Hosting a webinar is an easy and efficient way to transfer information, conduct training sessions, and encourage constant learning. Unfortunately, it can also be a fantastic way to put people to sleep.
Will your next webinar be an eye-opener or a snooze fest? It all depends on you.
Whether you’re new to the webinar game or a long-time presenter, it pays to keep a few key things in mind as you prepare.
In some ways, it’s harder
Just because your attendees aren’t in the room with you doesn’t mean you can relax and bring your B game. Quite the contrary, actually. Since you won’t have that face-to-face connection while presenting, you’ll have to work even harder to capture and keep your audience’s attention.
People registered for your webinar because they want to hear the great information you have to offer. But when the day arrives, they’ll be sitting in front of their screen with 57 new items that have creeped onto their to-do lists since signing up— and very little accountability.
If your presentation isn’t interesting or relevant, it won’t take long for them to find something else that is. And once you’ve lost your attendees, they aren’t coming back.
Practice is still required
It’s kind of nice that no one is asking you to show up in your business best and present in front of a room full of people. And while this significantly reduces the panic factor for many presenters, it doesn’t mean you can just log in and wing it. If you want to keep your attendees engaged for more than the first 5 minutes, you’ll need to put together a clear, concise presentation— and practice the heck out of it.
People can be pretty forgiving in person, and will often feel a sense of obligation to stick out a live presentation once they are in their seats. But online attendees are not nearly as polite. If they sense you haven’t fully prepared to effectively use the time they’ve marked out for you, they won’t think twice about switching over to email, popping you on mute, or logging out completely.
Show that you value their attendance (and their time!) by putting together a well-organized presentation and then committing to practice, practice, and more practice.
Voice is half the battle
Good verbal communication skills are critical to putting on a successful webinar. Because you can’t rely on your winning smile and personal presence, your tone and delivery become exponentially more important.
Record a run-through of your presentation and listen to yourself. Are you stumbling over your words or are you polished and well-rehearsed? Is your tone friendly and engaging or are you droning on in monotone? Are you an up-talker? Do you say… um… like… so… you know? Are you burning through the material too fast? Are there too many awkward pauses?
Visualize yourself as the webinar attendee. Are you being treated to a smooth, confident delivery or are you keeping a secret tally of how many times the presenter adds, “yeah?” at the end of a sentence? Space-filling speech tics may be less glaring in person, but they will become accentuated online.
Don’t be the presenter who makes everything sound like it’s in question. Speak with authority and confidence.
Slides are the other half
This is a biggie. When it comes to webinars, the slides are often the only thing your viewers have to look at. If they consist of nothing but bullet points, half of your audience will be asleep by the end of your presentation. And the other half will be long gone.
Lucky for you, webinar slides can benefit from a bit more flexibility than live presentation slides. It’s okay to have more pages and move them along faster. And because your attendees have nothing else to look at but the screen, you can also make some of them a little more text heavy. This doesn’t mean you should write your entire presentation out on your slides. If that’s your style, skip the webinar and send an eBook instead.
If you want people to stay awake and interested, find interesting ways to present your information. This is the time to get creative! Be colorful. Ask questions. Use lots of visuals. Humor is also a definite plus, so throw in some Dilbert every once in a while to keep people entertained.
If your slides are monotonous and boring, so is your webinar.
Connection is possible
Webinars are a little one-sided by nature, but they don’t have to be impersonal. Here are some ways to ramp up the feel-good factor:
· Use friendly, conversational language
· Insert some personal stories and humor
· Address your audience as if you are all together in the same room
· Design your session with built in interaction such as audience surveys, comments, and questions
· Provide your contact information and invite people to follow up with you personally after the session
And, if you want to make people really happy, wrap things up a little early and encourage your attendees to take a quick walk or grab coffee with the extra time they have scheduled out. Who doesn’t love the gift of a few extra minutes in the midst of a busy day?
You can do it!
We’ve all attended our share of good and bad webinars. Make sure you keep that ratio in the positive if you want to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more. If you’re feeling nervous about your next online presentation, just remember: great information + great delivery = a great webinar.
Now go insert some photos into those slides. You’ve got this!