How to start your web seminar late (and get by with it)

There are some good reasons to purposefully start a web seminar a little bit late.  The best reason is that a good percentage of attendees are going to be late getting there (i.e., a previous meeting runs long, they forgot where they put the login info, or they’re just tardy).  

Problem 1:  If you start your web seminar exactly at the top of the hour, and the opening welcome script that gives instructions about how the interactivity of the day is going to flow gets done in a minute or two, then many attendees don’t hear what you want them to hear.

Problem 2:  If you start late to accommodate late arrivers (assuming that you have this positive reason and that you’re not starting late because of a negative like a later presenter), inevitably someone sitting in the audience will immediately send in a chat or Q&A submission snipping ‘you should start on time’ or ‘is this thing going to start soon?’  

Solved:  Use a countdown deck. 

Quickly, here’s how. 

  1. Create a set of slides that whose purpose is to cycle by those waiting for the event to begin.  Think of these like the preview slides you see at a movie theatre that are trying to sell you popcorn or telling you to turn off your cell phone.
  2. Plan that number of slides relative to a time increment that you’re going to flip them at. 
  3. Start them before the clock hits the top of the hour, and let them tell everyone who’s in the audience exactly what the countdown is before the event starts.

More deeply…

  • I use a set of 12 slides – duplicated
    • Content of those slides include variations of the following
      • The dial in phone number for the event
      • The phone number to event support in case they need help
      • A promotion of an upcoming event they should register for
      • A promotion for a past event whose recording is now posted in the event archive
      • Quips, quotes, or stats
      • Bios of the presenters
    • Set one I use for a cycling slide show
      • I set those slides to change every 15 seconds
      • I start the cycling slide show about ½ hour before the event starts to catch any very early entrants
    • Set two I use for the countdown deck
      • This set is identical to the first, except that on each slide I add a callout (usually a star auto-shape)
      • In the first slide, that star has text inside that says “This event will start promptly in 3 minutes”
      • In the second slide, that star (usually on a little different spot on the slide than on the first slide), the text says, “This event will start promptly in 2 minutes, 45 seconds”
      • This set I start at one minute before the top of the hour, meaning that my 12 slides, at 15 seconds each, count down to a start time at two minutes past the top of the hour.

Now the audience knows exactly what’s going on.  It’s not so late that everyone is mad.  And attendees ready to be engaged are increased.  Every time.

Use a countdown deck to start late and create happy attendees.