How to Determine the Proper Webinar Length

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

60 Minutes is not just a popular news program: It’s also the optimal time for most webinars. No, not Sunday nights at 7 p.m., but 60 minutes in length. That time works for several reasons, but the attention span of your potential audience is high on the list.

Modern technology with all of its creature comforts and conveniences has led to a much busier lifestyle than that of previous generations. The technology is great for maximizing our time, but not so great when it comes to allowing people to absorb it all. That comes with a price. Research shows our increased activity in people’s daily lives has led to a shorter attention span.

That level of attentiveness diminishes further when we’re plunked down in front of a computer screen. Why? Because that time online is often divided between checking e-mail, using social media, and playing Candy Crush, all while eating lunch.

It’s easy to see how the Internet has at least partly supplanted the TV, with people being able to watch it, eat, and do something else at the same time. So along comes that all-day webinar on understanding the latest version of Microsoft Office, and you get almost as excited as you would about watching a congressional filibuster on C-SPAN.

Maybe an all-day training session delivered via the webinar has value, but you’d be hard-pressed to make that argument for a marketing presentation. That’s when that pesky axiom “Less is more” comes to mind.

So although 60 minutes is a perfect timeframe for a webinar, you can go slightly longer or shorter to fit your content. Try to never go less than 20 minutes. Otherwise, people may not even bother to log on, never mind the fact that you won’t be able to get enough information to your audience in that short period of time.