, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I’m just happy that you stopped by and actually WATCHED this, Keith. ;)


Joshua October 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm

The fonts are yellow b/c yellow is the color of memory!

I really like how the slides have a 2 step pattern. That’s a technique I’m going to try out!


Shelley Ryan October 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Seriously, Joshua? Yellow is the color of memory? Maybe that’s why most highlighter pens are neon yellow…


Lara Solomon November 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Hey Shelley

Loved your preso, really wanted to get to content marketing world but didn’t make it.

My challenge with webinars is the person organising them, as usually I am just the presenter, they seem to be scared of doing anything interactive. I find that as the presenter it can be boring to present to no feedback, eg laughing at my jokes, any tips for livening up my presentation style to make it more interesting for me? I try to take questions as I go…..




Shelley Ryan November 8, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Howdy, Lara!

Inexperienced or part-time webinar producers are probably overwhelmed with all the techno-gizmos now available with a lot of web conferencing apps. Maybe they don’t know how to do polls, or they simply don’t have time to create them beforehand. It can be intimidating, especially when broadcasting to a live audience — so many things can go wrong. The good news is that webinar platforms have matured enough that unexpected glitches happen less frequently (in my experience, anyway).

If your organizer/host is using a webinar app that has an instant-feedback feature, tell your audience up-front that you’re going to ask them to USE it. My favorite app Adobe Connect, for example, has a semi-androgynous icon that lets participants raise their hand, agree, laugh, frown, and so on. You could say something like, “Click the blue guy to raise your hand so I know you spotted the blue guy!” Then you can ask them for quick non-verbal responses to other questions throughout your presentation.

But wait… what about the Q&A/Chat window? Cross your fingers that it’s not a One-Way Street, where the audience can’t see what other participants type, much less how you respond! If your organizers/hosts are worried that they’ll lose control of the incoming comments, encourage them to find out if there’s a “moderated chat” option. That’s another thing I love about Adobe Connect — my moderator and I can decide which comments or questions should be handled privately vs. which (including our responses) should be visible to everyone.

Asking your audience to share thoughts AND letting them see what their peers say changes the dynamic of the webinar experience completely. And it makes you, the speaker, feel a bit less isolated. Still, I’m not seeing that kind of interactivy in many webinars, maybe because the whole prospect is downright scary.

For what it’s worth, in the last six+ years of webinar production I’ve never seen anyone type a comment like, “Boy, this speaker sucks!!” (You might see that on Twitter, though.) And of the participants we surveyed after several MarketingProfs online seminars with a wide open chat window, only 10-15% felt the “side conversation” was distracting. Most said it added value to the content.

p.s. When you’re presenting, DON’T ask folks how the weather is… you’ll unleash a torrent of incoming texts that aren’t relevant to your topic. ;)


Judy Widener May 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Congratulations, Shelley, for the best pre-recorded webinar I’ve ever attended! You’ve renewed my hope that it’s possible to create an engaging, well paced, info-packed webinar. This should be required viewing for everyone who thinks their info is so important that doing a webinar is a moral imperative. I’m so tired of being shilled by people who are in love with their own voice and the info they think is sooo special (but is really ordinary and ubiquitous). I’ve read the book you mentioned, too. It’s right on the nose. Thank you for sharing your brilliance!


Shelley Ryan May 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Your feedback is just what I needed today, Judy! I’m about to launch a series of low-cost webinars about (of course) webinars and online presentations. Hearing from you puts extra boost in my rocket. :)

I’ll pass along your comment about Content Rules to Ann and C.C. You’re right, it’s a fantabulous book!


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