Automating Your Webinar Introduction


Photo Credit: H is for Home via Compfight cc

I was attending a webinar facilitated by the talented Geri Lopker, during which she impressed some of the attendees with break slides that included a timer. This wasn’t a separate program, but a series of slides that transitioned automatically as break time elapsed.

This was a nifty tool. I have never been successful in transitioning my slides automatically within WebEx, even after using PowerPoint’s “rehearse timings” feature, even after importing said slides into WebEx’s .ucf format.* As a result, my break slides tended to be a kludge of deftly timed animations.

I concluded that a gap exists between PowerPoint’s abilities and WebEx’s. But it could be overcome. How?

A little bit of research turned up this feature hidden under WebEx’s “View” menu: “Automatically Advance Pages.” Here’s how:

  1. Import the file into WebEx.**
  2. From the menu bar, select “View.”
  3. Then select “Automatically advance pages.”
  4. You’ll be able to change how frequently the pages advance, along with if you want the slides to repeat. If you’re doing a break timer, I’d suggest not repeating your slides.
  5. Click “Start” to automatically advance your slides.

How else could we use this feature? Having numbers change on a screen is one thing, but to quote Ted Arroway, “…seems like an awful waste of space.”

What if we used it to train our attendees? Not on course objectives, but on the web tool itself?

How much time do we spend in our webinars introducing people to the tools we use? Probably not a lot, but it cuts into the webinar time. If you’ve got an hour-long session, that introductory 5 minutes took up more than 10% of your class.

An alternative solution that we’ve implemented, with limited success, is to deliver an “Introduction to WebEx” in advance.  But what if we were to provide this “how to” information as a pre-show, for attendees to view as they log in to the webinar? That might work.

Here’s a slide deck that I created to try that technique. It’s both a timer to let people know how soon class will begin, and a quick introduction to WebEx participant tools – 60 seconds for each tool. The slides are designed to be advanced every 30 seconds; the first slide introduces the tool while the second slide encourages participants to try out the tools in a “safe zone,” before the real business of the webinar takes place.

If you use it, let me know how it works for you!

*yes, I know that you can share your PowerPoint application in WebEx, and I know that if you run that show, your transitions will work. I find that this reduces audience participation, because the chat box and participant windows “disappear.”
** it’s up to you how you import the file. I’ve started converting my slide decks into the .ucf format to help transition much of the fancy stuff I do in PowerPoint.

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