Cracking the QR code in webinar presentations

Today’s guest post comes from friend and killer presentation designer Matthew Dyer in Columbus, OH. Catch him at or @mttwdyr on Twitter. 


It wasn’t that long ago that secret, encrypted codes were only found in movie plots. Whether you were looking for Jack Flack or Jumpin’ Jack Flash, the only way to crack these codes was with an 8-bit bucket of popcorn and an over priced soda. Today, smartphones give us an exciting advantage that Dabney Coleman and Whoopi Goldberg probably never imagined. 

I first learned about Quick Response codes, or QR codes, from a reference librarian named Katie. About a year ago, we were on a planning committee promoting an exhibit. I remember my ears perked up when she asked, “…what about using QR codes to promote it?”

What about using what?” we asked in anticipation. Katie described QR codes beautifully – as a way to easily supplement programming and printed materials with additional online resources for people with smartphones. We were intrigued, and our naiveté showed as we labeled each QR code on our marketing material, “QR CODE.”

Now we, as other organizations, no longer have to label QR codes. People are becoming aware of what they are and how to use them. You pull out your smart phone, you scan them with a QR code or barcode reader, and suddenly you’re Aladdin surfing to whole new worlds on a very wide web right in the palm of your hand.

QR codes are popping up everywhere, but I haven’t seen them show up much in training or presenting…yet. I say we change that. I’ve tried this practice in two presentation settings: in-person and online. I learned that unless you’re presenting on a huge screen that smartphones can read from the back of the room, you’ll have better success in webinars.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. When you’re putting together your next webinar, visit a QR Code generator like (there are many, just pick your favorite)
  2. Choose “Tweet” or “Twitter Status Update” from the menu (or whatever is most appropriate)
  3. Type in your status update (or whatever is most appropriate)
  4. Download your QR Code and place it in one of your slides

You’ll end up with something that looks like this:

Go ahead. Pull out your smartphone and scan it. You’ll automatically be taken to (you may have to log in) with a pre-populated tweet that reads, “@mtthwdyr says QR codes have a place in webinars. Do you agree?”

Imagine, if instead, that you had a similar QR code in your webinar. You could use it to supplement your presentation with links to bibliographic citations and additional facts. Or, you could use it to evangelize your message by including a hashtag and @ mention. Either way, your audience will be using their phones to engage with your content, rather than to respond to emails from the boss.

One final tip: be sure you prep your audience during your webinar housekeeping. If you’re generating Twitter status updates with QR codes, tell your audience to log in to Twitter on their smartphone Internet browser, and get their QR code readers ready. Doing so ahead of time will make sure the code does what it’s supposed to when you’re ready for it.

Once you’ve tried putting QR codes in your webinar, share what you think in the comments below. Chances are you’ll have cracked a code to webinar engagement, and your audience will start engaging with your content in a new way – and you didn’t even need a Cracker Jack decoder ring to get them to do it.

1 Comment

  1. Ellen Finkelstein

    I hadn’t thought of QR codes to generate tweets. But I think they’re a great idea for the last slide, to lead people to your website. This way, they don’t have to write it down.

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