Prepare, Practice, Deliver: 3 Tips for a Better Webinar
Presenting a webinar is considered easier than standing on a stage to deliver a talk, but in truth they’re both hard. Standing on a stage might subject you to glaring lights and stage fright, but at least you can make a connection with the people who came. The novice speaker is always advised to pick one person out in the audience and speak just to them.
Delivering a webinar is different. The audience can’t see you, so you can’t use your body language to convey anything at all. And you can’t see them either. You’d think that might make presenting easier, but in some ways it’s harder. No visual cues as to how well your audience is receiving your message. No heads nods, no smiles…..just silence. It can be intimidating. The one thing you can count on for coming across crystal clear is your enthusiastic voice. Projection and excitement helps keep your “silent” audience engaged.
But it’s not easy to sound confident, informed, friendly, and intriguing all at the same time. Here are a few tricks to help you pull it off:
Know the story you want to tell forward and backward. Outline it.
Figure out the images you can use to tell the story.
Title the slides so that they work as headlines, helping take attendees through the story
Make notes about what you want to tell about each slide, and make sure you have some kind of transition between each slide, even if it’s just “Now we’re going to switch gears and talk about…”
Do not skimp on practice. The world’s best and brightest speakers didn’t get to be that way by accident, and rehearsing your webinar is the best way to polish your presentation.
Practice delivering the key points of your presentation until you have purged every stammer, “uhh,” and “err” from your vocabulary. Even the most skilled expert sounds amateurish when meandering around the message with no focus or drive. Instead of stammers, try silence.
Speaking of silence: Don’t be afraid of a little dead air. Used sparingly, It’s particularly powerful when you’re trying to make a point and you want the message to sink in. Silence can help you do that.
Being authoritative and focused does not mean becoming robotic or scripted. Practice with a listening partner and direct everything you say to them. If possible, do the same during your live presentation. This will help you sound more natural, and help the audience feel that the message is directed personally at them.
Time yourself during your practice sessions. Don’t fall into the trap of coming up on the end of your scheduled time and having to rush through the last ten slides. Your audience will sense your haste and tune out before you do.
Don’t forget to practice with the webinar technology. Changing slides, reading attendee questions, and adjusting microphone levels should all be second nature – time is too precious during the live webinar to waste hunting the screen for the right button or trying to recover from a mistake.
Have a few seed questions to help get the Q&A started. It’s a way of making people comfortable enough to ask their own questions.
When you actually do the webinar, make sure your voice is warmed up. Warm up by singing or humming. If you don’t sing, read something you enjoy, out loud.
Think of one specific person to talk to. Whether you have an actual person in the room or just a picture in your mind, have someone to aim your presentation to.
If you’re doing this in your home office, don’t do it in your sweats. Wear something like your usual business attire, and smile. People can hear it in your voice.
Have a glass of water nearby. Take a deep breath, hold it, let it out slowly, then – showtime!