Should you script your webinar?

It depends. Using a script can be enormously helpful in keeping you on track—but it’s not easy both to read from a script and interact with your audience. Since webinars are such an interactive medium, reading directly from a script can make your performance less natural.

Ideally, even if you don’t use a formal script, you should be prepared with notes, slides, and other materials that will keep your talk on track—and know the material well enough so that you’re not simply reading text that your audience can also read for themselves.

And some webinars are more interactive than others. In some situations, you may not be in front of the camera yourself—and if you’re off camera, you have more freedom to use a script.

Here are some tips for writing a good one.

Plan your talk. Depending on your webinar’s framework, you can use note cards, PowerPoint, brainstorming software or other tools to determine the sequence of topics to cover.

Write naturally. Once you have your outline done, write your script naturally—the way you’d speak. Read the script aloud to spot points where it sounds unnatural. Read it to others and gauge how it lands.

Edit, then edit again. Every edit pass makes your script stronger—and if you’re delivering it to hundreds of people, you’ll need it to be as strong as possible. Keep it simple—remember the maxim never to use a ten-dollar word when a ten-cent word will do.

Keep organized. Developing an outline before you write helps, but be sure the ideas you present flow naturally into each other, build on each other, and make sense in the sequence you’ve chosen.

Break it up. Once you’ve created an overarching script, you’ll have the basis for creating slides, or inserting interactive moments such as quizzes or opportunities for audience members to ask questions. Break up your script to fit your webinar format.

Reword. Avoid writing the same text on your slides that you’ll be reading from in the script. Reword if necessary, or write more general overviews on your slides that allow you to go into more detail as you talk.

The key to writing a successful webinar script is reading it aloud at multiple points in the editing process—so you sound as natural as possible when you deliver. If you do it right, no one will realize you’re reading.

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