Moving Beyond the Webinar: Four Approaches to Take Your Web Presentation to the Next Level

How often do you find yourself participating in a webinar where the presenter drones on for an hour then finishes with no time for questions?  You start to wonder, why not just record the thing and let the audience decide when they want to watch?  Oh, that’s right, because if the recording is just a presenter droning on for an hour, nobody will ever want to watch.

Giving a presentation live over the web is overrated, especially if you are not offering live discussion.  You’re much better off creating and posting a short and to the point web video.  If it’s good enough, discussion will happen, just over time and in the comments section.

Highlighted in this post are four web friendly alternatives to the standard webinar, consider them the next time you plan to present online.

Fresh Spectrum Cartoon showing a stage with acrobatic performers taking the form of a bar graph

Web Ready Live Talks

Right now you could setup a camera and give it a presentation, but would it be compelling?  Unless you’re an actor or pundit, giving a presentation to a camera is tough. I think it’s one of the things that makes the TED approach so successful.

Presenting to an audience changes the whole feel by allowing the presenter to connect with actual human beings.  If the ultimate goal is a web-ready presentation, keep the format short ( <20 minutes and often <5).  Also make sure you capture quality video and audio.  For tips on how to do this, check out the Vimeo Video School.

I’ve chosen Clay Shirky’s SOPA/PIPA presentation to make a point.  You don’t need a TED sized audience to make use of this approach.



What would you rather see while listening to a presentation; a giant talking head, slide after slide of bullet points, or an animation?  As a self proclaimed doodle revolutionary, my choice is obvious.

Like video taping yourself, recording an audio monologue is also tough.  RSA Animate videos utilize lecture audio with a doodled video.  If you want to take this approach I suggest starting with a recorded conversation or lecture.  People appreciate authenticity and you don’t get the same passion out of professional voice actors.

There are lots of animation programs out there, including several iPad apps.  You don’t need to take on Pixar, just add a little value to the voice.


Documentary Style

If you decide to go video you don’t have to settle for just a simple recording.  Splice in a little music, add in a few video clips, and then overlay some text and your video will start to take documentary form.  Check out creative commons for some remixable materials.   Again, I’m going to plug the Vimeo Video School; it’s full of solid advice on lighting, setting up your shots, and choosing the right equipment.

The following example by one of my heroes comes from Ericsson’s 2020 Shaping Ideas campain.


Motion Graphics

You can think of a motion graphic as a video infographic.  By using software like Adobe After Affects, you can give your visualizations new life.  While all of the approaches on this page take a certain level of expertise to get it right, this approach is likely furthest outside the comfort zone of most researchers and evaluators.  But it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility if you have the will or the budget.

The following was developed by Column Five Media.  If you like it, I suggest checking out their site for more examples.




  1. cplysy on April 4, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Just curious, did anyone have trouble deciphering the cartoon I used above? It made sense to me but I created it! 

  2. susanjkistler on April 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Chris, do you know of any evaluators doing homegrown/low-cost yet great instructional video production? Would love to get together (in person or virtually) to share ideas!

    • cplysy on April 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      No, but I would like to find some as well 🙂  What do you think about an #eval video competition?  It’s definitely one way to pull the homegrown video producers out of hiding.
      After I finish tweaking Fresh Spectrum I plan to put a bit of effort towards upgrading Eval Central.  A video competition would be a nice thing to go along with a relaunch.  

  3. cplysy on April 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    By the way, if you’re trying to find a Facebook sharing icon it was not left out.  There are some API issues keeping the sharing plugin from working.  You will find it alongside the Twitter button when things get back to working order.