These days, public speakers are turning to webinars in place of in-person presentations. And why not? That technology is cheaper and more convenient than traveling on-site to give presentations. That said, because of the format, you risk losing your audience’s attention more quickly than in an in-person presentation. People aren’t likely to be rude to your face, but if they are joining in from another location, there’s not much keeping them from checking their email, working on assignments—or even dozing off.
Follow these tips to make your next webinar presentation an engaging one:
- Personalize the experience. Seventy-two hours prior to the webinar send a personal email reminder to each attendee and include any handouts. Ask them to send you their questions at least 24 hours prior to the event. That way you can ensure that you answer all of their questions during your presentation. The morning of the webinar, send them a short, friendly message like “Looking forward to connecting with you during the webinar today!” that will serve as a gentle reminder.
- Don’t send your presentation slides beforehand. If attendees have the slides, they may not have a reason to listen to you. Instead, create a worksheet, using a combination of fill-in-the-blank, multiple-choice and essay questions that they can use to follow along and take notes. That ensures that they are actively listening and homing in on your key points.
- Answer questions throughout your presentation. Rather than save the Q&A for the end of the presentation, offer attendees the opportunity to ask questions during your presentation. Every 10 minutes or so, ask attendees if they have questions so far. Immediately answer those questions. If the answer will come later in the presentation, let them know that. For off-topic questions, say that you aren’t discussing that topic today but that you will respond in an email following the webinar.
- Ask attendees questions. Poll the group or call out attendees by names (you should compile and print that list prior to the webinar). Aim to integrate a question to the audience every 4-5 slides. People will stay focused on the presentation because they don’t want to get caught not paying attention.
—Adapted from “4 Tips for Hosting an Engaging Webinar Strategy,” Tiffani Frey, Business 2 Community, http://www.business2community.com.