4 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Webinar
You’ve been asked to give a webinar, and you want to knock it out of the park.
So you compile all your information and opinions into an airtight outline, and design a lovely PowerPoint deck. Then you practice until you know your presentation cold. Good to go, right?
Well, it’s a good start. But lots of webinars that look good in PowerPoint fizzle when they’re actually delivered. Here are four reasons why yours could be next.
YOU’RE SITTING DOWN
“The fundamentals of giving a webinar are very similar to live presentation—except all you have is your voice,” says Eliot Shapiro, co-founder of Northbrook, Illinois-based EMS Communications. “And what you do with your body has an impact on your voice.”
Shapiro recommends you wear a headset and stand while you give your webinar. “Make eye contact with photos or objects on your desk. Walk around. Make gestures. Channel your inner Jim Carrey and overdo your facial expressions. Your audience can hear every gesture.”
You might feel strange, but that’s okay—you’ll sound more energetic.
YOUR AUDIENCE IS JUST SITTING THERE
The average webinar lasts 45 minutes to an hour. Too bad the average adult attention span is only eight minutes.
“Change something up every eight minutes or so,” says Deb St. John, President of Washington, D.C.-based Shoshin Group. “Change the pace or the way you share the information to shift the energy.”
Most presenters master the audio and visuals, St. John says, but few consider the kinesthetic components of their webinars. “Many people learn by doing. Invite attendees to participate—suggest an exercise, or ask them to imagine something or answer questions. If you make them active participants, your material will engage and stick.”
YOU’RE IN OVERLOAD MODE
You have 45 minutes to share everything you know about a subject you love. Go for it!
Or not. St. John says, “The worst thing you can do is trying to stuff 10 pounds of content into a 5-pound bag. Have clear boundaries for your content, and focus on the most poignant part.”
Shapiro advises restraint on your slides, too. “When you put too much content on slides, people don’t listen to you. Don’t make them decide which is more important—the screen or your voice. A simple word or phrase on the screen keeps their attention on you.”
Of course, if you intend to share your deck, that creates a conundrum: too much information makes your slides boring, but when people download your presentation they won’t have your voice to fill in between the bullet points. Shapiro’s solution? Create a different deck for sharing, with all your spoken content on screen.
YOUR Q&A IS A MESS
Say your presentation is perfect: energetic, engaging and focused. Don’t blow it by turning the Q&A into a free-for-all.
You’ve probably seen it. Questions don’t appear on screen, so no one knows what’s been asked. Answers run all over the map. Everyone talks too fast, and there’s nothing on screen but a big THANK YOU.
You need to prepare for the Q&A as thoroughly as you do for the presentation. St. John says, “Take a page from the media training political and business leaders do—answer questions with a headline and soundbite.”
Shapiro advises, “Repeat the question, then tell them only what they need to know, not what’s nice to know.”
Both recommend preparing a list of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) beforehand. You’ll be ready with concise answers—and if no one asks anything, you can “plant” one or two questions to prompt your audience.
Do it right, and someone’s bound to ask, “How did you make your webinar so great?”
Senior Copywriter Jeff Segal writes blogs and social content for several SN clients, while crusading tirelessly against the words provide, quality, strive and utilize.