I’ve hosted hundreds of webinars (no surprise there). And mostly, they don’t suck!
Some have been more successful than others. But I like to think that by now, there’s consistency. A baseline of quality that comes from doing so many reps.
One key to that consistency? My webinar checklist.
Specifically, I have 13 items that I (literally) check off before I click ‘Enter Studio.’
By completing the checklist, I can start every webinar without being distracted by technical, production-related, or even emotional worries.
It’s a load off my mind, and the best way to go into a webinar with confidence.
In this post, I’ll share my checklist, and get into the details of what has to be in place before I can check each item off.
Plus, you can download your own PDF of my checklist here, and use it for yourself!
Item 1: Protect the Bandwidth
Before we test our Internet connection (that’s the next item), we need to make sure we’re not competing for Mbps.
Make sure there are no other Internet-enabled devices sucking up bandwidth, potentially hurting the quality of the presentation.
Other computers, phones, tablets, streaming content on the TV; it’s all gotta go before the party can start. Do a little sweep of your home/office, and remind anyone sharing the same connection that you’ve got an event.
Item 2: Solid Internet Connection
WebinarNinja broadcasts in full HD, all the way up to 1280 x 720 @ 30fps if your home/office Internet speed can support it (if your connection is slower, WebinarNinja adjusts so there’s no lag).
But I always test my connection just in case.
Let’s be honest — it would be pretty embarrassing for a webinar platform creator to host a fuzzy, glitchy, or laggy presentation. So I take no chances.
Also, pro tip: use a hard-wired connection whenever possible. It’s always better than wifi.
Item 3: Plug In!
Look, we’ve all done it. You’re running the lesson or presentation on your laptop, and suddenly you get a ‘low battery’ alert.
Or worse, your laptop powers down mid-webinar. That one’s never happened to me, but…that would be terrible.
Rather than scrambling for cords while your credibility with the audience takes a nosedive, do yourself a solid and make sure you’re all plugged in before you start.
Item 4: Check the Background
You don’t want any visual distractions for your audience. Make sure that whatever’s behind is neutral, clean, and free of surprises.
Minimize the chances of any unexpected action going on behind you. For example, don’t sit in front of a first-story window (you actually don’t want windows behind you for lighting reasons). Don’t have entrances to other rooms visible, if other people are in the building.
Stage the background with items that speak to your credentials — but not too loudly. Relevant books, items common to your niche, awards, etc.
For a full guide to prepping the ideal webinar background, see this post.
Item 5: Notifications Off!
You don’t need your phone pinging, dinging, and ringing during your presentation. It’s unprofessional, and distracting for you.
Same goes for any other devices that might be within hearing. Make sure everything other than the device you’re presenting on is off or in airplane mode.
Finally, make sure you’ve disabled any notifications that might go off on the device you’re using. Close unnecessary tabs and turn off any desktop notifications you might normally allow.
Life is distracting enough!
Item 6: Let There Be Light
Lighting is the unsung hero of professional-looking online presentations. I can’t stress this enough.
The best possible light is the natural kind. If you can position yourself facing a window (and the weather’s right), the good ol’ sun will do the trick.
But of course, that’s not always possible. Your office might not be set up that way, and the sun has a pesky habit of setting on a nightly basis.
To ensure the best look, I recommend a ring light. The UBeesize is a $35 USD option that’s sturdy, adjustable, and generally pretty perfect.
Most importantly, don’t backlight yourself. If there’s a window or other light source behind you, you’ll appear on camera as a silhouette.
Item 7: A/V Check
Make sure your webcam and mic are set up and connected properly.
And yes, I always recommend using a separate webcam and mic, not your computer’s built-in hardware. For my specific recommendations, see this post.
In the WebinarNinja Webinar Studio, you can test your camera feed and mic before you go live, just to make sure everything’s working. Don’t skip this part!
Item 8: Cam Positioning
Position the camera too low, and you’ll look like the world’s most awkward kaiju towering over the masses (plus, it’s not exactly flattering).
Position it too high, and you get a different, but equally unsettling effect.
Make sure the camera is just at eye level — it’s the best way to mimic in-person eye contact, which is important for audience engagement. It’s also how you’ll look your best.
And don’t forget to look into the camera directly, in the same way you’d look a person in the eye.
As for the distance, frame yourself so that your head and shoulders are visible, with just a bit of space above your head. Don’t fill the whole frame with just your face, unless you want to look like an evil dictator in a sci-fi movie.
Item 9: Headphones?
You may or may not need headphones, depending on the nature of your presentation. But if it’s the kind of presentation that requires them, don’t forget!
You’ll need to use headphones if your webinar involves:
- A co-host
- External video/audio clips
- Audience webcam sharing
In other words, if any sounds will be coming out of your computer’s speakers, you need headphones to prevent an irritating echo. Plan accordingly!
Item 10: Slideshow
Most good webinars involve a slide show. But messing around with the file while you’re live is very clumsy indeed.
Make sure to upload the slideshow directly into the platform (WebinarNinja allows this for Keynote and Powerpoint files), or have it ready in a designated tab for screen share.
You can choose 6 different configurations on WebinarNinja to display just the slides, or split the screen between the slides and your webcam feed. Check out all the options here.
For tips on putting together the best-ever slide presentation with Canva, check out this post.
Item 11: Elements in Place
A great webinar is a multimedia mix of your webcam feed, slides, video, and screen sharing. Make sure that all these elements are ready to rock.
We discussed the slideshow above; similarly, you can upload any video files directly into WebinarNinja in advance, or share a YouTube video.
As for the rest, just ensure that for any screen sharing you plan to do, the appropriate tabs, apps, or files are already open. You don’t want to be Googling or searching your desktop in real time!
Item 12: Polls, Handouts & Offers
The key to a truly effective webinar? Engagement.
The last thing you want is for your lesson or presentation to be a one-way lecture. Instead, make it a conversation.
Gauge your audience, and gather important feedback and market research with one simple tool: Polls. You want input from attendees. Ask their opinions, ask what their biggest pain points are, ask about their preferences and common challenges.
You can also give the audience something to take away from the webinar. WebinarNinja’s Handouts feature lets you share PDFs and other basic files, so you can give attendees infographics, checklists, and more.
And of course, you want your attendees to act. Whether it’s to buy something, sign up for a future presentation, or start a trial, your webinar should climax with an offer.
Make sure all your polls, handouts, and offers are in place and ready to unleash when the moment arrives!
Item 13: Attitude
Ok, I’m gonna go a little woo-woo here. But just a little.
Maybe you take a few controlled breaths. Maybe you do a 2-minute meditation. Maybe you just put a smile on your face and repeat an affirmation, prayer, or mantra.
But whatever you do, make it a concrete act, a ritual you perform right before the digital curtains go up.
This. Is. Important.
Your attitude, the whole vibe you bring into the virtual “room” when you first enter the webinar Studio, sets the tone. It has an immediate effect that ripples through the whole presentation.
Take a moment, perform your ritual, and bring the right energy. You’ll be glad you did.
That’s it! These are the 13 things I make absolutely sure of, every single time, before I begin a live lesson or presentation. Some of them may seem like no-brainers, but think of it like a rocket launch — better safe than sorry.
Below is the full checklist. Click to download it as a PDF, and head into your next webinar worry-free: