I’m doing a webinar on Weds, I’ll be trying to scratch the surface of (the very broad question)  “How to get your Experts to engage with content and social media” (if you are interested you can sign up via this webinar sign up link) I’ll be writing a couple of posts about the subject matter (watch this space….) but I felt inspired to write this post following a couple of webinars I attended last week and a few conversations around the topic, including some feedback from attendees at my last few of webinars.

Given the choice between meeting someone face to face, shaking their hand and being able to see their body language (and respond to it) throughout the meeting, and sitting on your own in a room, talking into a microphone and getting very little feedback – I would always choose the first option. So much of the way we communicate as humans is lost when you can’t see the other person! However, the world is changing and web meetings and webinars are an important part of business so we all need to be prepared…

Subject matter (and reciprocation) Obvious stuff here, but the people who attend are giving up their valuable time to listen to you. Make sure you are giving them something in return. Don’t just read out your latest blog post (however ground-breaking it may be) – give them something new and interesting!

Planning – A bit of a no brainer, but you would never turn up to a speaking engagement with no preparation, you might have incredible knowledge of your subject matter, but if you don’t plan beforehand, it’s pretty likely to come over that way, repetition, hesitation, deviation will all creep in along the way and you will come across as a bit of an idiot.

Length – I think the key is to keep it short and sweet. I have never watched beyond the 30 minute mark of a webinar (and probably never will!), unless your subject matter is mindblowing, it’s a big ask to expect people to stay tuned in for a long time. My pledge for the future is to keep to 15 minutes max.  

Pace & Practise – Trying to get 15 minutes material into a 30 minute slot or vice versa is a recipe for disaster. If you have done the planning, do the practise runs. Not only will you know exactly how long your webinar should be, you’ll also know your subject matter better and that always comes across.         

Posture, Voice and Tone – If I’m doing a webinar or web meeting on my own, I sometimes feel like a late night DJ on a local radio station – talking softly to one man driving a truck, an elderly lady that can’t sleep and a dog that knocked the radio off the table. It’s really easy to slouch over your microphone and mumble, something you wouldn’t do if you could see your audience. Get your posture right and your voice and tone will follow - pretend you are face to face with a real person that you want to impress and you’ll sound great!    

Story – Facts are interesting, but stories are compelling and hit all sorts of emotional buttons that naked facts will never push. Try to tell a story, about you, about people – whatever it may be. It’s easy to stop listening to a droning list of facts – it’s much harder to leave a compelling story half way through.

Visuals – Please please please don’t write down everything you are going to say on a sequence of slides and then read it out to the audience. That is not what they signed up for and gives them no reason to do anything but turn off and wait for you to publish the deck. Make it visual and compelling (I like to add a few surprises) test it out on your colleagues and always ask yourself “would I be interested if I was watching this?

Personality – Be yourself! It’s s battle cry for our times but there is no point trying to emulate David Attenborough or Steve Jobs, or desperately trying be a comedian if it doesn’t come naturally.

Audience Interaction & Questions – It’s great to have audience interaction, but it can be hard to keep your flow if you are stopping and starting – I like to ask for questions beforehand, that means I can build them in to my presentation and make sure I cover all the subject matter I promised as well as addressing questions.  

Feedback – Finally, always ask for feedback – and make sure you read it! The first time I did it, I was a little upset by some of the responses, but it helped me to hone my technique and work out how I could do better the next time.

Webinars can be daunting – far more daunting than presenting to a live audience! Try out some of these tips and let me know if they help….