Tips for giving a great webinar presentation

Just when you thought you’d finally mastered both the teleconference and the digital presentation, technology has found a way to bring the two together. Webinars have made it possible to collaborate remotely in more dynamic ways and seamlessly share information, such as documents, videos, and presentations in real time.

If presenting to large audiences in the flesh — which might include shareholders, customers, prospects, or suppliers — is already anxiety-producing, throwing feature-rich technology into the mix probably seems like a recipe for disaster. However, a few simple tips and strategies will have you harnessing the power of the webinar in no time.

How to create a captivating webinar:

Keep text elements concise . Focus on keywords and keep text content minimal. To keep audience engagement levels high and keep presentation flow on track, a virtual presentation should include some sort of slide movement every 20-40 seconds. This can include slide transitions, a brief annotation to a chart or graphic, or section highlights that draw the participant’s attention to important details.

Get graphic . In a face-to-face presentation, even if there isn’t a visual slide to look at, the audience can focus their attention on you while you’re speaking. However, this is not the case in a webinar, where it is easy to lose focus if the same slide appears on screen for a long time. Visual elements — and lots of them — will help hold your audience’s attention. Bonus points for including animation!

However, try and avoid transitioning through slides too quickly or incorporating slides that must be perfectly synced with specific speaking points. Depending on internet connection speeds, some participants may see quick-transitioning slides for only a split second and worry that they’ve missed something vital, or slides will display out of sync with your narration.

Include audience participation . Promote interaction with your audience by asking questions or polling the audience. Schedule time in your presentation for audience questions throughout and, if possible, arrange for a moderator to help field and sort through questions to help keep things on point and on track. If appropriate, include time for an open-ended discussion at the end of the presentation.

Lastly, plan out the logistics of your Q&A period in advance. Will you ask participants to “raise their hand” if they have a question? Do you want questions typed out and moderated by a helper? Whatever format you choose, make sure your audience is familiar with the expected webinar code of conduct from the start and provide gentle reminders. A quick heads up before your scheduled Q&A will give participants a chance to formulate their thoughts or type out their questions.

Webinar Presentation Tips:

Don’t be camera shy . Video is one of the most powerful features of the webinar medium. Watching someone give a presentation is much more engaging than just listening to a disembodied voice over teleconference. That being said, there are a few tips to make your on-camera persona appear polished and professional.

● Capture yourself at a good angle so that participants are seeing a straight-on view of your face

● Choose an appropriate backdrop. Your office may have a tremendous skyline view, but the blazing sun coming through your window may cast shadows and make it difficult for viewers to see you properly.

● Not presenting video of yourself speaking? Have a slide with your photo on it at the beginning of your presentation so that participants can visualize you talking to them during the webinar.

Find a quiet, interruption-free zone . Common sense dictates that you’ll want to avoid any background noise or disruptions during the time you’ve allotted for your webinar. But as the viral BBC interview has taught us, even the best laid plans can go awry. In addition to keeping the toddlers at bay, you will also want to silence your mobile phone and any other devices or alarms that could interrupt you. You may even prefer to use a headset to minimize any awkward echo from your computer speaker.

Practice, practice, practice . There’s an added layer of technological complexity involved with a webinar. In addition to practicing the timing and flow of the actual presentation content, you must also be confident in your ability to navigate the webinar software you’re using. Depending on the features you’re working with, make sure you know how to toggle between slides and screen sharing, how to mute or unmute participants, and how to access questions and comments.

An increasingly global workforce requires flexible information- and resource-sharing options. Technology has responded with increasingly sophisticated communication tools, which — when used well — help save both time and money.

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