When you host a multi-speaker webinar, one of your biggest concerns, outside of technology playing nice, is likely to be whether or not your speakers will stay on track during the event. As a moderator for many different webinars, I have worked with hosts who are very adept at keeping the conversation on topic and others who needed improvement. It’s very easy to get off track and go over time, or even speak too fast due to nerves and leave too much time at the end of the presentation. Avoid both of these possibilities by using these tips to stay on track.
Be sure you prepare in advance. Once you’ve chosen your speakers, send them information about the time limit. Make it clear that they need to be flexible to speak shorter or longer if another speaker before them doesn’t stick to their time limit, or a situation arises that changes the schedule.
Provide an agenda to all speakers. If your guest speakers see the agenda and how much time they have for their presentation, they’ll be a lot more likely to stay on track. When they see how the entire event is coming together, they’ll understand better how they’ll fit in. Be clear on your expectations of guests. Make sure during your prep that you explain to them what you expect of them, in a kind way that helps them understand how things will go. Let them know what type of sign they can expect as their time draws to a close.
Ask guests to submit their presentation in advance. It also helps if you ask them to submit their slide show in advance. That way you can see that they are prepared and you can each have a copy of the presentation if something should go wrong with technology.
Ask guest how they plan to stay on time. Another way to accomplish time tracking is to ask the speakers how they like to stay on track. Do they want you to send them a text message when they have five minutes left so they can wrap it up?
If you’re not going to remind them, then it’s important to ask that they set up something for themselves to stay on track with their time. Keeping on track with time is important when you have multiple speakers and guests.
Build extra time into the webinar plan. If the event is long, you can build in extra time by having an intermission after each speaker. This can be time for people to chat and socialize in the chat box, and even time for event attendees to ask questions.
Remember practice makes perfect. If possible, have a practice session with the speakers to help them learn to stay on track. Sometimes what you write down takes a lot longer (or shorter) than when you actual speak it out loud.
Taking the extra time to prepare guest speakers and practicing each part of the presentation (including introducing each speaker so you, yourself do not get off track) is a great way to ensure that your webinar is all that you want it to be.