How to Respect a Webinar Audience’s Time

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

Here’s another way to alienate a webinar audience: Don’t respect your attendees’ time. Some producers run their webinars past their end time, whereas others try to fill up the whole session by stretching the content. Avoid both.

Most webinars average 45–60 minutes in length; however, that does not mean that you should automatically schedule all of your events for that length. What if you only have 20 minutes of great content? Should you stretch it out? Probably not because you should never add filler — your audience can recognize it for what it is.

Further, if your webinar is scheduled for one hour, make sure to stop when the hour is up. Respect the audience’s time, and they will appreciate you more. Here are some points to remember:

  • Do not exceed the advertised webinar length: When you run over, you’re forcing the participant to make a decision that they don’t want to make. Not only does it make you look unprofessional, you put them in the tough position of deciding between finishing your event or making it to their next meeting on time.

  • Schedule your webinar length based on your content: Just because you have 60 minutes doesn’t mean you should use the entire time, especially if your content doesn’t support it. Determine how long it’s going to take to make your presentation, and then add 10–15 minutes for Q&A.

    For example, if you need 30 minutes to present your content, include 15 minutes for Q&A, making it a 45-minute webinar. People know when they are getting filler and they’ll drop off. Besides, a busy participant will appreciate the shorter time.

  • Start a tad late: It’s fairly standard practice to start webinars about two minutes after the hour to allow attendees running from another meeting to get to their computer, put on a headset, and log in.

    If you are running into unpreventable technical errors that are forcing you to start a little behind schedule, be sure your webinar moderator is keeping attendees completely in-the-know about what’s going on and when your anticipated start time will be.

  • End a tad early: If you still have five or ten minutes left in your allotted time but your presentation is complete and no more questions are coming in, don’t be afraid to end your webinar early. Your audience won’t think less of you — they will thank you and appreciate getting a few minutes back. In fact, this could earn you additional goodwill.