How to make your virtual presentation a memorable learning event
Tips on webinar design and delivery
Webinars are becoming increasingly popular within UNDP: the format enables colleagues around the
globe to learn together while reducing emissions. This document will help you delivering content that
keeps your virtual audience engaged.
Who should read these guidelines?
Colleagues who are setting up webinars: in this document they are referred to as facilitators.
Colleagues who share content online - subject matter specialists: in this document they are
referred to as presenters.
What are webinars?
Webinars are learning events that pursue specific learning objectives: pre-prepared content is
shared by one or more presenter using online technologies. A key feature of a webinar is its
interactivity -- the ability to engage the audience in discussions and other interactions.
Webcasts are live-streams of events. Webcasts pursue mainly information-sharing purposes and
are usually one-way communication modules. Most webcasts do not feature options for
Web conferences serve similar purposes to face to face meetings but allow participants to
“meet” virtually from different locations with the assistance of technology.
What’s in this document?
Chapter 1: How to set up and facilitate a webinar.
This chapter is for facilitators; however presenters also benefit from knowing what is happening behind
Advise on learning objectives and approach
Choose a platform
Schedule the webinar
Test the software
Manage invitations & promote the event
During the webinar
Open the webinar
Work behind the scenes
Lead the Q&A session
After the event
Ensure follow-up actions
Chapter 2: How to make your online presentation a memorable event
This chapter is for presenters and facilitators.
Identifying your audience
Preparing key messages
Engaging the audience
Visualizing key messages
Telling compelling stories
Learning by doing
Chapter 1: How to set up and facilitate a webinar
This chapter is for facilitators: colleagues who are in charge of setting up and facilitating a webinar.
The roles of the facilitator
Webinars need a facilitator; don’t plan one without a dedicated person performing this role: the
presenter(s) should solely focus on the substantive parts while the facilitator is in charge of the
a) Advise on learning objectives and approach
This is arguably the most important part: please make sure to invest time in working with the
presenter(s) on preparing an impactful learning event. This demands sensitivity in advising colleagues to
deviate from the standard PowerPoint presentations and ideally some basic knowledge of adult
learning. Otherwise, the tips in this document should suffice as a starter. If you would like to know
more about adult learning principles; please join the Learning in UNDP space on Teamworks and ask for
further resources and advice in the discussion forum.
Two common issues colleagues encounter when presenting online are related to:
2. Audience feedback
Technology: it is the facilitator’s role to get fully comfortable with the technology being used to run the
webinar and to train the presenter on the tasks she/he needs to perform. Where available, you might
additionally organize to have local IT support on hand to deal with other technology issues such as
connectivity to network etc.
Audience feedback: You need to design the session allowing for audience interaction both in terms of
planning the flow and timing. Below you will find tips how to keep the audience engaged. Unlike a face-
to-face presentation, the presenter cannot easily interact with the audience. The facilitator should act as
a bridge and constantly prompt and create windows for inputs from the audience.
In chapter 2 you will find more detailed tips on learning objectives and approach. The main tasks for the
Ask the presenter(s) who the target audience is and what the specific learning objectives are.
Please note: in most cases, the presenter knows the content but not exactly what effects the
presentation should have on the participants; what’s the intended outcome – the change in
knowledge, skills or attitudes. You can consider showing the presenter the TED Talk “How great
leaders inspire action”. In the timeframe 1min20s –4min 25s Simon Sinek presents this model.
You can use this to support the presenter in coming up with a really good presentation: the ‘Why’
circle refers to the learning objectives of the webinar: why do it all? What is supposed to change?
What’s the intended outcome? First, address this; then ‘How’ you can get your message across to
achieve the objectives? How can you engage your audience? Lastly, ‘What’ are you going to
present? Most presenters know the ‘What’ but are not clear about ‘Why’ and ‘How’.
Discuss how to engage the audience with the presenter. Try to integrate interactive elements
and choose the webinar platform according to your business needs. For example: do you need a
a poll function?
This includes deciding with the presenter(s) if you want to enable participants to ask questions
during or only after the presentation. Ideally, the participants are asked for their inputs
throughout the webinar.
Ask the presenter(s) to share the slide-deck well in advance and advice on the use of visuals and
stories (see more on this in chapter 2).
Ask the presenter(s) to write up 3-4 main messages aligned to the learning objectives. These
should be highlighted in the invitation text.
Once the three questions are addressed, decide with the presenter(s) if you want to enable participants
to ask questions using their microphones or only through the chat function.
On the first option regarding microphones:
This option contains a risk since some participants might be hard to understand due to
bandwidth issues or the set-up of their microphone. If you have a large number of
participants (more than 50), consider carefully if you want to go this route as technical
difficulties might ruin a positive learning experience.
If you choose to have participants talk, you need to explain in the beginning that everyone
who has a substantive question should indicate this. Most webinar platforms have a “Raise
Hands” button. This indicates that you as the facilitator will unmute their microphone and
invite them to ask a question in the dedicated Q&A session. (Make sure to underline that
technical difficulties should be addressed only via the chat function.)
On the second option – keeping everyone muted:
This option is less interactive and engaging but also less risky. If you decide to receive
questions only in writing, ask the participants to send questions and comments through the
chat box. Depending on the webinar tool you use the presenter(s) and other participants
might not be able to see them. Hence you as the facilitator may need to read the questions
and comments to the presenter(s). In any case, there may be more questions entered in the
chat than can easily be answered, so an important role of the facilitator is to monitor the
chat and summarize or select questions to be addressed by the presenter and repeat them
back to the presenter and participants.
b) Choose a platform
The learning objectives and planned interactive elements should be the drivers of your decision
for a platform. First define the business needs with the presenter(s); then choose a system. You
can find a short overview of different options here.
c) Schedule the webinar
Schedule a webinar and at least one test run with the presenter(s) on the platform of your
Remember the time differences when choosing a date and time. To reach the widest audience
you may have to consider repeating the same session multiple times to reach all regions.
Ask the presenter(s) to provide you with a short promotional text and work together to find a
catchy title for the webinar. This should cover what the participants will learn and information
about the presenter(s). Insert the text in the invitation form.
To enable you to generate a report on the participation from different duty stations after the
event you can set predetermined fields (e.g. “Name”, “Job Title” and “Country”) as mandatory
fields for the registration form..
Ideally, give a minimum of 10 days of notice to participants.
Include technical requirements needed to join the session in your invitation email: computer
with speakers and ideally a microphone.
Check if the system you use requires the installation of a plug-in. If yes, remind participants in
the invitation email that they need to have admin rights for their PC’s to install a plug-in. In
some duty stations, this requires the support of the IT focal points.
Don’t schedule webinar sessions for more than 1.5 hours.
d) Test the software
It is crucial to test the webinar with the presenter(s) prior to the actual event. Schedule a test run at
least 4 days before the actual webinar takes place and make sure the presenters feel comfortable with
Test the audio functions, the different tools you want to use including the recording function
and give the presenter the rights to show her/his screen.
Close applications such as Skype, Microsoft Outlook and Lync during the webinar and ask the
presenter to do the same. (Notifications of incoming messages on the PC of the person
presenting will be visible to everyone.)
Note that connecting with an Ipad or smartphone might be possible and enjoyable for
participants. As a facilitator or presenter, it is highly advisable to run the webinar from a regular
PC or Mac connected to the internet via cable (connection via wireless connection may not be
sufficiently robust and reliable for the facilitator/presenter roles)
e) Manage invitations & promote the event
Most systems generate a link for a registration webpage. Once participants have registered there, they
receive a customized link to log-on. You can choose which elements you want the participants to put
down in the form.
Track how many people registered and inform the presenter one day before the webinar.
Usually, the participation rate is about 2/3 of all registered colleagues.
Most systems send out an automated reminder message one week in advance and another one
1 day in advance. Make sure you change these settings if necessary and be sure to have at least
one reminder sent one day before the event.
UNDP’s Learning Management System (LMS) offers the opportunity to track the participation of UNDP
colleagues and to automatically generate a certificate for all staff members who attended the webinar.
To get the attention of your audience:
Come up with a title that creates tension. (An example would be: UNDP and social media: are
we a leader or a lagger?). Don’t underestimate the importance of good titles.
Make it clear what’s in it for the audience in the promotional text. Why should colleagues spend
time in your event? What’s in it for them?
In order to best promote your event identify who is your target audience, and promote your event using
the channel that is most appropriate to reach them. Examples of potential channels to use to promote
an event might be:
1. Global e-mail broadcasts sent to all staff, or o thematic/office e-mail lists.
2. Announcements in thematic newsletters related to the subject matter of your event
3. Posting an announcement in relevant communities of practice, Teamwoks spaces, or other
4. Sending personal invitations to people who you think might greatly benefit from participating in
the event, or whom you feel might have interesting perspectives to contribute. Note:
personalized invitations are likely to be much more effective than mass mailings, especially
when sent to people you know, but it’s not practical to send them to everyone.
5. Participants in past webinars (you can make use of the registration system to collect e-mail
addresses of people for future use).
6. If the webinar is also open to external participants you might also promote it through external
social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, or through external online communities and
During the webinar
f) Open the webinar – some talking points
Before opening the webinar, meet the presenter(s) at least 15min prior to the start online. Most
systems allow you to talk to the presenter(s) while the participants are on hold in the virtual waiting
room. Make sure to start broadcasting on time. Monitor the chat box to see if there are any questions
from the start. Here is an overview of the steps to start a webinar:
If you want your audience to actively participate, ask everyone at the beginning to introduce
herself/himself with a few words in the chat box. When colleagues have used it once, they are more
likely to use it again throughout the webinar. Depending on the format (size of group might be a factor),
decide in advance if you will announce people who may join during the course of the webinar.
Here are some sample talking points for the webinar ground rules:
“If you have problems hearing the presenter(s) or seeing the content, please leave a comment in
the chat box to your right. I will respond via the chat function and try to help you solve the
“The way we plan to conduct the webinar is that all participants’ microphones will be muted
during the webinar. Whilst in theory it would be great to have a segment where the
microphones are open for discussion, we have found in previous webinars that we ran into too
many technical issues that disrupted the learning. In conclusion we believe it will be a better
learning experience for everyone if we engage you through the chat. Please send questions and
comments during the webinar through the chat function. I will collect them and then read them
to the presenter.”
Alternatively - if you have decided to enable the microphones of the participants:
•Tip: ask the
• Hit Record
(what's in for
•Tip: show a
picture of the
in a few
of chat box
Hand over to
this in the
your mic after
“You will have the opportunity to ask questions and comment on the presentation later on. If
you have a microphone installed, we invite you to ask a question directly. Please click the “Raise
Hand” symbol if you have a substantive question and we will unmute your microphone. If you
have technical difficulties, please do not use the “Raise Hand” function but send us a comment
in the chat box.
g) Work behind the scenes
Monitor the chat or question box during the webinar and address the incoming questions on
Collect substantive questions and cluster them, if possible.
Keep track of time during the event. Remind the presenter(s) about the time 10min before the
agreed end of the presentation.
Launch polls and support the presenter(s) in any other way you agreed upon beforehand.
Unmute yourself to present comments and questions from the participants.
a) Present questions and comments
How the Q&A sessions run depends on your choice – allowing participants to use their
microphones or only allowing questions in writing.
If you unmute the microphone of participants, you have to listen carefully and decide if the
audio connection is clear. Should it be hardly possible to understand the person, you will have to
interrupt, apologize for the inconvenience and ask the colleague to put the question in writing.
Don’t lose time trying to resolve technical issues at this point.
If you read out the questions; have the presenter respond to each question directly. Don’t read
out several at a time as this gets too confusing for a virtual audience.
Once all questions are answered or the time is up, it is your job to wrap up: thank the
presenter(s) and the participants and refer to any follow-up actions you agree upon with the
After the event
h) Ensure follow-up actions
Agree with the presenter(s) on follow-up actions prior to the event. You can consider to:
Continue the Q&A session or a general conversation about a topic on Teamworks or other
relevant online space. Identify the appropriate space and ask the presenter to open a discussion
forum there. Send out the link soon after the webinar and invite participants to continue the
conversation on the Teamworks space. (In most cases, it is not advisable to open a dedicated
Teamworks space just for the follow-up discussion; rather find an existing space that focusses on
the subject of the webinar.)
Develop a short survey to assess the satisfaction of the participants. (Most systems allow you to
generate a survey and send it out through the platform.)
Send a follow up e-mail to all participants with a link to the recording and all presentations,
related links etc.
Carry out an “After Action Review” on the webinar to learn lessons for future webinars. This can
be both in terms of the logistics and organization of the webinar as well as on the substantive
content, and the audiences’ reactions to it. (See annexed template for an After Action Review.)
Chapter 2: How to make your online presentation a memorable event
This chapter is for colleagues who present content online – presenters - and for webinar facilitators who
provide support to those presenting online.
A private sector study revealed that professionals spent more time preparing presentations for face-to-
face events than for webinars. No data exists on this for UNDP, but in the past years webinars have
attracted up to several hundred participants. And all of them are just a mouse-click away to potentially
more interesting content online. Please make sure you invest adequate time in your online learning
Identifying answers to the following questions will help you in making the webinar successful:
Please identify short answers to these questions, starting with: what’s the intended outcome – what
change in knowledge, skills or attitudes should the webinar trigger?
Develop specific learning objectives for your webinar and focus on the content and the delivery method
to reach these objectives. Learning objectives describe what learners should know or be able to do at
the end of a webinar or face-to-face course that they couldn’t do before. Examples of learning
“Participants are able to explain UNDP’s definition of human development.” or
“Participants are able to compare different definitions of ‘pro-poor growth’ and can
describe UNDP’s approach to pro-poor growth.”
This MIT website provides a good succinct introduction to learning objectives.
objective am I
What new knowledge
and skills does my
audience need to
achieve this objective?
What exactly should my
audience learn? What
What are the 3-4 main
messages I want to
convey to pass on this
What is the best way for
my audience to learn the
needed skills and
How can I found out if
the webinar had a
The tips below focus on delivery methods; on the question: What is the best way for my audience to
learn the needed skills and knowledge? Please get in touch with the Learning Resources Centre (LRC) by
posting a question in LRC’s Teamworks space if you would like to know more about evaluation methods
of learning events or any other questions related to instructional design.
When you have noted down brief answers to the questions above, go through the following tips to find
more advice on creating a memorable webinar.
Who is your audience? What do they want to know?
Who is the learner? What do you know about their knowledge and skills regarding your subject?
What is the goal of your webinar? What should the learners know; what tasks or behaviors
should they be able to perform?
Identify the real-business problems of your audience and the actions they are most likely to take to
address them. Formulate your 3-4 main messages along these problems.
Find a balance between what your audience wants to know and what you have to say. Make sure to
address the demand of the participants.
When you have identified your target audience: find out where they convene online. Promote your
event in the right networks and through different means: email, announcements on Teamworks and the
Intranet; social media if applicable. Ask colleagues working in communications and Knowledge
Management for support in promoting the event.
The participants will only remember 3-4 messages, which ones should they be?
A lot of presentations and webinars suffer from a lack of information over-load and deviation from the
main message. Don’t cover too much and cut the content that doesn’t support your main messages.
Think of the learning objectives and which content is directly related to them.
How can I engage my audience?
Most adults don’t learn much from a PowerPoint presentation. Webinars are great because they make it
possible to engage the audience. Unfortunately, many presenters do not make use of this opportunity. If
you want your audience to actually learn something: deviate from the standard ‘40-minute presentation
– 20-minute Q&A’ format.
Design for interaction! Develop your presentation and integrate interaction elements every 5-8
Think of 2-3 multiple choice questions that underline your main message. Develop polls and ask
the facilitator to launch them during the webinar.
Identify an exercise the participants can accomplish during the webinar. Asking them to actually
do something and quickly report back through the chat function.
Ask your participants open-ended questions throughout the webinar, for example a definition of
a concept or about their experiences on a given topic. Agree with the facilitator on the
collaboration mode: it is advisable that the facilitator reads questions and comments and the
presenter(s) react to them
You can also ask your audience to submit their thoughts and questions on substantive issues in
writing with a “Whiteboard”. If the webinar system of your choice does not feature a
‘Whiteboard”, this free-of-cost tool enables all participants to post their thoughts on a virtual
In webinars you will not receive facial clues from your audience. To manage this lack of feedback during
a presentation, make sure to integrate interactive elements and ask the facilitator to be the bridge
between you and the virtual audience by reading their comments and questions or unmuting their
What else can I do to engage my audience?
What resources and exercises would you like your audience to read and complete before the
event? The more the learners prepare, the more you can include interactive elements and
If you plan to have multiple webinars, consider to ask your audience to work on assignments
between the events. Align these assignments directly to the content of your webinar – the
message is likely to stick if colleagues can apply the learning directly in their work.
How can I underline my key points with visuals?
Many webinars systems don’t support a video-image of the presenter. In the absence of body language,
it is crucial to have good visuals that support your main messages. A well-chosen image can illustrate a
Search images that underline your main points and that engage your audience. (If you plan to
share your slide-deck with the public, consider copyright issues and ensure to only use images
under the Creative Commons license. To locate pictures under the Creative Commons License,
you can use search engines such as Photopin or Compfight.)
Instead of writing a line or bullet points, consider to have an image on the whole slide and just
the headline of the main point written over the image. You can find an example for this here.
The example above is also a good one for a common mistake: don’t produce an online slide
show that shifts the attention of the audience from the messages to the images. Instead of
presenting one great image after another, try to engage your audience with questions.
In addition to images, you can also use charts and diagrams to underline a message. Make sure
they are not too complex and you fully explain them during the webinar. If you need to show
comparative figures in charts, use bar charts instead of pie charts (see this article, and another
by data visualization pioneer Edward Tufte)
Remember: the slide-deck should support your presentation; it shouldn’t be your presentation.
Limit the number of bullet points to max 4 per slide; do not use any font size smaller than 24
and don’t read out the sentences on the slides or your whole presentation.
Tools to zoom in on the screen can be useful to emphasize details. A free tool such as ZoomIt
gives you this feature as well as drawing/annotation tools. Remember to practice before hand
so that the tool is effective and not distracting.
How can I come up with a story to underline my main message?
Most adults understand and remember content better when the theoretical explanation is combined
with a real-life story.
Think about a story, ideally one you experienced yourself and that underlines one of your main
When you have identified the story, make sure you are able to explain the context and clearly
point out a turning point to create sufficient suspense. It should have an element of surprise
connected to an action of one of the protagonists. You can find a brief guideline on storytelling
Identify 2-3 visuals that support your story.
What else can I do to make the message stick?
Adults, just as most children, learn best when they can actually link theoretical knowledge to practical
exercise – we learn by doing.
Think of exercises for your audience: short tasks can they can during the webinar and post-webinar
Knowledge sharing and informal learning
You can ask your audience to:
Some tips on keeping the energy up
To keep your audience engaged, identify a second presenter and switch from one presenter to
the other every 10 minutes. Try out presenting your content in the form of a conversation.
Feedback on such formats has been very positive.
Asking questions or briefly polling the audience will also keep the audience engaged, especially
when audience can relate or identify to the question or the context surrounding the “question”.
Participants tend to start navigating the internet after 10 minutes into the webinar. To keep
them coming back to your screen, use the engagement tactics mentioned above. In addition,
you can also prepare a slide with a couple of phrases and simply say: “Please read the following
lines carefully before we go on.” Most participants will then go back to your presentation.
Change your voice tonality during the webinar. Since your audience cannot see your body
expressions, the voice tonality becomes much more important. Make use of rhetorical questions
and change your voice tonality when asking such questions.
Use gestures. The drain of energy is serious problem in webinars. Keep active – your audience
will notice this.
Identify colleagues who
are interested in
Reflect on key insights
Idenitfy right knowledge
sharing vehicle, e.g. blog
post, informal learning
Ask colleagues to share
their reflections in
Your audience doesn’t see you but they can tell if you are motivated and engaged. If you are
having a good time presenting, so will your audience. They will even notice when you smile.
Webinar After‐Action Report
This template is intended to be used to briefly report main outcomes, points, follow‐up actions, etc. from webinars
and virtual meetings. It should not be more than 1‐2 pages and should be done shortly after the meeting while
recollections of events are still fresh. Make sure to replace all instructional text and remove objects you are not
Names & contact details of presenters and facilitators:
Participants: List participants here or add as an annex
Goals and Objectives:
List learning goals and objectives of the session.
Provide brief synopsis of what happened during the session.
Outcomes and Action Points:
List action points stemming from the session.
Conclusions and Lessons Learned:
Conclusions and lessons learned. Lessons learned can include any technical or logistical issues that
could help improve future sessions as well as substantive lessons.