It’s been a while since my last post. Since then we’ve all found ourselves working from home more due to the current pandemic. Our sales and marketing activities have all transitioned completely online, no trade shows, seminars or face-to-face customer meetings.
So, that leads me to our blog topic for today, how to deliver a better webinar. Some to these may sound similar to my blog post on delivering better demonstrations. That shouldn’t be a surprise, there is a lot of overlap!
1. Stay Focused
When you’re delivering a webinar, there are a lot of things going on at once. Concentration and focus is key. If you are distracted and losing your train of thought, your audiences mind will wander as well. Because of that, you want to minimize as many distractions as you can. That means closing any browser windows you don’t need open, minimize your email, shutdown Twitter and other social media streams. Once glance at an email subject line or a tweet is enough to throw you off your rhythm.
On one of the last webinars I presented, I found myself doing all the following:
- Delivering the slides
- Doing a short demonstration
- Checking the Q&A window for questions
- Filtering the questions into the ones I’d answer during the webinar, save for the end or ignore
- Having a background chat in Teams with my production team
That’s a lot to keep on top off. To help stay focused, maintain the flow and deliver a better webinar, I use a variety of methods. I’ll often have a printed page with a set of high level bullets to help me hit all the right points in my demo. In PowerPoint I’ll use Presenter mode, so I can see my notes and bullets for the slides on my alternate monitor. Most importantly, regardless of how well I know the topic, I’ll do one or more dry runs to ensure the flow works, the cut-over to a demo is smooth and it all fits into the allotted time slot with time for Q&A.
2. Know Your Material
When you are delivering a webinar (or really any public facing presentation), you need to project an air of authority. Your audience, well most of them, is tuning in to learn something about the topic. You don’t have to be an industry expert, but you should be well prepared on the topic and have specific points you want to get across. Backup your points with facts, statistics or real-world customer use cases. With a little Google searching you can find published analyst reports and other facts to help make your points. Put the references on the bottom of the slide for your audience to refer to late.
Customer use cases or ROI (return on investment) studies are fantastic references to use if you have some. You don’t have to have customer names in the case studies, not all companies want to be a public reference. The case studies can be anonymous if the data and the story is good and help illustrate your points.
Also, let me repeat what I said in the previous section, practice and do dry runs. Do as many as you need to feel comfortable.
3. Keep It Simple
Keep your slides clean and visual. A picture really is worth a thousand words. Don’t overload the slides with too much text. Outline your key points on the slide and then talk to them to make your point. If you put too much text on your slides your audience will be busy reading ahead and not listening to you.
Don’t read the slides to your audience, paraphrase the content for them. Make the slides available for download as a reference after the webinar.
Minimize the builds and transitions on your slides. If attendees are on weak internet connections or have a lot of network latency, they will constantly be behind you in the webinar.
If you have more than one presenter, try to minimize the number of times you switch screen sharing. It can be distracting if there are multiple cut overs to switch screens. If everything can be shared from one machine, that’s optimal. Put the slides on the same machine as the demo when possible. Let one person advance the slides for the presenter, or share control of the desktop. If you have to switch screen sharing between presenters, arrange the flow to minimize how many times you do.
4. Engage Your Audience
While it may be a webinar, that doesn’t mean it can not be an interactive experience for your audience. In most webinars we always have a question section at the end, but what happens if no one asks a question? Always have a few canned questions ready for your host to ask, sometimes you just need to break the ice.
Most webinar tools now support interactive polling. Work 2 or 3 poll questions into your presentation. Use poll questions to gather a profile of your audience, their experiences or to validate your assumptions. It gets the audience engaged and they get real time feedback of the poll results. But, like we mentioned above, keep the poll questions and answers relatively simple to respond to. Ask close-ended questions that have a definitive answer.
Be creative in ways to get the audience involved without disrupting the flow of your webinar. Ask trivia questions, play multiple choice games, etc. It is one more way to keep everyone engaged and thinking about your content. You’ll have a better webinar experience as a result.
The key to a betterwebinar is making sure your audience walks away feeling like they’ve learned something. If you keep them engaged and share meaningful information, you’ll have a happy audience who will keep coming back.
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