Killer Webinars Draw a crowd. Make an impact. And NEVER be boring. Thu, 03 Apr 2014 21:01:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Slides, Minutes or Gallons? How Do You Measure a Presentation? Wed, 28 Mar 2012 16:43:49 +0000


Yesterday I was looking at someone’s PowerPoint deck, offering some quick feedback on ways she could improve it for her upcoming webinar.  (Unsolicited feedback, thank you very much. I just can’t keep my big mouth shut.)  There were 18 slides, each loaded with texty bullets.

I suggested she triple or even quadruple the number of slides by breaking all of that out into a single concept, idea or factoid per slide.

“They told me I’d have enough time for only ten slides.”

You can bet that “they” meant she has roughly ten minutes on the webinar agenda.  Maybe fifteen.  And “they” think that a speaker should unveil one new slide every 1-2 minutes.

Webinar audiences are not goldfish. They’re worse.

You’ve probably heard that when it comes to media (radio, TV, Web, or whatever gadget you’re holding) people have an attention span shorter than a goldfish’s.*  I’m not saying you must offer new visual stimuli every 7.3 seconds during your webinar, of course.  But you do need to dangle something interesting for your participants to look at before they feel an impulse to swim off to Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram.

So go on, swing a sledgehammer at those bullet-ridden slides.  Break them up and streamline the text to just a few key words, numbers or images.  Verbosity belongs in your webinar script and handout, not on the screen.

*Some fishy footnotes

  • A study conducted by the Center for Media and Public Affairs in 2000 showed the average soundbite length for the presidential candidates on the network nightly news has dropped to 7.3 seconds, a 26% decline since 1988 (9.8 seconds) and an 83% drop from the 1968 presidential election.   And last year NPR reported that the average length of a soundbite in broadcast news stories is a little under nine seconds.  Translation?  Soundbites are shrinking to match our current attention span.  (Or perhaps the media itself has attention deficit disorder.)
  • Peter Shankman once claimed that consumers have a 2.6 second attention span, but I’m pretty sure he was exaggerating.
  • It takes about nine seconds to say something that’s 140 characters in length.
  • Researchers with too much time on their hands believe that the attention span of a goldfish lasts 3-9 seconds.  Goldfish have a memory span of three months, though.
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Don’t Touch that Dial: Webinar Must-Do’s for Content Marketing Thu, 22 Sep 2011 20:24:40 +0000

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.

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What about kinetic typography? Thu, 04 Aug 2011 23:02:16 +0000

That’s a fancy term for MOVING TEXT.

I’m on a nonstop quest to make webinars more engaging (“More cowbell!”), so I’m exploring stuff like animation and kinetic typography.  I came across this example.

Why share it here?  Because it’s cool — and it’s friggin’ hilarious!

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.
Typography Animation project for class.
Poem by Taylor Mali (
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Honor the TED Commandments Tue, 17 May 2011 23:18:15 +0000

I love that I can watch amazing presentations on   The speakers always inspire me… and spark a bit of consternation, too.  Could someone deliver a webinar as compellingly as a TED talk?

Take a look at the “stone tablet” that you will receive if you’re ever invited to step onto a TED stage.  I’ll bet you can apply these commandments to an online presentation as well.

The TED Commandments

These work for webinars, too! But they would be easier to read on a Kindle.

Just in case you’ve misplaced your stone-tablet-non-glare reading glasses, here are those commandments again:

1 Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.
2 Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
3 Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion.
4 Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
5 Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.
6 Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
7 Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
8 Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
9 Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
10 Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee.

Anyone got a chisel?

Hang on a minute. I believe you CAN break the ninth commandment in a webinar,
if  — and ONLY if — you do two things:

  • Write your script exactly the way you talk so that you sound natural.
  • Don’t dump the text of your script into slide bullets. Capiche?

I’d love to know if you’d change anything etched on this list!

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