7 Tips for a Better Webinar
Make your webinar as effective as an in-person presentation
I’ve learned a few things from both hosting and attending webinars.
Presenting online isn’t as fun as presenting in-person. Talking at a screen is unnatural. There’s little human connection. Your audience can leave at any moment.
I’ve hosted webinars about artificial intelligence in business. Some find the topic interesting. Others don’t. I quickly learned that the audience will drift unless they are kept engaged.
I’ve watched business owners convincingly promote services and spur potential buyers to action. I’ve watched industry experts convey complex ideas in ways that common folk can relate to.
These great presenters employed 7 techniques, which I’ll describe here.
#1: Make it interactive
As a presenter, you compete against email, social media and YouTube. How can you ensure that your viewers are focused on your presentation?
Put yourself on video. People can relate to you if they can see you. They can react to your facial expressions and gestures. It feels more like a conversation.
Play videos. Give your audience a break from slides. Images resonate with people. Videos, even more so.
Encourage interaction. Conduct polls and invite discussion. Ask people to type questions into the chat, or even better, unmute their mic to speak. Thoughtful questions increase interest and engagement.
Give breaks so that people can check emails and browse social media. Let them get it out of their system.
#2: Forge a connection with your audience
As a presenter, you can’t connect with your audience. Talking at a screen is like talking to yourself. Your audience is a sea of faceless boxes on-screen.
Ask the audience to turn on their video when possible. Tell them that this makes for a better conversation and invite the conversation at specific times. Of course, it’s a good idea to mute attendees’ mics by default to minimize disruption.
Stand up and talk like you’re presenting to a live audience, especially if you’re not able to turn on your webcam. Standing up and pretending there are people in the room helps you modulate your tone of voice and use natural body language.
Maintain eye contact if you are on camera. Look directly at the camera and pretend it is a person you’re chatting with. Also, pretend that you like this person! This will help you smile and appear affable.
#3: Simplify your slides
Your viewers will judge you by your slides since you’re not there in-person. Your slides should be easy on the eyes and brain. That way, people will focus on what you say, which is the point of a webinar.
#4: Add structure to your presentation
Lead your audience on a journey to a brighter future. Tell them what the present is like. Tease them with a vision of a better future. Explain how to get there. Tell your audience what they must do. They are more likely to take action if the vision is convincing.
If you’re presenting a project plan to senior management, explain the current state of affairs at your company, including pain points. Tell them how the company will benefit if ‘X’ problem could be fixed. Explain how your project will achieve this. Ask the management team for resources and buy-in.
If you’re presenting a webinar to sell your blogging strategy course, explain how difficult it is to make money by blogging. Show the audience success stories of bloggers that ‘made it’. Explain how your course will give people a roadmap to similar success. Be transparent on pricing and the workload that your audience must commit to.
Incorporate storytelling techniques so your audience hangs on till the end. If you feature in your story (e.g. a personal experience or how you overcame a challenge), your audience will root for you. It makes you relatable and the service you’re selling might sound more appealing as a result.
Use executive summaries and conclusions. People remember the first and last things you say. Tell your audience early on why they should care.
Feed your audience content in small chunks. It minimizes their chance of zoning out.
#5: Use your voice to its fullest
Show passion. Show the audience that your content matters to you. Modulate your voice to convey emotion. Use pauses so that your voice doesn’t turn into background noise.
Repeat simple key messages. You can’t stop people from zoning out from time to time. This way, they will at least retain key points.
Keep bringing your audience back. Call attention to your slides periodically. Something like “Look at this chart, this is is exactly what I mean!” Share an analogy or personal story to underscore the point you’re trying to make.
Bring in another presenter. Let’s face it, even your melodic voice will get dull after a while. A new voice will reengage the audience.
#6: Think Like an Entertainer
Study entertainers. We like vlogs and podcasts because the are entertaining. Stand-up comics, actors and TV personalities get their message across impactfully. Simple sentences, punchy ideas, humor, and emotion.
A little humor or change in tone does wonders to kill boredom. A light-hearted comment reminds the audience that you’re an interesting human worth listening to, and not this guy reading for 42 minutes in a monotone (if you have trouble sleeping I highly recommend it).
#7 Give a little gift
Give your audience something for attending. They endured an entire webinar. This must be recognized and respected. Email them a free resource. Send them a free chapter of your book or part of a report that your company usually charges for.
By giving people something of value for free, you show that you’re not out to just take their money.
I write about how AI and blockchain can help business and society.