It’s quite common to be in the midst of a webinar and realise that your attention has been stolen by an online video, a social media notification, or any of the other thousands of distractions that can very easily draw your attention away from a boring webinar. Webinars are really a chance for businesses to sell their products and services, and step one to doing that is engaging audiences with an effective presentation. Below are some tips to help you do this efficiently and ensure that what you have to say is actually being heard.
The focus is always on the delivery
Unlike traditional presentations, you can’t rely on physical presence and movement to engage an audience when delivering a webinar. Therefore, you should constantly be aware of your tone, rhythm and volume, to ensure that your voice is as active as possible. This way, your audience will feel more compelled to listen. When delivering your presentation, you should also be aware of your body. Make sure that your physical movements (fiddling, pacing) aren’t becoming distracting for your audience, otherwise you can take away from the value of what is being said.
Over-structuring can mean a lack of authenticity
People often structure, and rote learn their speeches and presentations to put them at ease. If they know exactly what they’re going to say, they can’t mess up right? True, but if you’re flat and robotic in your presentation style – people will struggle to connect with it. Everyone prefers to feel like they are in conversation with someone during a presentation; it makes it more engaging for the viewer. The key to achieving this conversational presentation style is by steering clear of jargon and formal attitudes. If you use too much jargon, your presentation will seem exclusive and your audience will feel like they are not being addressed and will lose interest immediately. Dropping academic language does not lessen what you are saying, it makes it more inclusive – which when it comes to selling something – is an incredibly positive thing.
Tell a good story
Stories have been proven to be the best way to engage an audience (just look at the opening segment of any TedTalk.) They are enjoyable, they follow a pattern and take us on a journey that we are compelled to hear the end of. A presenter sharing a personal story will always connect with an audience. It’s the beauty of vulnerability. Showing others that you’re human and opening up and giving the audience a chance to get to know you will make it easier for them to connect with you and what you’re saying. They also leave audiences in a state of susceptibility; listening to your ideas and concepts with their guards down. By putting your information into a real-life context, told through a story and supported by engaging visual content, the audience will not be able to turn away.
Never lose the focus of your audience
Whether it be a presentation for a product, service or an information session – people don’t want to know the intricacies of it. Everyone knows what a frying pan does, everyone knows why renewable energy is important – what they don’t know is how it affects them. It is important when giving a presentation that you focus on how it relates to them. What does it mean to your audience? What can you tell them about it that’s new? What does your information address for them?
Know your plan of action
Rehearsing and memorising is the only sure-fire way to remain confident in your content as well as your delivery. If you don’t know your content, the audience will immediately be able to tell, and you will appear to be less confident and uninformed about the topic; which can damage your credibility and your reputation as an expert. By knowing what you are talking about and having a clear understanding of where your speech is going, you are also able to deviate when necessary, engage in questions more easily, and always be able to come back on topic. Just make sure that you aren’t ‘memorising your script, you’re memorising your structure and plan of action.
Make your main points memorable
Your audience will struggle to remember everything you say, that’s a given. But, if you really make your main points stand out by tying them in with anecdotes, stories, videos and graphics, they will be left with the vital points of what you are trying to say. Just make sure you keep them short, use them only when strictly necessary and keep them relevant.
Get them involved and make them think
It is common practice to engage audiences by openly asking them questions. Often they involve a hand raise or a yes or no answer. However, if you ask them something like “what do you think America’s favorite fruit is?” as opposed to “who likes apples?” you’re giving them a chance to really think, rather than just engage.
The best speakers are never rushed
The human brain needs time to process new concepts and so by overloading your speech with too many new ideas, it becomes too much work and most people will switch off. Though, it is important to remember that while silence can be used for emphasis and to slow things down and give time for an audience to process information, speed can be used just as effectively to create momentum. The most effective speeches will follow a roller coaster type pattern involving speed, rhythm and a variation of content and emotion. It sounds like a lot, but it’s fairly typical of any great performance to take you on a journey. They often start big, slow down, mix it up with story and fact, make you laugh, make you think, and above all entertain.
Unfortunately, webinars aren’t as simple as conversing with an audience of interested viewers through a webcam or simply delivering a speech. In order for your webinar to be really effective you need to incorporate a variety of tools and techniques to keep your presentation fresh and engaging.