Presenting material to an audience takes a lot of thought and preparation. A webinar is no different. Webinars are an excellent tool for reaching a large audience cost-effectively but you must schedule your time out and find exactly what needs to be done to produce an effective webinar. Here are some ideas to help you better organize yourself pre-webinar.
What are the objectives of the presentation. Education? Training? Lead generation? What is it you want the audience to get from your presentation? Then move backward in the process: from the desired result toward how to get there. As you do the ’high level’ thinking, determine what is going to get the audience to pay attention to your content and then take the desired action.
Right upfront explain exactly what is “in it for your audience.” What will they learn and how will it help them. This, of course, should be in your marketing invitation/material, but should be restated at the beginning of your presentation. Some presenters prefer to arrange their content so that the most important information is up front. This may or may not fit your presentation or purpose. One thing is for sure, end your presentation with a slide stating the ‘call to action’ you want from your audience. Leave this slide showing during the Q&A session and any wrap-up remarks.
Make the time to learn the technical end of the presentation. Find out from your service provider what your obligations are. Do you need to learn the console? Do you need to call in early to set up? Do you need any training for the presentation? Asking these sort of questions will make your life easier when the time comes to present. In a multiple speaker situation, work out the presentation details together. Find out who is going to introduce who, how each of you will get control of the presentation if you are in different locations, and ask if the moderator will facilitate the Q&A session at the end of the presentation.
Just as in life, it is always good to have a back up plan. You want to maximize the ability to complete your presentation in the chance there is a technical problem during the presentation. Check with your webinar provider if there will be a live operator on the call with you. This will provide you an option if your internet goes down during your presentation. It is also a good idea to print out a hard copy of your presentation. Again, if your computer has problems you will have a stand by.
This area is often neglected with presenters. Just because you are often not seen during the presentation, doesn’t mean you can let your presentation suffer. Make sure you set up your environment and technology. You need to eliminate items that could distract you and your audience. Find a quiet room with a door. Presenting from a cubicle or open-space environment offers too many opportunities for noise and distraction. If you do appear on camera, make sure that the background is free of visual distractions such as windows to public areas or other workers.
The number one rule to live by is to never use a speakerphone or cell phone to deliver your presentation. Speakerphones pick up noises such as rustling papers and squeaking chairs. Cell phones are prone to audio dropouts, fuzzy and have inconsistent volume levels. Investing in a high quality headset is ideal for presenters who will be doing many presentations. Headsets also allow for you to stand up during the presentation as well as move around. Standing up and moving around will bring more energy to your voice.
You also want to make sure to turn off your call waiting during the presentation. This could distract not only you but the audience as well.
No one wants to be bored to tears. You need to have enthusiasm in your voice. Present as though you were presenting the material in person. It is much harder to portray enthusiasm when you take away all your non verbal cues. Stand up and pace while you speak, or make hand and arm gestures while talking. Physical activity encourages greater oxygen flow in your bloodstream, which translates to a more energetic delivery.
Keep enthusiasm in the words you use. If you sound interested in your material, it will translate to your audience. Remember to smile. This may seem odd, since no one can see you, but the audience can hear the change in tone that accompanies a smile.
Avoid using only text in your slides. Break up your key points into individual slides and find graphics that support your text. Use high-contrast colors, let the foreground text be easily read over the background. Remember that some attendees may be watching on small screens. Make text and graphics large and easy to read at a glance.
Avoid the temptation to add repetitive, distracting animations such as text that flies in for each bullet point. You will want to double check with your webinar provider if their system will support animation before adding it. Don’t forget you can also use annotation features in your webinar software to draw lines, drop arrows, and highlighters that pull your audience’s focus to the screen and synchronize their attention to your speaking point.
Keeping your presentation interactive will help keep your audience stay connected to you as the presenter. You can do this by including polls or chat questions. Polling your audience will keep them on their toes, and you can get valuable information as well.
If you get chat questions from the audience, refer to the questioner by their first name. Everyone likes to be acknowledged. Using their name makes them feel you care enough to not only answer their question, but also take the time to see who they are.
Another great idea is to have a live question and answer session. Live questions often benefit everyone since others can hear the question from the source. Some fully managed webinar providers include a live moderator to facilitate the Q&A, which adds a more professional touch to the event.
Prepare a few FAQ’s in advance to get the ball rolling for your question and answer session. No one likes to be the first person to ask a question. If you use your FAQ’s correctly it usually jump starts people into asking more questions.
Once your presentation has ended, your work is not finished. If you have delivered value to your audience with a well-planned and executed presentation, they are receptive to further communications. If the goal of the webinar was lead generation, a planned follow-up process should be in place before you give your presentation.
Make sure you scheduled time immediately after the presentation to answer any unanswered questions of your participants. Also look for substantive questions that indicate a real interest in your company or your subject matter.
Note any requests for more information or a follow-up contact, and get back to those people the same day, if at all possible. Getting feedback from your participants is a great idea as well. Having a post-event survey is a great way to do this. You can customize the survey to fit your needs. Ask questions on how well the presentation was, was it informative, are they interested in receiving more information about your services, etc.
As part of your plan for post event follow-up don’t forget to contact registrants who did not attend. Let them know they can listen to a recording of the webinar or register for another upcoming one. People will appreciate you acknowledging they couldn’t make it and you cared enough to send them a recording.
A webinar is no different than a live presentation when it comes to the amount of thought and preparation required. Remember webinars are an excellent tool for reaching large audiences cost-effectively. With a compelling invitation, content and speaker it will be a great tool to use for your company.