This is hard for me to say, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but when it comes to webinars, you’re probably doing it wrong.
OK, I admit you’re not doing everything wrong. I mean, you’re producing webinars, which is great! You have interesting and engaging content that nobody else can present. You know that webinars can help you broadcast that content and reach hundreds upon hundreds of contacts you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Producing and conducting live webinars is not easy. Often, you’re alone in a room with nothing but a computer screen to talk to, without the audience connection that you would have during a live seminar. You’re probably not sure if the audience can hear you, much less engage with your content the way you want them to. These feelings of isolation and uncertainty may cause you to doubt that webinars are worth the effort, but trust me, the research shows they are. Webinars are a great tool for your organization, and like any other tool, knowing how to best use them is the first… and sometimes the toughest… part.
Here are some tried and tested Do’s and Don’ts.
Disclaimer: Some of these may sound silly and obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people forget or ignore them.
Always make sure your audience knows who is speaking. This creates a personal connection between you and the audience and immediately informs them that they’re listening to a live person.
The way you present and project yourself is just as important in a webinar as it is when you’re on stage in front of your audience. If you lack confidence in what you’re presenting, your audience won’t have any confidence to buy into what you’re selling. Know your content, be confident in it, and show that confidence to your audience; they will respond in kind.
Make sure you know who you are presenting to, and what their goals and interests are for attending. A helpful way to do this is poll your audience at the start, which can give you important insights and allow you to focus your content to their needs.
Nothing kills a webinar faster than a presenter saying these four ominous words, “Can you hear me?” Avoid this by setting up time with your webinar organizer (even if that’s you) and making sure your technology is working ahead of time. A few minutes of preparation could save you minutes of lost time at the start of a webinar and give you that professional edge.
Dress the part and you’ll be the part. This applies even if you’re only using audio. Ask any actor why they do dress rehearsals! Your physical preparedness will translate to mental preparedness. Dress in block colors to avoid attendee distraction. Let them focus on your voice and content.
Whilst you may be great at PowerPoint or Keynote for slide creation, you might still consider the use of a professional graphic designer to take up the quality to ‘professional grade’. If budget doesn’t allow, balance becomes your watchword. Not too many, not too few slides. Aim for balanced information density. Prepare your material for download and tell your audience in advance, so they don’t worry about note taking.
This again helps you accomplish tip #2 above. Know the content inside and out. Memorize what you can and use notes where you must to keep the presentation moving smoothly.
Slides are a visual aid to the story you want to tell your audience. Besides, your audience can read faster than you can speak. Keep the slides neat and concise, to guide you along your presentation instead of mirroring it.
While your dog or your baby may sound cute at other times, hearing them during a webinar will immediately turn off your audience. Eliminate external noise and distractions as much as possible.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re being looked down upon. Proper webcam placement is essential to literally and figuratively put yourself on even ground with your audience. Raise the webcam a bit and stop looking like Big Brother.
It may seem like a great idea to have natural light in your video, but make sure you’re doing it properly. Don’t put your back to an open window, which will result in a washed-out image. Add direct lighting so your audience can see your face clearly.
This again goes toward keeping things clean and simple while you’re on webcam. Distracting movements will detract from the impact of your webinars, so eliminate them as much as you can… and please, no food or drink unless you brought enough for everyone…
This is a major reason why your audience is attending your webinar. Your audience will be hungry to learn more, clarify and be heard. Skipping this important section could eliminate future business, so be sure to add that Q&A section.
If you have an important online event coming up, we’d be delighted to discuss how to maximize its effectiveness. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org