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BLOGDelivering Engaging Webinars and Zoom presentations

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, PresentationsTagged as: , ,

Have you ever listened to a webinar or in a Zoom presentation, and found your mind wandering?  Or perhaps you let the webinar play on while taking care of other more important activities on your computer?  And what if that incredibly dull presenter… is actually be you?  And that the mind-wandering, computer-keyboard-clicking audience is the group you are unknowingly disengaging.

So how do you deliver killer webinars and virtual presentations, where your audience is engaged and you achieve your goals.  Here are six ideas:

1) Content:  A single, focused topic is best.  Use stories to connect emotionally to the audience; this will make it more interesting, and also improve recall.  Skip the prepared speech, and use short-form notes to present more naturally.

2) Voice:  When the audience cannot see you, they can’t interpret your body language.  They will, however, rely on your vocal cues, so give them what they need. Vary your pitch, your volume, your speed, your inflection: the voice is a powerful musical instrument and doesn’t sound good in a monotone.  And when they can see you, voice is just as important… as is facial expression and body language.

3) Slides:  There is plenty of advice on the mechanics for making great slides, but here are my guidelines.  Use a simple template that doesn’t distract from the content.  But “break free” of the template from time to time for visual interest, or to make an important point.  Remember that the viewing window may not be “full screen” on the computer, or it may be viewed on a phone or tablet: skip the overly complex diagrams or anything not understandable at a glance.  And don’t forget to change the slides often enough so that the audience isn’t bored looking at the same thing for too long.

4) Interaction:  Use polling to get instant audience feedback at several points of the presentation.  This makes it more interesting for them, but also gives you critical intelligence to focus your presentation on their needs.  Another interaction technique is to encourage questions and back-channel chat.  This can be done either through the software’s interface, or using a #hashtag on Twitter.  If you do run a back-channel, use a colleague to monitor/respond: you need to focus on a great delivery.  If you are presenting where you can see the participants, such as using Zoom, get them to put up their hands to agree, wave, hold up colored cards, or anything else gets them involved.

5) Rehearsal:  Winging it is both risky for you, and disrespectful to your audience; if it is worth everyone’s time to listen to you, it is worth your time to do your best.  The best rehearsals are the ones where you use the webinar software’s built-in recording feature, then listen to your rehearsal, taking notes.  And then repeat.  Since we are all our own toughest critic, this type of rehearsal is exceptionally powerful.  And humbling.

6) Studio upgrades:  Expectations today are exceptionally high: make sure that you have proper lighting, proper microphones, and a set that looks professional.  As a professional speaker, I also can use multiple cameras, switchers, picture-on-picture, and multiple staging options: standing, sitting, boardroom, green screen, etc.  It all combats the boredom of the usual.   More on using video.


If you do have a webinar (or presentation) coming up, improve the experience for your audience by using these six techniques.

Marketing Insight:  Not everyone likes to read blog posts, white papers, or books.  The success of YouTube (and TV, for that matter) are further evidence of this.  Webinars and Virtual Presentations have a powerful place in a marketer’s arsenal, precisely because it keys into this viewing experience.  The success of them, however, is not guaranteed.  A lousy “performance” by the presenter reflects on the brand directly.  There must be an investment in recruiting the right attendees.  And the webinar or virtual presentation itself must be part of an integrated marketing process, with an embedded call-to-action and follow-up.

Shameless plug:  I have been doing virtual presentations for 10+ years, with groups as low as 10 people, to groups with over 4000 people in the audience.  Would love the opportunity to discuss how I can make a difference at your next virtual event or meeting.

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
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Randall Craig

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