I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but I can’t help shaking my head in bemused exasperation when I see a webinar promoted with a starting time but no time zone. Even if your subject is intended for a local audience, others are going to see the announcement as well. You might as well be explicit about which time zone you are using.
While we are on the subject, it’s worth remembering that United States time zones have different abbreviations inside and outside of Daylight Saving Time. The difference can be critical for foreign audiences trying to figure out their local equivalent. That means you cannot use “PDT” and “PST” interchangeably… They signify different global times. Figure out which one applies to your event date and use it correctly.
If you are reading this from outside North America, our most commonly used time zones covering California to New York are:
- Pacific (PDT or PST)
- Mountain (MDT or MST)
- Central (CDT or CST)
- Eastern (EDT or EST)
A “D” in the middle indicates that the time is in Daylight Saving Time. An “S” in the middle indicates Standard time. Some of our states do not observe Daylight Saving Time when the rest of the country does.
If you are promoting your US event for an international audience, it is important to use a more specific time zone indicator. If you say your webcast starts at “10:00am Eastern” or “2:00pm Central” you may confuse people in Europe, Australia, and other locations that use those same shorthand time zone designations.
Time zones and time conversions can be confusing. Your best bet is to include a global lookup for the event so anyone anywhere in the world can see the starting time in their local time. I use an online tool at www.timeanddate.com. If you use their Fixed Time World Clock, you can put in the starting time and day of your event in whatever time zone you like. Click a button and it generates a page with the corresponding time for major cities around the world. Just include a hyperlink to that results page and your potential audiences can look up their local starting time no matter where they are. The site keeps track of all local Daylight Saving Time variances so you don’t have to. Here’s an example of a results page. I wrote this blog post at 2:20pm in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can see what time that was for you by clicking here.
Let’s all work at avoiding angry emails from webinar registrants who tried to join the event at the wrong time because they misunderstood the instructions!