For anyone about to present a webinar for the first time, the online experience can be just as nerve-wracking as its offline counterpart of physical presentations in a room filled with strangers. In an infographic from AD:60 on webinar statistics, most companies tend to run one or more webinars each month, with the average webinar featuring 28 participants, 2 presenters, and a run time of 65 minutes in place. But in the event that a presenter decides to pull out of the webinar at the last minute and leave you flying solo, leading a webinar over an hour long that keeps everyone talking after can suddenly seem more daunting than it initially appeared to be. Don't sweat the small stuff and take my tried and true tips into consideration when it comes to webinar success!
1) Start on Time
While you can't always predict whether or not the webinar itself will start off without any glitches, you need to be ready to go at the scheduled time. Waiting around on a website to get going is slightly easier for participants to understand than having the presenter be tardy to the party - especially if this is a webinar that was paid for!
2) Keep Your Desktop Tabs Closed
GoToWebinar, one of my favorite sites to set up and work presenting webinars from, brought up the point that if you're sharing your desktop as a presenter, you might want to close down any unprofessionally related tabs and media applications. It's never a good thing to hear a song playing and wonder which one of your tabs it's coming from... only to find out it's the presenter's tab that's playing and they're completely unaware of it.
3) Use Good Slides
Keep your slides simple and to the point - you can elaborate more off-camera on each point and provide emailed copies afterward to viewers of both the simple slides and a more detailed slide presentation as well. Add visuals whenever possible too and aim for relevance as well as the ability to break the ice with by using a creative meme or GIF to describe a topic you're discussing.
4) Pace Yourself When Speaking
Speak clearly, loudly, and choose your words carefully as you would giving a public presentation.
5) Practice Beforehand
In the event that it looks like you have too many slides and need to practice what you're going to say, rehearse everything out beforehand and time yourself along the way in order to stay paced and not rushed.
6) Show Enthusiasm!
Some webinars don't feature video usage so there's a good chances listeners won't be able to see you. Whether they see you or not, show enthusiasm in your voice to draw listeners in. Welcome participants, thank them for taking the time to join the webinar, and discuss a little about yourself and your experience before diving into the slides.
7) Be Ready to Skip Sticking to a Script
You can't plan everything that might happen during a webinar and you may often need to improvise on the spot with a real world example or experience that you learned from. Be ready for those moments and don't try to avoid them if they happen.
8) Leave Plenty of Time for Q&A
With webinars I recommend the 50/50 approach - half speaking and slideshows and the last half hour devoted to questions and comments. Mention this early on in the webinar so the audience can get a feel for how long the discussion will last and can begin jotting down questions to ask afterward. While it can take awhile to get people to break the ice and begin asking questions, once it starts it tends to snowball. Not stopping with enough time for a break can lead to the webinar going over which may not bode well for the schedules of those attending.
9) Include Your Twitter Handle and Facebook Page
Good practice for both the beginning and end of your webinar! If you have a prominent social media presence, you'll want listeners to be able to tweet you during the webinar and afterward to keep the discussion flowing and keep up with you for future notice.
10) End with a Call to Action
This is a tip that seemingly ends every article on successful webinars out there - consider it your turn to give over some light homework to the audience and suggested reading materials and site links on where they can find out more about what you discussed today. No webinar should end with the audience saying, "Well, that was only okay," and going about their day afterward. It's always nice to end things on a bright note, but don't be afraid to encourage those listening to stay hungry after the webinar is over and reach out to you. Chances are you'll probably do another webinar after that and having gotten a taste of what you're all about, the crowd will follow you there and continue to grow if they like what they hear!
(image: webinar guidelines/shutterstock)