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How To Spot Bad Webinar Scripts

What can you do to help improve the quality of the presentation webinar script?


One of the best, most value-packed summaries of writing for the ears versus writing for the eyes is a short column that John Coleman wrote in 2014 for the Harvard Business Review. I urge you to follow the link and read “A Speech Is Not an Essay.” Mr. Coleman includes practical tips with supporting research citations. I’m not going to rehash his points here… His article is short enough to read on its own, and he explains things clearly and eloquently.

Here’s Mr. Coleman’s suggestions with a few specifics to watch out for in your webinar scripts.

1) Parentheses. If you have parentheses in your script, you aren’t writing for the ears. People cannot hear punctuation (Victor Borge aside). Rewrite the phrase using words to connect the subordinate concept to the primary concept in the sentence.

2) No mention of the audience. Most business webinar scripts ignore the audience. They are written in the abstract: “This is a fact. This is another fact.” — It doesn’t matter whether someone is listening or not. If you don’t see direct references to your listeners, with plenty of “you” and “your” pronouns, you have a bad script.

3) Long sentences. Make a point. Then make another point. Introduce a fact. Then say something about the fact. At the end of a sentence, the audience must remember how it started. If you review your script and find yourself going back to re-read the beginning of a sentence, that sentence needs rewriting.

4) Lots of numbers. You can present a slide with a chart, a table, or a list of statistics that support something you are communicating. Your script should not concentrate on what the numbers ARE. Your script needs to say something ABOUT the numbers. What they mean, why they are important, how they impact the listener. Nobody can remember a bunch of numbers recited in a narration. If the numbers are important as reference information for later, provide them in a reference document. Saying them in your speech is not just ineffective, it’s counterproductive.


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