Producers, Managers
and Convenors

Biggest Webinar & Virtual Meeting Mistakes

  • What are the biggest mistakes people make on Webinars?
  • How can you avoid the virtual meeting errors others make?
  • How can you make your online presentation more engaging or just BETTER?

With Coronavirus (COVID-19) there has been a stampede to get online. Get meetings, conferences, presentations and just catch-ups all online. You can use Facebook Live, Zoom, GOTO Webinar or whatever technology you want. But it is not the technology that matters!

I have been chatting with my colleagues and asking them what the biggest mistakes are they have seen presenting online.
If we can short cut our learning process and not make these mistakes ourselves, we will be more effective.

Many of these issues are reflected in face to face meetings and events as well, so they will not come as a surprise.

So here is what NOT to do:

Ignore the Timing
If you say start at 3pm then start on time. Maybe give a minute or two but get started on time. Also end on time. If you announce a one hour meeting, run it for one hour. If you need to go over, ask permission or allow it to be optional.

Waffle On
When running an online meeting, the distractions are magnified. So many people have the meeting running while they are doing something else (I am on a webinar as I write this). So don’t waffle on. Less is best. If it used to be a one hour meeting, make it 30 minutes. You won’t hold their attention so don’t expect to.

Be Boring
You have to channel your inner radio host. If you are the manager, you have to get people engaged. This means start the meeting early and start chatting. How are we feeling, what’s your favourite coffee, who’s wearing pants!?!? Whatever, start with a bit of fun. Remember, the only thing worse than being boring is dead air (see next one).

Dead Air
On radio, dead air is almost forbidden. Nothing is worse. In fact, many radio stations have built in that if there is dead air for a short period, a message kicks in. So saying, “We are just going to wait for the others to join us” and paauuuuuuse is a killer. You have to learn how to Waffle Relevantly.

Go Slowly
Our ability to consume has increased – it has had to with the bombardment of media out there. So speed up. Talk a little faster than conversationally, only use pauses for effect, use more slides and change them rapidly, and give more energy. You will get higher engagement when you are able to convey information in this way.

Have No Idea About The Tech
I get the technology is new. I get you have a lot on. But you need to be comfortable with it. Run a practice session. Spend time inviting people on and off as guest presenters. Watch other videos on how to use the system. But if it becomes horribly apparent that you don’t know what you are doing, we will tune out. Even if you know your stuff, you got to know how to share it.

Try and Do It All Yourself
There is so much to do when hosting an online event. Particularly if it is with a large number of people. So don’t try and do it all yourself. Have someone else manage the chat or the Q&A or the technology. Free yourself up so you can focus on the people on the session. If you are having multiple speakers, you MUST have an event host. (Naturally I would suggest me!!) Someone has to be in control of what is happening.

Have Rubbish Audio
In the online world, Audio is far more important than Video. Get it right. Don’t use the laptop microphone. Have a decent microphone either in the webcam, external to the system or even a lapel microphone. You MUST get the audio right. People will often turn off the video if the video is bad, but still listen. But if it is hard to listen or even hurts to listen, they will leave.

Camera Angle Showing Nasal Hair
How many online sessions have you been on where you are looking up the persons nose or their face is too close to the screen or they are miles away and you can’t see them. It is easy to prop up your camera and get a decent framing on you. Prop it on a box of paper, use a tripod, I have even seen people put their laptop on the ironing board. Get the camera angle right so it is not a distraction.

Make Assumptions on Who is On the Call
Many of my female friends are telling me they are tired of being referred to as “guys”. Other assumptions are also being made. As an MC I am getting more requests to not refer to “ladies and gentlemen”. So it pays to be aware of who is on the call. Pick a collective term that applies to them all. Being inclusive is what this online process is all about.

Try to Be Someone You Are Not
Due to the intimacy of this kind of broadcasting, you cannot pretend to be something you aren’t. Be authentic. Be real. If you make a mistake, go with it. We don’t want you to be perfect, but we do want you to be good. It you are too busy trying to prove how good you are then we lose some of the best value that you have. This leads into the next point.

The final point is the most important. Too often the presenter forgets it is not about them. It is allllll about the people on the call. Don’t waste time telling us how good you are. We don’t care. We are happy to hear a story about you if it has a learning for us. But give us something. An idea, a solution, some excitement, a laugh, some fun, some belonging, just give us something and make it about us.

There are so many more mistakes people make. I am sure you have your favourite!

So how can you and your speakers get better with presenting online for your next event?

Warwick Merry is a Certified Speaking Professional and a doubly Certified Virtual Presenter. He hosts, produces and speaks at events to inspire and energise the delegates, whether it is online or face to face. Find out more at

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