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Presenting Virtually

Tips for Presenting VirtuallyWebinar Planning

 

  1. Know Your Material: Present with passion and confidence. If you aren’t passionate about your material, your audience will quickly pick up on it and tune you out or turn to multitasking at their computers.

  2. Open With a Grabber - Then Engage Your Audience: Open with a visual or anecdote that will grab the audience’s attention. After that, use a hook to engage the audience immediately - include words like "you.” For example: "It might interest you to know…" and "Did you know…" Or, engage the audience with a challenge. For example: "Five years ago employment lawsuits were only half of what they are now. Each of you now has the opportunity to change that!" A strong opening can grab the audience's attention and give you the opportunity to hold it. It's more effective to start with "Welcome! We're in for a treat today! We're about to learn…" rather than "Good morning, today I am going to…" As you introduce the session, inform your audience how they are going to benefit by sticking with you for the duration of the presentation. Keep them wanting more, remember, they can't see you and it's all too easy for them to answer emails or go get a cup of coffee.

  3. Introduce Yourself Second: Once you've SOLD the session, you can introduce yourself (unless someone else will be introducing you). Do not introduce yourself first. You'll need to say something the listeners care about before they will care who you are.

  4. Create an Emotional Connection: People communicate most effectively by a combination of both intellectual and emotional connections. Intellectual communications appeals to one's educated self-interest with data and reasoned arguments. Emotional communication involves a person's imagination - and answers the unspoken question, "What's in it for me?" Using the word "you" as opposed to "I" affects the emotional aspect. Rather than saying "In the next hour, I am going to talk about…" A more effective approach will be "In the next hour, you will learn/you will gain…"

  5. Build-in and Use Interaction: Locate appropriate places in your presentation to pause and engage the audience. "Based on what we just covered, what questions or comments do you have?" Encourage them to ask questions and if appropriate, share their own stories and anecdotes. Put real challenge out to your audience - tell them up front "I may call on participants at any time to ..." Include polls or surveys where appropriate and introduce them as they are opened for audience participation. Pose quick questions and ask the audience to use the feedback tools or icons to show their response.    While conducting a poll or survey, keep the audience engaged by talking through the poll options, or tell a related story. When the poll is closed, share the overall results with the audience - do not share individual responses, this can backfire and inhibit participants from returning to future events. If appropriate, relate the poll results to others - perhaps national polls for comparison - then quickly move on.

  6. Reference and Use/Share Additional Resources: Share additional documents or web pages that support your content or direct your audience to act after the event. Showing them where they can find a great website for specific resources is a good use of the technology and encourages them to continue their interest and further their knowledge.

  7. Keep it Moving: Studies show that motion or frequent transitions are more effective than static page content. Build in text, slide and/or image transitions on your slides so there are changes every 30-60 seconds - this will help keep the audience's attention on your presentation.

  8. Avoid the Chat Feature: You want the audience engaged with you and the presentation, not each other. Allowing for audience Q & A is a benefit, but allowing the audience to chat amongst themselves provides another avenue for misdirected attention. Depending on the presentation or training event format, there may be reason and opportunity for breakout sessions where participants are encouraged to collaborate with one and another, but in general, keep the focus on the presenter and audience interaction only.

  9. Avoid Filler Words: Avoid phrases such as "Hmm, ah, er, OK, umm," and "you know." In a webinar, these words are even more prominent than in person. Practicing your session out loud will help you catch these faux pas. Listen to your moderator/host during your practice(s) - they will do their best to be kind, but honest about items that will negatively, or positively impact the presentation.

  10. Before Closing, Do a Summary Review and Open the Virtual Floor for Questions: Just like an in-person presentation, always review your key ideas with the webinar audience before closing. Then ask, "Are there any questions before my closing comments?" Remind them how they can interact by raising their hand or typing into the Q &A box. If possible, have a "ringer" - someone who has a few canned questions - to ask the first question and break the ice.

  11. At Wrap up - Suggest Next Steps: Emphasize what the audience should do once the webinar is over. Be clear what their next logical steps should be. Send them off energized, focused, and ready to do something. Be sure to invite them to the next event!

  12. End on a High Note: Your last words will linger. Make sure they are your own - and make sure they are powerful.