Learning Objectives

  • Identify strategies for running a webinar.
  • Demonstrate strategies for managing Q&A online.

A webinar is a “web seminar” where a presenter uses video conferencing tools to present information to an audience. Presenters in a webinar usually present information to their audience using presentations slides.

In addition, webinars typically provide the audience opportunities to interact with the presenter through something like a chat or poll.

Webinars have become increasingly common in business environments as a way to present information to employees and customers or clients. Webinars have also become more common in higher education as a way of offering online lectures or seminars.

How to: Run an interactive webinar

This video from Manchester Metropolitan University provides an overview of some of the qualities of a webinar.

You can view the transcript for “Interactive Webinars” here (opens in new window).

In his book 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations, Wayne Turmel identifies four broad categories of virtual presentations:

  1. General Information Webinar: A session where the presenter shares information about a subject, service, or product. This is similar to an informative speech.
  2. Sales Demo: A session where the presenter is describing attributes of a product to an audience who are considering purchasing the product.
  3. Training: A session where a presenter is explaining how to successfully complete a task or process or how to use a product such as software.
  4. Team Meeting: A session where a presenter is facilitating a meeting among colleagues working together on a shared task.[1]

Turmel offers the following suggestions about how to successfully put on a webinar:

  1. Identify your objectives for the presentation. Your objectives will guide you in developing the content and structure of the webinar.
  2. Learn the software platform you will be using for the webinar.
  3. If you are working with others to develop the webinar create a project plan identifying who will do what and by when.
  4. Create an agenda and content outline (main points) for the webinar. Build in places during the webinar for Q&A with the audience.
  5. Create visuals such as slides that support the content.
  6. Rehearse the presentation, making sure you are comfortable with the software platform and being able to do things like switch from talking to the camera to presenting your slides.
  7. Present the webinar.[2]

Try It

Questions and Answers

A webinar slide that reads Questions from the Audience. Webinar participants are at the top of the screen.

It’s always a good idea to build in time for questions from the audience.

In most webinar software, you can collect questions from your audience using a chat tool.

Two common strategies for handling questions are to 1) have several short breaks between presenting content where you do Q&A (often using questions posted to the chat) or 2) wait until after you present all your information to answer questions.

Unless your webinar audience is fairly small, it’s usually better to handle questions using chat rather than having audiences ask their questions via audio because people’s microphones or audio settings aren’t always working and you don’t want to try and troubleshoot a technical issue during the webinar. In addition, some audience members may use question time to go off on a tangent unrelated to the topic of the webinar or use the Q&A time to dominate the session with a long, involved statement or question that all audience members may not be interested in listening to.

In his book 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations, Wayne Turmel suggests presenters do the following when answering audience questions:

  • When you answer a question from the audience, regardless of whether the question comes from a chat tool or audio, repeat the question so everyone can hear it. This helps your audience know what the question is and it also give you a chance to think before you answer the question.
  • Go slow when you answer questions to make sure you aren’t rushing and instead are taking time to answer the question correctly.
  • Try to finish your answer by tying the answer back to the primary goal or objective of the webinar so you reinforce how the answer relates to the reason they are attending the webinar in the first place.
  • Ask the person who asked the question whether your answer addressed what they were wanting to learn.[3]

Try It


  1. Turmel, Wayne. 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations. ASTD Press, 2011.
  2. Turmel, Wayne. 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations. ASTD Press, 2011.
  3. Turmel, Wayne. 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations. ASTD Press, 2011.