9 Tips for Doing a Great WebinarArticle by Gilda Bonanno, March 9, 2020
Webinars are becoming increasingly common in today’s interconnected business world, especially with coronavirus travel restrictions. Participants log into the webinar application from their computer to view the presentation or document you’re sharing and hear you speak through their computer speakers or through a phone connection. In a webinar, even more so than in an in-person presentation, it’s crucial for you to capture and keep your audience’s attention; otherwise they will quickly move on to another task or start checking email.
- Be clear about your message
It will be easier for your audience to pay attention and follow you if you have a clear message. Eliminate any unnecessary material that could clutter your message and confuse your audience. Have a clear organizing principle and share your high-level agenda early in your presentation.
- Avoid text-heavy slides
People can read to themselves faster than you can read out loud, so they will finish reading the words before you and wonder when you’re going to move on. If you do have longer text on the slide, such as a quotation, leave that slide up for longer so people have time to read and absorb it.
- A picture really is worth a thousand words
Interesting, relevant visuals (rather than bulleted lists) are a great way to communicate your message. For maximum impact, fill the whole slide with the visual by dragging the corners of the photo to fill the slide, rather than leaving a big border around it. I highly recommend Presentation Zen, a wonderful book by Garr Reynolds which is my “go-to” resource for creating visual PowerPoint slides.
- Use high-quality photos
Real photos are often more appealing and memorable than cheesy clip art. You can find some free photos in PowerPoint or online (be careful with copyrighted images) and purchase photos from stock photo websites. I use my own photos, too. To illustrate the importance of self-confidence, for example, I use a photo I took of a peacock at a zoo. It’s on a slide with only the words, “be confident, not cocky,” in Gills Sans MT font, 40 point size.
- Plan ahead
Have an answer to the inevitable question, “will we get a copy of your slides?” While I usually provide a follow-up summary of key points, I don’t share a copy of my slides since they do not make much sense without my voiceover (after all, they are ONLY the visual aid – I am the presentation). Also decide if, when and how you will handle questions from the audience.
- Use more slides than usual
Having more slides than you usually would use in an in-person presentation will allow you to change slides quickly and keep people’s attention. They will be discouraged from disengaging from the webinar to multitask since they might miss something.
- Your voice matters
Unless you are also using video, your voice is the only element of body language that your audience has. Speak loudly and clearly enough so you can be heard and understood easily. Vary your volume, rate, pitch, etc. so you can communicate your meaning. Keep your voice hydrated. Standing up and smiling will make your voice sound more energized.
- Have a technical host
You want to focus on your presentation and not any technical issues. Have someone available (ideally co-located with you) to handle the technical aspects – such as participants having trouble logging in, finding the phone dial-in number, etc. He or she can also help with any interactive elements, monitor the chat screen, moderate questions and help if something goes wrong.
- Do a dress rehearsal
Test out your presentation and internet connection using the webinar software and ask others to log in so you can see how your slides look and find out if there is a delay as you advance the slides. This is especially necessary if your presentation includes many slides with photos, since it can be a big file and require more bandwidth.
The next time you have to present a webinar, follow these 9 tips to help you deliver a clear, effective presentation that engages your virtual audience and communicates your message.
© Gilda Bonanno LLC – Gilda Bonanno serves as a trusted advisor to executives and entrepreneurs to transform their communication, presentation and leadership skills. She has worked with companies on 4 continents, from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome. The instructional videos on her YouTube channel have received over 2 million views and her e-newsletter has reached subscribers in over 45 countries since 2008. For other articles or to receive Gilda’s e-newsletter, visit www.gildabonanno.com