Meghan Dotter is the principal at Portico Presentations. Follow presentation content and delivery discussions @PorticoPR and The Present Better Blog at

Webinars are a great way to reach more people at a lower cost. They’re also a highly challenging way to create a connection to those people. The area where many presenters fall short in adapting to the remote format is at the beginning. We have from 7–30 seconds for our audience to decide whether we are credible or not, so getting off to a seamless start is critical.

  1. Reward those who log on early. Twenty minutes before your Webinar begins, rotate slides. Preview factoids or pose questions about the material you’ll cover, recreating the preview experience you might have in a movie theater. This will help you avoid situations where a person logs on ten minutes early, and then starts catching up on email, or a phone call …  and then realizes 5 minutes too late that the Webinar has already started.
  2. Get out of the blocks quickly. As with any presentation, your audience decides on their level of interest fairly quickly (we’re talking 30–90 seconds). So why is that many Webinars keep the introduction slide up several minutes once the event has started? Show the title, along with photos of the presenters (if you’re not visible by video), and then move along by engaging them visually with diagrams and photos that support your messages.
  3. Assign a technical point person. As the presenter, you need to be focused on your words, slides, and interaction with the audience. It’s not the time to troubleshoot technical issues, from log-ins to sound or enabling chat. Recruit someone to be your technical point person, providing their name and contact information in the Webinar invite, rotating introduction slides. And then give them a big thank you for giving you peace of mind and the space to focus on your presentation.