Over the years, I have done a lot of seminars, workshops, and talks – both virtually and in-person. The main challenge in virtual presentations is that your audience can’t see you and vice versa. It can be tricky to capture their attention or get them engaged by merely hearing your voice and seeing your slides. How do you turn your presentation into a provocative, engaging, and highly impact virtual experience for your learners?
In my previous blogs, I’ve shared numerous dos when designing and delivering successful webinars. Now, I give you the big don’ts.
Don’t skip the prep
In any endeavor, be it mountain climbing, joining a triathlon, performing on stage, or doing a virtual presentation, preparation is the key to its success. It was Confucius who said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such effort there is sure to be failure.” Test and prepare your resource materials. Conduct a technical dry-run of your tools in advance. Rehearse your presentation flow. Be prepared with back-up plans for any possible glitches. Have a checklist and follow it religiously. Trust me, your audience don’t need to see you to know if you’ve come unprepared. The instant they realize that, nothing you say would interest them anymore.
Don’t drag with facts
I have learned, from my experience in doing webinars, that you immediately lose your audience’s attention the moment you start your presentation with facts. Nothing is enticing nor motivating about going through a litany of learning objectives, or stating compliance policies, or showing a bunch of technical data. I find using real-life situations and weaving stories into content to be highly effective in engaging the participants.
Don’t force engagement
Connection with your audience has to happen naturally and seamlessly. You can’t force it or overdo it, lest you come off as inauthentic or insincere. Share relatable stories that trigger conversations. Pitch thought-provoking and relevant questions then allow your audience to reflect and share their thoughts and experiences.
Information overload is the bane of any audience. Webinars, generally, run an hour. Make it count for your audience by cutting down ideas to the “bare essentials.” Avoid dumping unnecessary data. Make a personal commitment to NOT lecture in webinars. Capture your audience’s attention by providing ideas that are timely, highly contextual and relevant. Focus on the crucial topic and take control of the flow.
Don’t forget your audience
One key essential to a successful presentation is high audience interaction. As I’ve mentioned earlier, not being able to see each other is a challenge in webinars. How do you ensure that while you’re presenting and showing them your slides, that they are not busy doing something else? Ask your audience reflection questions and throw in intriguing ideas. Encourage them to respond and share their insights to sustain engagement. Veer away from providing definitive answers that do nothing to stimulate their thinking and curiosity.
To be successful at webinar presentations, it takes preparation, dedication, creativity, sincerity, and hard work. Not everyone is born with great presentation skills but it can definitely be learned. Study your topics, practice, and always involve your audience. Reflect on these thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think. Post your comments below.
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Ray Jimenez, PhD
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”