When you think about engaging online content, what do you think of first? Do you think of webinars hosted by professional services firms? Sadly, probably not. More likely you think about professional presenters, actors from your favourite show, or a funny video that you watched on YouTube. When you think about how to pack a punch on a webinar, a good place to turn to for inspiration is exactly those places where you are engaged.
What is it about those performances that engages and inspires you? What can you bring from those into your webinars? The leap from one to the other might seem vast, but there are tips and tricks that we can draw from the performing arts to make our online content both relevant and engaging.
Tip 1: frame
Think of your frame. Or, in other words, how you appear onscreen. Many people place their computers on their desk or sofa, without much thought of angles or framing. To avoid a “camera up nose shot”, think about placing your equipment so that you nose is in line with your camera. Ideally, think about capturing just your face and shoulders. This puts the focus firmly on you and will mean that the audience will feel that you are looking directly at them. Think 10 O'Clock News.
Tip 2: warm up
All professional actors will warm up before a performance. To make sure that you hit the ground running, do some vocal warm-ups (this could be as simple as reciting a tongue twister) so that you are engaging people right from the get-go. This is particularly important on a webinar. In person the audience will stay to see you ease into the presentation. On a webinar the audience can talk with their feet and switch off before you are in full flow.
Tip 3: engage your audience
There is a tendency with webinars for the host to deliver content with little or no interaction with the audience. Most webinar programmes have a chat function, some go further and allow for polls and ongoing feedback. It is easy to forget that you even have an audience on a webinar! In order to keep your audience engaged, make sure that you interact with them regularly – think every 10 minutes – to make sure that they stay focused and energised by your content.
Tip 4: be careful with slides
Slides are tricky at the best of times, particularly when the content is technical, and you want to try and impart a lot of knowledge in a short space of time. With webinars the temptation to have them onscreen as a ready-made script is high. Beware though, reading from slides is the fastest way to turn off your audience. Think of slides like an actor does his stage. Use them only as a set (something to put you into context for your audience. Is your backdrop a tidy bookshelf, office, or perhaps a virtual backdrop), prop (maybe showing a picture) or character (perhaps a quote from someone).
Think, what are my slides adding to my performance. Who is upstaging who? If your slides are upstaging you, then it’s time to think again about what to include.
So, who do you put in front of the camera?
A problem for marketing teams is often that the expert in the field might not want to be put in front of an audience. Now, with training and/or coaching, anyone can pack a punch in front of an audience. Client Talk are experts at coaching presenters through nerves or other limiting beliefs that might get in the way. However, if that isn’t an option for you now, who do you put in front of the camera?
Who shines in virtual video conferences? It might not be the first person who comes to mind for the subject. Maybe you have an associate or a trainee who is a natural presenter. Webinars can (and some argue should) be scripted. The person delivering the content does not have to be the subject matter lead.
Who can you pair up?
Webinars are often best done in twos. This breaks up the presentation and keeps them interesting. But, in the current climate, they can also offer a safety net if one of the presenter’s technology fails.
Can you change the format?
Maybe engaging the subject matter expert in a conversation is more natural to that professional and will lend itself to a more engaging webinar. As we have said, a webinar should not just be someone reading slides. Could you collaborate with clients or other referrers to bring in additional learning and make the webinar even more relevant to your audience?
Invest in training
The best way to pack a punch on a webinar is to practice. Make sure that your webinar hit squad know the basics of delivering a good webinar. Encourage them to practice and record themselves. They can then look for areas to improve before they go live.