Webinar Best Practices
By partnering with community legal clinics and community organizations to produce these webinars, we have developed best practices in how to plan, facilitate, and promote public legal education webinars.
Selecting the right tool
Select a webinar tool that is the best fit for your audience. Is your audience likely to have a microphone or web cam? Is an integrated telephone option essential for their participation? Is a toll-free phone number important in making it accessible/affordable? Will participants be comfortable sharing comments and feedback by live chat only? If so, should you set up your webinar so that users can share chat messages with other participants or only the presenters?
Gear the material toward the intended audience
Your Legal Rights webinars are aimed at service providers who may not have a legal background. Provide appropriate disclaimers and ground rules to ensure participants do not seek legal advice during the webinar or provide too much information about their own, or their client's, personal circumstances.
There are two audiences for your webinar: People who register for your live presentation, and a much larger, more diverse audience, who will watch and listen to the archived version on the Your Legal Rights website. We encourage our presenting organizations to work with us to develop a title and description of the webinar content that is suitable for the widest possible audience.
Keep it short
Our attention span online and on a conference call is shorter than for an in-person event, so try to keep the webinar length to less than one hour. Breaking the information into separate chunks or smaller webinars is ideal.
Provide PowerPoint presentation slides
Audiences need to follow along as they listen, so it helps to have images rather than just blocks of text. For more tips specific to presentation slides, see PowerPoint presentation tips below.
Prepare participants in advance
Ensure participants have copies of presentation slides or handouts after and preferably before the webinar so they don't feel rushed to make notes during the presentation.
Provide advance and same-day technical support
Provide the necessary supports people need to join in (technical help, walk-throughs, reminders).
Draw people out and engage audiences often
- Remember to pause long enough to let people ask questions.
- Try to draw out the audience with short questions, true or false, "raise your hand," etc.
- Have a co-presenter help you take questions from users and provide you with the feedback for follow-up.
- Provide opportunities for evaluation afterward and share results with the presenters.
- Provide a chance for people who listen to the webinar later to ask questions or provide comments to be shared with the presenters.
PowerPoint presentation tips
At CLEO we work with presenters from legal clinics and other community agencies to prepare PowerPoint presentations that provide the visuals for our public legal education webinars.
Tips for presentation slides: content
- Provide a welcome message and instructional tips at the beginning of the presentation to help those in your live audience unfamiliar with webinars to get started and understand how the webinar will be facilitated. Include an overview or table of contents slide near the beginning so the audience knows what order to expect and understands when there will be breaks for questions and comments.
- Don't overdo background information. Time is short and the average audience just wants the "meat" of the topic.
- Slides should highlight only key points that will be explained in detail during your presentation. If a comprehensive stand-alone resource is also required, prepare a detailed handout version to make available after the presentation.
- Use real-life examples to explain and illustrate your points (names changed or omitted, of course), and ask your audience to offer their experiences as these may vary among participants and everyone benefits from the exchange of information.
- Slides and the live presentation should be in plain language. Avoid using "legalese".
- Avoid using unexplained acronyms, abbreviations, or local terms that would be unfamiliar to a wider audience.
- Avoid slides with information that may soon be out of date such as costs or dates. Instead, link to sites where this information is always current
- Prepare information on follow-up or recommended next steps to include at the end of the presentation.
Tips for presentation slides: design and appearance
- Avoid having too many text-heavy slides or small fonts.
- Limit the number of different fonts, background styles, and themes in your slide show.
- Colourful and relevant graphics or photos can enhance presentation points. Some presenters use free clip art and borrowed stock images in their slides.
- Avoid too many hyperlinks within the text of your slides. While these may be handy for people who download the presentation slides separately, most webinar tools won't allow these to be "hot" or hyperlinked during the webinar. It's better to present a short number of website addresses at the end than a series of embedded links throughout.
Finalizing the presentation
- Make sure the presentation fits the content description and intended audiences.
- Do a final proofread to catch typos, and ensure that names are correct, quotation marks are used properly, capitalization is consistent, and grammatical structure in bulleted lists is correct.
We have also discovered this article that has helped us along the way:
For more information
To find out more and get involved, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.