I usually write about tips for being a good web presenter, but I thought I would change the focus to speak to individuals who organize and set up web events using somebody else to speak. You may call upon presenters within your own organization or invite guests from outside your company. There may be one presenter or several. No matter what the specifics, there are little things you can do to make your speakers more comfortable and effective at accomplishing your webinar goals, while also giving them confidence in your professional competence and support for them.
Here is a quick checklist:
1) Put all communications in writing. Never rely on memory of telephone calls and vocal agreements. Have a planning document or email correspondence handy for reference by all parties. After planning calls, send an email summarizing what was agreed.
2) Give speakers the background of your event. Is it part of a series? What topics have come before and what comes later? Give them links to recordings of earlier webinars in the series. Is it part of a larger marketing or promotional/educational campaign? Let them see the other materials and summarize for them the main thrust of the campaign.
3) Specify the goals of your webinar. What are you driving the audience to do, know, believe? What will be your criteria for judging whether you succeeded or not?
4) Agree on the promotional pitch and key take-aways for the session. The title isn’t the important thing. The important thing is the summary value proposition and benefits you will promise the audience. Work with your presenter up front to create a marketing/promotional cheat sheet that will be used to drive registration/attendance. “You will learn…” and “You will see…” statements tell the presenter what materials must be included, because they have been promised to the audience that elected to show up based purely on those statements.
5) Solidify time commitments up front. Book your speaker for a half hour before the scheduled start time of the event and make sure they know the pre-event time is a scheduled part of the session time that they are committing to.
6) Tell your speaker their expected presentation duration. Figure out how many people are speaking, how much time you will spend on “wrapper material” and whether you will include a distinct Q&A session. Based on that, tell your speaker how long they should be prepared to talk for. Make it clear that you expect them to come in on time.
7) Schedule rehearsals and event day activities with electronic calendar appointments. Include the web and phone access information. Make sure it is correct. Include passwords and access codes. Put a 10-15 minute reminder alert on the appointment.
8) Give presenters a clear and unambiguous deadline for submitting their slides. Give yourself enough time to collate, edit, upload, and convert slides (if necessary for your situation).
9) Be prepared at the start of your session. Have the slides uploaded or ready to display. Don’t waste their time during a scheduled rehearsal waiting for you to get the conferencing room set up.
10) Be ready before they are. Be on the phone conference call and in the conferencing room at least 3 minutes before your scheduled start time. You should be ready and waiting for them to arrive so that you do not waste their time.
11) Have a clear and easy to follow technical familiarization orientation planned for your first rehearsal. Tell the speakers what they need to know to be effective in using the web controls. Be organized, having thought through what you will show them and how you will present it in a concise manner that does not overwhelm them.
12) Work out the flow of the presentation ahead of time and present it clearly during your rehearsal. Discuss and agree on whether presenters introduce each other or throw back to you for introductions between speakers.
As an organizer, your job is to support the presenter so they can concentrate on being effective in supporting your goals. Take the time to plan, prepare, and execute this function with the same professionalism you expect from them.