Webinars have changed in recent times, so if you’re still doing them the way you were a few years ago, it may be time for an update. The same can be said of your webinar slide deck.
Before video webinars were as common as they are today — when audio plus slides was the most common webinar delivery format — slides were the only visual element in most webinars.
But video webinars are now the most common webinar format in Australia, preferred by 31% of respondents in our State of Webinar Marketing 2020 research, released last month. This puts them just ahead of audio-plus-slide formats, which were nominated by 27%. Access our State of Webinar Marketing 2020 here.
What that means is that these days, slides are more often a visual aid rather than the focal point of a webinar — that role belongs to your presenters (particularly if they’re engaging speakers).
In video webinars, slides should be streamlined and able to be taken in at a glance. They should let the audience know what’s coming up and how to interact over your webinar platform.
They should also emphasise and summarise key points to help the audience absorb and remember the information being shared by the presenter.
To be fair, audio webinars should follow the same principles. It may be tempting to pack in plenty of detail to demonstrate that you’re imparting lots of valuable information.
But it’s actually more important to emphasise the key point your speaker is making at any given time to ensure the audience retains the information you’re sharing and, in doing so, experiences the value you’re offering.
Foundations of a great webinar slide deck
So what makes a great webinar slide deck? Just as webinars come in different formats, styles and lengths, there’s no one-size-fits-all template for slide decks.
But there is a process you might like to consider when developing your next slide deck, some principles it’s worth adhering to, a few rules to remember, and some tips we can share from our own experiences — many, many experiences — creating webinar slide decks.
In general, webinar slides should:
- Be concise
- Be visually uncluttered
- Focus on key facts and insights
- Summarise rather than detail
- Load quickly
- Offer some variety
- Reflect your brand
- Be readable at a glance.
Choose bullet points over whole paragraphs, single visuals over multiple images, and simple graphics over complex charts and spreadsheets.
As with all slide presentations, it pays to have as many slides as you need — but no more. Think of extraneous slides as unnecessary baggage — and remove them before your digital event.
How many slides do I need for my webinar?
Webinars commonly range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes in length — and some go even longer. But the most common lengths are 45 minutes and 60 minutes, according to our most recent Redback Report. Download the 2020 Investor Relations Report.
As mentioned, there’s no one-size-fits all rule when it comes to the number of slides you should show, but if you’ve never created a webinar slide deck before, a general rule of thumb is to expect to show one slide per minute of content.
These won’t be spread out evenly throughout your webinar, when you allow time for introductions, interactive polls and the Q&A, so it might be more helpful to think about one slide per major point.
For a 30-minute, single-presenter video webinar with a 10-minute Q&A, you might expect to show 20 to 40 slides.
The exceptions to this are when your webinar utilises very interactive formats, such as an informal interview-style webinar or fireside chat, a video panel discussion, or long-form audience Q&A — when less is definitely more!
Tip: Remember, slides are a visual aid. You can always link to more detailed resources such as websites, eBooks and whitepapers when it comes to providing in-depth information on complex topics.
A framework for developing webinar slide content
As with all things webinar, you should create your slide deck to match the structure and flow of your content.
Broadly speaking, map out your content outline, ensure your slides are visually appealing, and include essential webinar elements such as your title slide, presenter bios, and so on.
Here’s a process you might wish to follow:
- Content: What do I want to say?
- Write down your content outline
- Break it down into core topics
- Break each topic down into key points
- Include a slide for every new idea, fact, figure or quote.
Tip: At this point you should be thinking about whether your webinar can be structured into short, discrete segments, particularly for video webinars. This will enable you to edit your full-length webinar video into shorter, bite-sized videos as part of your broader content program.
- Engage your audience
- Start with an engaging story, anecdote, quote or fact to get your audience’s attention
- Emphasise key concepts with visual elements such as images or simple graphics and charts where you can
- Decide where you will include interactive elements such as polls and audience Q&A and include slides for these.
- Plan your presentation slide-by-slide
- There are some slides every webinar should have, such as a title slide, presenter bios, an introduction and others (see next section). Build them into your slide presentation.
- Have a dry run-through to check the flow, length and effectiveness of your planned slide deck before you create the slides
- Edit your planned slided deck accordingly.
Tip: Include notes for each slide to help your presenters remember all the key points they need to make. You can refer to them via autocue, teleprompter or iPad during the webinar but you don’t need to include them in the slides you provide in your resource pack.
- Visual elements and design
- Choose your look and feel. Keep your slide design uncluttered and avoid background graphic elements
- Have a variety of designs for different types of slides, such as title, introduction, presenter bios and general information slides
- Include your visual elements
- Keep file sizes small — as long as your images are clear — to ensure quick load times on your webinar platform
- Reflect your brand colours in your slide design or consider how your slides will look viewed in the webinar platform, particularly if it can be branded with your corporate brand.
Tip: If you’re running a series of webinars or virtual events, you may wish to give it a brand of its own.
- Proof and rehearse
- Proof the copy to ensure it’s consistent and makes sense
- Don’t forget to check presenter names and titles with them directly — don’t rely on LinkedIn — and spell-check everything to avoid on-screen typos.
- Rehearse the flow of your presentation, moving through your actual slide deck to ensure it works the way you expected it to.
What slides do I need?
Here are some of the key slides you may need for your webinar slide presentation. Whether you need them all will depend on whether you have a moderator and presenters, how interactive your webinar will be, and how many speakers you have.
- Title slide – What’s your webinar called, including your company logo, sponsors and website and any event hashtags
- Presenters – Who’s moderating or presenting, and where are they from?
- Agenda – An overview of what’s in store including the order of events, expected webinar length, speaker sequence and Q&A time
- Logistics – Instructions to access local webinar support or telephone dial-in numbers if these are available from your webinar provider, and how to ask questions
- Introduction – Introduces the theme and why it’s important to your audience
- Presenter bio – Your speaker’s name, title, photo and a brief biography
- Topic – Particular topics about to be covered
- Bullet points – No more bullet points than can be read at a glance
- Quote – Style for quotes including attributed source
- Polls – Include your poll question and the multiple choice options
- Q&A – Call for questions from the audience
- Conclusion – Summarises the event content
- End slide – Includes any call to action, additional resources, website address, contact details
- Holding slide – To be used in case a presenter is having technical difficulties. Features the presenter’s topic, photo and a line explaining you are attempting to reconnect with the speaker.
Tip: Create a webinar slide deck template containing the above slides to shorten the process for future webinars.
Most great webinars include an informative, engaging slide deck that lets the audience know what’s coming up, how to interact over your webinar platform, and acts as a visual aid to reinforce and emphasise the key information that’s being shared.
Make sure your moderator and speakers are trained on your webinar platform — including how to move their own slides, particularly if they’re presenting remotely. If you’re presenting from a broadcast studio, your technician may be able to help.
Don’t stay too long on any one slide, and always stay in time with your slides to avoid confusing your audience.
Finally, include your slides in the available resources via your webinar platform, and don’t forget that slides can have a life of their own after your digital event via platforms such as Slideshare.