Businessman Sleeping at workIf you’ve been on either side of a disappointing webinar and have lost faith in the medium, don’t get frustrated—webinars are just another form of public speaking, and there are techniques and tools anybody can use to refine their presentations.

We’ve got three tips for you today; stay tuned for three more next week.

1. Practice, practice, practice

It’s not easy to sound confident, informed, friendly, and intriguing all at the same time. So don’t leave it up to chance by skimping on practice. The world’s best and brightest speakers didn’t get to be that way by accident.

  • Practice delivering the key points of your presentation until you have purged every stammer, “uhh”, and “err” from your vocabulary. Even the most skilled expert sounds amateurish when meandering around the message with no focus and drive.
  • Being authoritative and focused does not mean becoming robotic or scripted. Practice with a listening partner and direct everything you say to them. If possible, do the same during your live presentation. This will allow you to sound more natural, and help the audience feel that the message is directed personally at them.
  • Time yourself during your practice sessions. Don’t fall into the trap of coming up on the end of your scheduled time and having to rush through the last ten slides. Your audience will sense your haste and tune out.
  • Don’t forget to practice with the webinar technology, too. Changing slides, reading attendee questions, and adjusting microphone levels should all be second-nature—time is too precious during the live webinar to waste hunting the screen for the right button, or trying to recover from a mistake.

2. Design appropriate, appealing visuals

Webinars are not just glorified teleconferences—the ability to share visual content can tremendously enhance your message. But weak visuals will literally cause your audience to avert their eyes, and once that happens, it will be difficult to hold their attention.

  • Design images which are easy to read and engaging to look at. Whenever possible, make your point with pictures, not words.
  • Avoid the trap of designing your images for a large projection screen. Your audience may be watching the presentation in a window on a small screen—even a tablet or a smartphone.
  • That also means a presentation which works very well in a conference room or auditorium needs to be revised for the webinar format. Slides look very different in a 5-inch window than they do on a 15-foot projection screen.

3. Respect the audience’s time

No matter how vital or valuable you feel the information you’re sharing is, remember that your audience’s time is valuable and should be treated accordingly.

  • Even if you feel the invitation and confirmation pages or emails made this information clear, state clearly the objectives for the webinar as well as the estimated runtime when you begin. If possible, tell the audience how much time will be set aside for Q&A.
  • Establish clear and unique takeaways for your webinar content. Simply putting your own brand on information available anywhere on the Web will waste your viewers’ time.
  • Create a call to action which helps the audience realize value from your advice in the short term, or immediately. Instant gratification builds loyalty, meaning your audience will be back for more.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the quirks and glitches of your webinar platform will make it easier for you to recover from the occasional bug or error, without losing minutes of precious time to tech support.

Next week we’ll outline the final three tips for acing your next webinar. In the meantime, did you know that Act-On can manage your online event campaign from start to finish, using timed and tailored email messaging, landing pages and registration forms, trigger emails, and follow-up messages? Learn more.