Whenever you present, whether you're talking to one person or a thousand, you usually want to get a specific message across. Anyone who sets out to persuade and propel with the spoken word faces pitfalls. As technology and travel budgets play a more important part in our lives, you have yet another challenge: how do you communicate through a webinar, using only your voice and slides? What is different about this mode of presentation? How do you catch and keep your audience? Here are some tips:
1. Before you begin, use looping slides.
Once your audience tunes in, how do you keep them entertained and involved even before the event starts? Use looping slides to convey important information while attendees are waiting for your presentation to begin, including:
2. Be more visual in your presentation.
Be creative. Think Hollywood! Tell stories and give examples as you go through your program, the same way you would in person. However, your webinar needs more visuals to help engage the audience. Use more slides than with an in-person presentation. Add bullet points one at a time as you build. Don't present a list of all your points before you discuss them. Keep it simple and keep it moving.
3. Plan your structure.
Outline your presentation on paper before your build the PowerPoint®. You have to get messy before you get tidy! It is better to have fewer points and illustrate them well. Be sure you:
4. Open with a grabber slide and comment.
After your grabber slide, it is up to you to engage your audience immediately with a powerful, relevant opening that includes the word "you." Your grabber opening might be:
Never start by saying, "Good morning, everyone." Instead, say something like, "Welcome! You are in for a treat! You are about to learn how to..." As you introduce the session, sell the listeners on how they are going to benefit. Keep them glued. Remember, they can't see you, so it is all too easy for them to answer their email or go get a cup of coffee.
5. Introduce yourself.
Once you have sold the session, you can introduce yourself if someone else is not doing it. Do not do it first. Just as with an in-person session, first say something the listeners care about, and then they will care about who you are.
6. Forge an emotional connection.
The most powerful communication combines making both intellectual and emotional connections. Intellectual means appealing to educated self-interest with data and reasoned arguments. Emotion comes from engaging the listeners' imaginations, involving them in your illustrative stories by frequent use of the word "you" and from answering their unspoken question, "What's in this for me?"
7. Build in interaction.
Depending on the technology you are using, make sure you interact whenever logical. For example, stop and ask, "Based on what you have heard so far, what are your questions?"
8. Use memorable stories.
People rarely remember your exact words. Instead, they remember the mental images that your words inspire. Support your key points with vivid, relevant stories. Help them make the movie in their heads by using memorable characters, exciting situations, dialogue and humor. With a combination of examples and visuals, your presentation will be memorable.
9. Use effective pauses.
Good music and good communication both contain changes of pace, pauses and full rests. This is where your listeners think about what they have just heard. If you rush on at full speed to crowd in as much information as possible, chances are you've left your listeners back at the station. It's okay to talk quickly, but whenever you say something profound or proactive or ask a rhetorical question, pause.
10. Avoid irritating non-words.
If you frequently say hmm, ah or eh on a webinar, this habit will only be emphasized. Are you doing it? Why not have a run through and record yourself. As with in-person presentations, rehearsal is the work, performance is the relaxation.
11. Deliver a powerful close.
Always review your key ideas. Be clear what your attendees' next logical steps should be. Send them off energized and focused. Your last words linger. Make sure they are yours—don't quote anyone else—and make sure they are powerful.
12. Have a back-up computer.
A practical suggestion that could pay off big time: have two computers tuned into the webinar. This way, when one computer freezes, you can quickly get your second computer to the place where the first had frozen, and it will take only a few moments to get on with the show. With technology... you never know!
PATRICA FRIPP is a speech coach, sales trainer
and keynote speaker. She is the author of many
programs and books on public speaking,
including Speaker's EDGE: Secrets and
Strategies for Connecting with Any Audience.