No matter what you level of public speaking experience, whenever you open your mouth, whether you’re talking to one person or a thousand, you usually want to get a specific message across. Anyone who sets out to present, persuade, and propel with the spoken word faces pitfalls. And, as technology and travel budgets play a more important part in our lives, you have yet another challenge: What do you do when you are communicating through a Webinar? What is different about a Webinar presentation? How do you catch and keep your audience? Here are some tips.
Before You Start, Use Looping Slides
Once your audience tunes in, how do you make sure they are entertained and feel involved even before the event starts? The best way is with a series of Looping Slides. Looping Slides are a great way to convey important information and to keep attendees entertained while waiting for your presentation to begin.
These slides need to communicate:
* When the session will begin.
* The Conference Dial-in number.
* A photo, name and title of the presenter.
* What the audience is going to learn.
* What to do in case of problems.
You may also have quotes about the content they will be learning.
Be More Visual in Your Presentation
Be creative. Think Hollywood! Tell stories and give examples as you go through your program, the same way you would in person. However, your Webinar needs more visuals to help engage the audience. Use more slides than with an in-person presentation. Add bullet points one at a time as you “build.” Don’t present a list of all your points before you discuss them. Keep it simple, keep it moving, and interact often.
Plan Your Structure
Outline your presentation on paper or flip chart and then build the PowerPoint®. You have to get “messy” before you get tidy! It is better to have fewer points and illustrate them well.
Be sure you:
* Introduce your objective.
* Sell the benefits.
* Explain the Agenda and timing of your session.
* Add any logistics and how they will interact with you.
Open with a Grabber Slide and Comment
After your grabber slide, it is up to you to engage your audience immediately with a powerful, relevant opening that includes the word “you.” Your grabber opening might be:
A catchy FACT: “It may interest you to know Ferraris hold their value more than polo ponies! I first learned this lesson when…”
A startling STATISTIC: “Did you know that if you had spent a million dollars a day, every day since Jesus was born, you would not have spent a trillion dollars. Please keep that in mind as we strategize how to increase sales by only 5%…”
An intriguing CHALLENGE: “Ten years ago we were the market leaders. This year we are 13th. You are now in an exciting position to turn that around…”
Grabber openings get the attention of your audience. Then it is up to you to keep it. Never start by saying, “Good morning.” Instead, say something like, “Welcome! You are in for a treat! You are about to learn how to…” As you introduce the session, SELL the listeners on how they are going to benefit. Keep them glued. Remember, they can’t see you, so it is all too easy for them to answer their email or go get a cup of coffee.
Once you have sold the session, you can introduce yourself if someone else is not doing it. Do NOT do it first. Just as with an in-person session, say something the listeners care about, and then they care about who you are.
Forge an Emotional Connection
The most powerful communication combines both intellectual and emotional connections. Intellectual means appealing to educated self-interest with data and reasoned arguments. Emotion comes from engaging the listeners’ imaginations, involving them in your illustrative stories by frequent use of the word “you” and from answering their unspoken question, “What’s in this for me?” Use a high I/You ratio.
For example, don’t say, “I’m going to talk to you about Webinars.” Instead, say something like, “In the next 56 minutes, you will learn: the 6 secrets of making a Webinar work; the 4 benefits of using Webinars as part of your client interaction; and the 3 mistakes our competitors are making when they use them.”
Build in Interaction
Depending on the technology you are using, make sure you interact whenever logical. For example, stop and ask, “Based on what you have heard so far, what are your questions?”
Use Memorable Stories
People rarely remember your exact words. Instead, they remember the mental images that your words inspire. Support your key points with vivid, relevant stories. Help them “make the movie” in their heads by using memorable characters, exciting situations, dialogue, and humor. With a combination of your examples and visuals, it will be a memorable presentation.
Use Effective Pauses
Good music and good communication both contain changes of pace, pauses, and full rests. This is where your listeners think about what they have just heard. If you rush on at full speed to crowd in as much information as possible, chances are you’ve left your listeners back at the station. It’s okay to talk quickly, but whenever you say something profound or proactive or ask a rhetorical question, pause.
Avoid Irritating Non-Words
Hmm—ah—er—you know what I mean—. On a Webinar, this habit will only be emphasized. Are you doing it? Why not have a run-through and record yourself. As with in-person presentations, as Michael Caine says, “Rehearsal is the work, performance is the relaxation.”
Review What You’ve Covered
As with an in-person presentation, always review your key ideas: Then say, “Before my closing remarks… what are your questions?”
Emphasize Their Next Steps
Be clear what their next logical steps should be. Send them off energized and focused.
Close on a High
Your last words linger. Make sure they are yours — don’t quote anyone else — and make sure they are powerful.
Have Backup Computers
Here is a practical suggestion that has paid off for me. Have two computers tuned into the Webinar. My Fripp Associate Tom Drews is very experienced with presenting through Webinars. He recommended this technique to Jim Prost and me when we were presenting through Webinar for the American Payroll Association. Suddenly, Jim, who was taking lead, said his computer had frozen. I immediately jumped in and delivered my portion earlier than planned. This gave Jim time to get his second laptop to the place where the first had frozen. He had it tuned into the Webinars, so it only took a few moments. With technology… you never know!
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Patricia Fripp CSP, CPAE is a San Francisco-based executive speech coach and award-winning professional speaker. She is the author of Get What You Want!, Make It, So You Don’t Have to Fake It!, and Past-President of the National Speakers Association. Visit Fripp’s website at http://www.fripp.com