Most webinars are dreadfully boring.
Whether the problem lies in long-winded presenters, technical difficulties or irrelevant (or just boring) material, many webinar pitfalls make us curse the moment we chose to tune in.
It doesn’t have to be so bad. Here are a handful of webinar pointers, as well as a few virtual communication tips adapted from Nick Morgan’s new book, “Can You Hear Me?”
1. Use the “video” feature of webinar software.
2. If you do use video, invest in a good external webcam. Position your webcam so that you’re looking directly into it when you speak. (Try the Logitech BRIO Ultra HD webcam.)
3. Stand up when you present. Use a standup desk to optimize the positioning of the camera.
4. Use a remote control to advance your slides so you aren’t constantly fumbling for the button on your computer. (The SMK-Link RemotePoint Global Presenter works well.)
5. Use a microphone that allows you to move around so that your head is not always in the same place. Motion on the webcam is good. (The Sennheiser OfficeRunner wireless headset is a wise choice.)
6. Crank up your emotion to 10—or perhaps even 11. Vary the pitch and cadence of your voice. Also, exaggerate laughter and other actions to convey emotion. When you present using virtual technology, you don’t have the same emotional cues as you would when face to face with an audience, so go above and beyond to establish an emotional connection.
7. Use gestures frequently; don’t be just a talking head. Use your arms and hands (and even your legs) to communicate.
8. Try to present an average of three slides per minute. Varying the visuals is essential, and a snappy pace keeps people engaged. Just make sure your slides are light on text and heavy on images.
9. Aim for a 30-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. Avoid going over 45 minutes total. People want to get in and get out in under an hour. Nick Morgan suggests speaking for about 10 minutes, taking some questions, then repeating that cycle a few times. This approach might not suit every presenter, but it will keep the audience engaged.
10. Use Twitter as a side channel for people to communicate during the webinar. Publish your Twitter ID and the webinar hashtag on the bottom of every slide, and encourage people to participate online.
11. Have participants ask questions via private chat to the webinar host, and have the host queue up the questions and ask you them aloud. This approach means less fumbling at Q&A time.
12. After the webinar concludes, jump into the Twitter stream. Respond to everyone and every question—no matter how long it takes.
Webinars can be a great vehicle to convey information, expand your audience and establish expertise—if you’re able to overcome the limitations of the technology. Just keep your content interesting, informative and helpful, and work hard to establish a genuine, visceral emotional connection with your audience.