HR & Management

Improve your webinar presentation with 5 easy tips

7 min read

30 September 2014

Webinars have changed the way managers do things for many businesses. A webinar can be used in many different ways including remote interviews, online workshops, real-time lectures and company updates. In some ways the webinar has become the darling of the digital business tools.

While it’s obvious why it’s useful, it’s not always used in the best way. So what are the problems and how do you get the most out of a webinar? 

The webinar makes sense to a business. It saves transport time and money, booking out large premises and it’s a measured way to communicate – with a variety of options on how to do this from a multicast to a point-point interaction. It can be recorded and saved and reused. It is simply – a very handy medium. With 95 per cent of video content retained by viewers as opposed to ten per cent by text, webinars are seen as a great way for getting messages across to audiences effectively – especially for e-learning for instance. 

As wonderful as the digital capabilities and logistical benefits are, there is one thing that might ruin the webinar in practice and that is too often, unfortunately, the presenter. Many directors and managers presume they will simply sit in a chair and get it right first time but presenting for webinars is a real art form in itself. The human component is as usual – the most important factor for a webinar to be effective and if it is done badly – the usefulness of the webinar disintegrates with the bungled delivery. 

“Business leaders are often used to talking to an audience of people in front of them, one that they can see. They can gauge response – get feedback and cues whilst talking so it is a different experience. Presenting to camera for a webinar can be an alien experience for them and throw them off guard if they are not used to it or adapt to it. That’s precisely why we started a Virtual Leadership Presentation Skills programme. It seemed like it would be a useful training course for directors and managers,” said David Hunstone, director of London based webinar production company, Bombora.tv.

There are several considerations you need to plan for, to ensure a good presentation on a webinar ranging from what you intend to wear for the session to how you deal with nerves, questions, body language and the way you structure your material. Autocues can be used which need a practice and the patter of the interaction if there are opportunities for this, needs to be understood to work on screen. 

1. Be concise

If your audience knows you can’t see them in the same way as if you are in a lecture theatre they have opportunities to be distracted – emails, people in the room, coffee rounds or even a television in the background. Try to hold their attention by making comments count – less waffle, more action points. Use small but powerful nuggets of information. Try not to drift off point. Rehearse your presentation to see if it is effective.

2. Be aware of the visual message

Have awareness of your dress code and what it says. Similarly look carefully at your background or studio. How much of you needs to be on camera? Head and shoulders shots can work for instance, or if there is more than one presenter – both sitting at a desk. Get advice and /or hire a professional studio or production company if you can. If you are using slides, ask yourself if they can be more visually effective with graphics and imagery. Sometimes less is more – a slide with a single phrase, quotation, image or piece of advice can illustrate your point in a way it can be remembered.

3. Project yourself

The art of delivering an interesting presentation is largely about your voice. Talk from the chest, be efficient in your sentences, don’t hunch over and do try to project confidence. Sometimes, pause for effect – a little silence can underline what you have said. Summarise sections of your presentation in three points if possible – for instance, ‘a presentation should be punchy, powerful and perfectly timed.’ People often notice the way you are presenting as much or even more than the words. For this reason, to be believed, trusted and an authority you need to convey this in your tone and pitch of voice and in the delivery of your message.

4. Be mindful of your body language

If you fold your arms you are being defensive and if you present your wrists you are ‘openly’ communicating for instance. If you pat the back of your head you are being submissive but if you link your hands and have your arms wide behind your head you are being dominant. Politicians have a trick of pointing at things or people without their index finger extended (in a closed fist with thumb pointing) as this is seen as less rude. You should look at the camera, sit up straight and use your hands to a degree to articulate your message with enthusiasm – making sure that you are not being defensive or arrogant in gestures. A bonus of cultivating positive body language is that you become aware of it yourself and it makes you feel more confident as you deliver the presentation.

5. Give opportunity for feedback

If possible – have a Q&A session at the end and make sure that the questions are answered to satisfaction before moving on whilst allowing time for a few questions from different people. For questions not answered leave an email contact if you need to wrap up the session. 

This article was written by Richard Forsyth at Varn Media, a website design and SEO company.