A recent Webinar training session at my work was attended by hundreds of people. The trainer confidently switched from one slide to another, bravely leading us through the steps required to move to our new email system showing his skills in “change management”.
Perhaps if he’d have been more experienced he may have asked a moderator to monitor the chat window. If he had, perhaps he may have been more effective, particularly since over half of his listeners we experiencing severe would quality issues. Some of the messages went like this:
“I can’t hear a thing”
“bum buk buk”
“He sounds like a chicken”
“For Gods sake somebody stop him”
“Darmock and Gilard at Tenegra”
“Please go back a few slides, we can’t hear you”
He talked on obliviously, learly ignoring both that chat window and the uproarious laughs around the office (obviously he was sitting in a little office somewhere on his own).
I admit that in the past I approached the idea of giving my own Webinars with some trepidation. I’m fine with the technology, but I am skeptical about how that anonymous voice can effectively hold the attention well enough to be really effective.
Recently I’ve been required to give some webinars, so I’ve done some research, which I share below…
Obviously the first thing to realize is that a Webinar is a presentation like any other, so the first tip will come as no surprise. You need a “hook”. The “hook” is an effective introduction that will grab your audience’s attention. It can be an arresting statistic, a quote or an anecdote, although the most effective is an interesting story.
Note to self : A good joke can work well when you’re physically present, as you can sense the mood and “work the room”. In a Webinar this may not be a good idea. Emphasise your points instead.
Therefore it should also be obvious that you must introduce yourself second. The hook should piqued your audiences curiosity about you, now it’s time to reveal who you are. Make sure it’s a good hook won’t you?
Do you inspire others by your presence? Are your dress, manner and comeliness captivating? It’s not going to help you in a Webinar, where these things are very much understated.
Psychologists suggest that people remember:
10% of what they hear
20% of what they read
30-40% of what they see
60-70% of what they see and hear
What matters greatly in a Webinar, besides your usual presentation skills is quality visuals. Your presentation has to be the best it can be. this may mean more than powerpoint, it may also mean video and demos. It must fit your talk perfectly and it must convey the right professional message.
If you think about it, you will realise that webinars can provide a level of interaction that is superior to the past. You can communicate to large numbers of people, yet using features like chat and voting you can also interact with them. Interact with them at the rate you choose.
That’s why it’s useful to have a moderator. This is someone that can monitor the chat window and verbalise questions from the audience. They may also help the speaker to pause whilst sound problems are being worked out. At the very least it gives you someone to talk to.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with the technology. Ensure the sound quality is good, your webcam isn’t upside down, all the software works and you have a good network connection.
It may be helpful to have a confederate in the audience who can warn you of problems such as sound quality so
Start and end on time
Because you a speaking to many people in many different places, it’s important that the meeting be coordinated. In my experience it’s common for audiences to book meeting rooms for webinars, so you need to respect that.
Offer a takeaway
It’s an effective device to offer some sort of “takeaway” after a presentation. Perhaps a white paper, a link to a video or some other information. It may give the audience members mire time to contemplate your points.
Like it or not webinars will increasingly be a feature of our online society. Those who can run them effectively will be able to be far more effective than those who choose the more comfortable traditional means. They can be hard to get used to, but they are just another form of presentation, so all your skills will still be relevant. Persist and you and your audience will be rewarded.