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Event Marketing

How long should my webinar be?

Jerry Shen
min read
Event Marketing

How long should my webinar be?

Jerry Shen
min read

Determining the length of a webinar can be tricky. You want to share enough content with your audience to stay engaged without overwhelming them with too much information. An ideal webinar length will depend on several factors, including the type of webinar, your audience, the webinar topic, and the webinar format. A well-timed online event will ensure all participants remain engaged from beginning to end.

Short vs. Long Webinars

In short, a shorter webinar tends to be more concise and to the point. These are easier to fit into people’s schedules and thus lead to better audience engagement.

Long webinars can be more intimidating. Many people avoid them because they fear boring their audience and wasting their time. Though those are valid concerns, long webinars do have their time and place. A longer webinar indicates to the audience that you are going more in-depth into a topic, providing valuable insights and offering actionable takeaways. More time also allows you to create a more immersive experience.

Types of Webinars:

First, you must define the type of webinar you are holding. There are several webinars, each of which calls for a different amount of time to fulfill its objective. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  1. Education webinars - As the name states, the goal here is to educate. This follows a presentation or lecture style and can include interactive elements such as Q&A and small group discussions. Length can vary, but if the topic is complex, they can run for up to 2 hours.
  2. Employee training - The purpose is to train employees in specific professional development skills and can include a lecture component, interactive exercises, and case studies. Length is generally shorter to accommodate the employees’ busy schedules.
  3. Corporate communications - The business aims to build trust and develop company alignment with its employees by communicating important information and company updates. This typically includes a presentation by a senior executive followed by a Q&A session. Length can be anywhere from 30 min to an hour.
  4. Product demonstrations - Meant to showcase the features and benefits of a particular product. The goal is to educate potential customers and promote lead generation. These webinars typically start with a live demonstration by a product expert, followed by a Q&A at the end. The length depends on the complexity of the product but generally runs no longer than an hour.
  5. Customer onboarding - The goal here is to ensure new customers have a smooth and successful experience with your product. This type of webinar will include a presentation with videos or slides that provides an overview of the product and can provide a variety of interactive elements such as live demos, Q&A, and polls. Length will depend on the complexity of the product.
  6. Customer retention - This type of webinar provides customers with updates on new product features, best practices, and tips and tricks to keep customers engaged and loyal over time. The format may include a presentation, live demonstrations, slides/videos, and Q&A sessions. Length should be short and sweet so you don’t bore your customers.
  7. Lead generation - We want to attract new information into the sales funnel by generating interest and building trust. You should have a landing page to capture the names/emails/phone numbers of potential clients that register for your event. These live events tend to have a presentation component and incorporate interactive elements such as live demonstrations and Q&A. These webinars usually remain under an hour.
  8. Panelist discussion - These webinars feature experts who share their knowledge on a particular subject, providing the audience an in-depth understanding of a topic. You want to encourage lively discussions and engagement, encouraging audience participation. If several panelists are involved, these webinars may run a bit longer (up to 2 hours).

Topic and level of complexity

Another factor to consider is the complexity of your webinar content. You must allow enough time to ensure all content is shared and discussed adequately. For example, hosting a webinar on a complex topic, such as technology or finance, will call for a long webinar. On the other hand, running a webinar on a more general topic, like how to use an app or software, may require less time. An available benchmark is to plan for about three minutes for each slide or topic and add a few extra minutes for questions and audience interaction.

After determining the type of webinar and the complexity of the topic, you will be able to create a webinar planning template outlining the format of your presentation and tailoring it to the specific goals to create a successful webinar.

Know your audience

Who is your presentation for?

Are they students? Working professionals? Or are they high-level executives? If you are presenting to students, keep in mind they may have a shorter attention span and would benefit from more breaks and more interactive elements. However, students tend to have more time and are generally open to longer webinars. If your webinar attendees are working professionals and executives, know that they may be a lot busier and have a lot less time to sit through a long webinar. For them, your presentation may need to be more concise and to the point.

What about the time of day? Is everyone in the same time zone, or is your audience worldwide? The more varied your audience, the harder this is to plan, but generally, you should aim to schedule your webinar midday or in the evenings when people are less busy. Try to avoid 12-1 pm when people are having lunch. Popular times are 10 am or 3 pm PST. Remember that webinars scheduled in the middle of a workday should be kept shorter so that attendees can easily fit them into their schedules. On the other hand, webinars planned for later in the evening or on weekends may be longer. Generally, the best days for a webinar are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

In-person vs. Virtual events

There are pros and cons between attending a virtual event versus an in-person event. When attending a live event in person, you benefit from face-to-face interactions, networking, and creating memorable experiences with your fellow attendees. The downside is that attendance is limited to those who can take the time out of their day and get to your event's location. Attending an in-person event takes a more significant commitment out of a person’s day, but once they are there, it is usually easier to keep the audience engaged.

On the other hand, you can join a live webinar from anywhere, including your home. Convenient as that may be, this also comes with a number of potential distractions. This includes children, pets, easy access to social media, and myriad distractions the internet wormhole can lead you down.

Best practices for maximizing audience engagement:

Keeping your audience’s attention in a virtual event is tough. A distracting environment makes it even more challenging. When planning your webinar, you must remember that no matter how interested they are, your audience’s attention span is only about 20 min. From there, their focus will inevitably begin to fade.

This is not to say that you should cap your webinar at 20 min. It just means you should host your event on a webinar platform with a wide variety of interactive features that offers you the most significant advantages in compensating for the lack of face-to-face interactions. Here are some tips to help keep your audience’s attention and combat the distractions of joining your webinar from home.

  • Plan plan plan! Draft a webinar template so you stay on topic and do not deviate off course. If you stretch it out too much, your audience may get bored, leading to a high drop-off.
  • Make it fun. The webinar host can incorporate videos or audio clips to entertain the audience and keep things interesting. These additional elements will continue to engage and entertain viewers even when viewing on demand.
  • Encourage breaks. You can split your presentation into segments or multiple webinars if you have a lot of information to cover.
  • Chat rooms are an excellent way to break the virtual wall between the attendees and presenters.
  • Make it a discussion. A one-sided conversation can often feel like talking to a brick wall. Utilize break-out rooms to divide the audience into smaller groups. This will encourage more attendees to participate and high-quality discussions.
  • Polls and CTAs - By incorporating polls and sharing their results in real-time, you are providing a break from the traditional lecture style and giving attendees an active role in the webinar. Furthermore, polls can gauge the audience’s engagement and be a starting point for discussion. A Call to Action (CTA) is a great way to unexpectedly engage attendees and give them access to resources or other relevant links.
  • Q&A session - don’t forget to allow adequate time to answer questions at the end of your presentation. An engaged audience can have many questions, and this session can last longer than you think!
  • Lounge rooms - After your planned webinar window has ended and people who need to leave have left, lounges are a great way for the remaining attendees to socialize and network with one another.


In closing, you need to consider many factors when determining how long to make your webinar.

With a strong webinar presentation and consistent follow-up, you are sure to turn potential customers into paying customers. A successful webinar can encourage lead-generation opportunities and increase conversion rates in your sales funnel. Undoubtedly, webinars should play a key role in your business’s marketing strategy. With this in mind, check out this article about how to plan and strategize for your next webinar.

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