The Redback Team
6th January 2016
3 Top Tips for Creating Your Best-Ever Webinar!
Take your webinars to the next level
Abby Clemence, Managing Director of Infinity Sponsorship and Founder of the world’s first online Sponsorship University for not-for-profits and Charities is guest blogging for Redbacktalk – our first ever!
She recently ran a webinar on behalf of Pro Bono Australia and it was off the charts! It was her first time in front of the Redback webinar wheel and like most, she couldn’t help but feel nervous and anxious as to how it will go…
Much to her surprise, the engagement during and after the webinar was buzzing (even though no interactive tools such as polling were used) and the feedback on how she presented was something that we here at Redback felt compelled to share with you!
Whether you’re an expert looking to improve your webinar presentation skills, or you are looking for tips on how to make the most of this technology before your organisation jumps in, this article is for you.
1. If you’re the expert, be the PASSIONATE expert!
Being the expert, doesn’t mean that you know stuff that nobody else knows, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you want to ‘lord’ your expertise over others in order to prove that you know ‘stuff’. It means that you have chosen to specialise and dive deeply into a specific area and that you also hopefully want to be able to share your knowledge to help others. That’s a great thing!
Being the expert is a responsibility. When you reach that point in your career where you can say that you are an expert in a particular field, that is a great accomplishment and along that journey I bet you will have accumulated a hell of a lot of passion for what you do!
Passion is an amazing emotion, don’t you think? It is transcendent.
You can certainly tell when someone is passionate about something. They become animated, positive, engaging and (if it is a subject that you are also interested in) it becomes magnetic to be near them as they share their knowledge, passion and expertise. Time can stand still, you are captivated.
When you present a webinar, generally you will be an expert in your field – no matter how big, niched, technical, whatever. You’re saying to others, ‘come and listen to what I have to say, I will share, educate, motivate and inspire you to grow.’
Like me, I’m sure you’ve attended webinars where you knew the presenter knew their stuff (i.e. they had great credentials, they were an expert in their field). I’m sure you will also agree that there is a HUGE difference (when you’re on the other end of the webinar listening in) between an expert who knows their stuff and a passionate expert who knows their stuff and wants to infect you with the desire to know more, do more and be more!
We all know that working with webinar technology presents challenges and opportunities in equal measure. Some people are worried about jumping in, for fear of not getting it right. The next time you are invited to be a webinar presenter be the passionate expert – the one who genuinely loves what you do. The one who knows they can add value to their listeners. The one who wants to inspire others. People will remember your passion and how it empowered them to want to do more.
This also relates to those of who might be looking for a compelling webinar presenter. Look for passion, excitement – people who love people and genuinely want to help. Their passion will always translate well through webinars to your attendees.
2. It’s all about connection. Let your voice be SEEN!
And I’m NOT talking about the strength of your internet connection!
One potential challenge with webinar platforms is that you do not always have the opportunity to be face-to-face with your audience (although some presenters see this as a positive – especially if you think you have a ‘face for radio‘, like me :)! Yes, you can use the webcam to allow your attendees to see you, but more often, presenters tend not to. It often feels ‘safer’ as the presenter, to deliver your message unseen in your empty room. But the very fact that you are alone in an empty room can be your biggest downfall as a webinar presenter!
It is ridiculously easy to fall into the trap of thinking that no-one is listening (and often for long-ish periods in a webinar) that’s how it feels. You speak. There is no interaction except a continuous stream of text in the bottom left hand corner of your screen that you dare not concentrate on in case you lose track of where you are, or worse, see a negative comment that means you may lose your confidence!
The worst thing you can do as a webinar presenter is to allow your voice to become monotone and uninspiring. Nothing will put people to sleep faster. If anything, when you present a webinar, (without the use of a webcam of some sort) you will have to work extra hard to keep your energy up! That’s why starting off by being the passionate expert will mean that you are half way there. If you love what you do, your passion will come across and people will stay engaged.
Some of the tips I use to create a sense of connection during my webinar presentations are:
- Stand up when you present – allow your lungs to fill with air (don’t hunch over in a chair). Feel free to gesticulate as you talk if that feels right for you – no-one’s watching anyway, so be natural. The more natural you are, the more comfortable you are. People will hear that in your voice and they will feel in turn relaxed and want to engage with you.
- Know your presentation back-to-front and inside-out – the better you know your presentation, the more you can concentrate on being engaging and lively. Which leads me to…
- Don’t read the slides word for word – your attendees can already see your slides and they will read them for themselves! Your slides should only provide points that you will address and expand on. This is your chance to show your expertise and experience by adding case studies, anecdotes, relevant stats and research, asking questions, doing polls and surveys, asking for feedback, whatever ties in best with your presentation.
- Pause. Breathe. Continue. Pause. Breathe. Continue. Sometimes pausing in a webinar feels like you’ve created an eternal gap where people will be wondering if their internet connection has failed! But the reality is, people are hearing your content for the first time and by pausing from time to time, you are allowing them to catch up with you, get on the same page and then you can move on together.
- Put yourself in your attendee’s shoes – you’ve probably attended less-than-brilliant webinars yourself, so this shouldn’t be too hard. Remember how difficult it is to stay focused when you only have a slide on your screen to look at. You are competing with people in their workplace (generally) and that means you are trying to cut through outside conversations, email alerts, their mobile phone and goodness knows what else! Your voice, intonation, ability to generate some fun, tell a story, be interesting and inspire people is what will make or break the presentation. Your content alone cannot do that, but we’ll get to that!
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. I always try to make some light fun of myself when I present. I know this may not suit everyone’s style, but some laughter, even a little giggle at yourself has an amazing ability to make others feel at ease. I’m not talking about humiliating self-deprecation, but we are all human and laughter is often the quickest way to find a nice connection with people.
- Be yourself. You’ve made mistakes – by revealing one or two things that may have not gone your way and showing how you improved as a result of that learning experience allows people to connect with you as a person. I know I’ve spoken about being a passionate expert, but that doesn’t mean you may not have made mistakes in your journey. People connect with people. Be fallible, be honest, be funny even. Just be yourself!
3. Be prepared to give away stuff for nothing.
As the passionate expert, I know you will be already using lots of ways to add value during your attendees. Practical tips. Great research. Compelling content. Awesome case studies. Fantastic job!
However, as we create ever-faster channels of communication and drive greater expectations to do more with less, people are looking for more immediate answers to their problems – easy solutions that they can implement straight away when their session with you has finished.
Inspiration is one component, but to be a great webinar presenter I think that you also have to be helpful.
Have you really considered your audience? What do they want? What do they need? What issues are they looking to resolve as a result of taking time out of their day to hear what you have to say?
As the passionate expert, you will have created all sorts of wonderful short cuts, templates, resources and tools that could help someone today. What are you able to give away that can be of value? I’m not talking about giving away all of your intellectual property that you’ve worked so hard to create, but by giving something away, it allows people to have a further experience of you after your initial time together on the webinar. If it was helpful to them, it might prompt them to visit your website and see what else you offer, follow you on social media, and download your free eBook – some further action that they may never have taken if you didn’t first offer to be the helpful one.
Let’s be honest, webinars are an extremely easy, popular and convenient platform to educate, inspire and move people into action, but too many presenters (and webinar organisers) think it’s all about the content. I’m not saying content that’s relevant to your audience is not important but look at it this way. If ‘content is king’, then when it comes to presenting webinars, the supreme-ruler-of-all-time-that-outranks- the-king will be your presenter’s ability to connect and inspire your audience.
If you happen to be an organisation that hasn’t yet delved into creating webinars, or perhaps you are looking for expert webinar presenters to add value to your community of followers, then feel free to use these tips as points for discussion with your webinar presenters to make sure that if they run a webinar on your behalf that it is flawless the first time round and your community of followers, members and supporters fall in love with you even more!
You can find out more about Infinity Sponsorship, the Sponsorship University for Not-for-Profits andCharities or having Abby present your next webinar by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1800 735 738.
Until next time,
Sara and Aiza