The quality of your presenters is paramount when it comes to planning a successful webinar, whether you’re holding it remotely or it’s being shot in a studio (or both).
Your speakers not only have to be able to present comfortably in an online environment — which is considerably different from hosting a face-to-face event, they also have to be familiar with the technology and platform features, as well as focusing on the right content and delivering it effectively.
Here are three steps to making sure your speakers are properly prepared to make your webinar a success.
1. Identify the most appropriate content
It’s important to make sure your webinar speakers have a thorough understanding of the objectives of your webinar — that way they will have a better idea of what content to focus on.
Are you trying to solve a particular problem? Build brand loyalty? Or launch a new product?
Letting your speakers know exactly what you’re trying to achieve will not only help them choose the most appropriate topics and ideas to concentrate on, but also allow them to frame the content in the most suitable way.
It’s important not only to talk through what they’ll discuss individually, but also to organise a pre-event get-together so they can talk to the moderator and other speakers and understand their respective areas of focus.
This will not only enable you to avoid repetition, but will also help you to establish a narrative throughout your whole event, create the most appropriate segues, and construct your webinar runsheet.
A pre-event run-through will also improve the interpersonal dynamics between speakers during the event.
White papers, research, statistics, product information, surveys and media reports can all be useful sources of content if your presenters aren’t sure where to start.
It’s also important to incorporate visual aids such as graphs, images and video, which reinforce your points and boost engagement.
2. Ensure everyone is on top of the technology
Webinar platforms can differ significantly in features and useability. Even when your speakers have presented webinars before, a quick 15-minute run-through of the platform and slide deck will ensure there are no surprises on the day.
Make sure you cover the basics, including how to:
- Log onto the platform
- Progress slides
- Use the chat feature
- Run a poll or survey
- Share a file or screen
- Play video and other multimedia features.
If you’re planning to host your webinar from a venue or studio, ask your provider about their broadband redundancy to ensure there are no connectivity issues during your event.
Almost two in three (63%) respondents to the 2020 Redback Report said clear audio was their chief concern when it came to attending a webinar, which was almost twice as many (33%) as those who said being able to see presenters was their priority.
If your presenters are connecting remotely, test their local broadband connection at least a week before the event to ensure it can support video. Read our tips for improving your internet connection for more advice on presenting from home.
If you’re not completely convinced their internet connection will be reliable enough to support video on the day, you can avoid those sleepless nights by choosing a hybrid platform. For example, Redback Connect’s 3-in-1 Web, Tele and Video conferencing offers instant, reliable and feature-rich remote meetings where a particular speaker can join via a teleconference but still access features such as real-time file sharing and digital whiteboard collaboration.
3. Sharpen their presenting skills
While it’s imperative that the content of your webinar is relevant to your audience and your objectives, it’s even more important that your speakers deliver it in an effective way.
In fact, three in four (74%) webinar attendees we surveyed for the 2020 Redback Report said passion and good online delivery were essential qualities in a great presenter — which ranked significantly ahead of being knowledgeable about the content itself (22%).
With more people working remotely and more of us attending virtual events than ever before, it’s not surprising that many of us are becoming more discerning when it comes to spending time in webinars and other virtual events.
That’s why it’s more important than ever that your speakers are engaging, stay on topic, maintain an energetic demeanour and interact appropriately.
Teach your speakers to talk directly to the audience via their webcam or studio camera like it’s another person in the room.
If there’s a facilitator, moderator or other speakers in the room, they should roughly spend an equal amount of time looking at them and the camera.
To interact with remote presenters, your speaker should look at the screen to view their facial expressions and body language when listening, and look back at the camera when responding to them.
It’s also important for speakers to use a conversational tone, keep it natural, smile and just be themselves.
Once you’ve lined up all your speakers and your facilitator if you’re using one, we suggest hosting a simple presenter mapping session where you can cover off things like content, technology, platform and features. Our Webinar Planning Spreadsheet provides a good overview of areas to cover.
Your webinar provider should be able to offer your presenters advice on how to improve their delivery, how to interact with the audience and other speakers, and even what to wear.
Encouraging new presenters to rehearse on video prior to the event and watch it back is a good tip.
For complex events, a dry-run on the platform using all the elements you plan to use in the live event is essential.
When it comes to the presentation of the content itself, work with your speaker on their slides to make sure they’re easy to read and engaging. We often recommend:
- Keeping text to a minimum
- Including one major image per page
- Demonstrating key points
- Talk to your slides but don’t repeat exactly what’s on them.
Investing a little time to properly prepare your speakers for a webinar or other online event will not only increase their own confidence, it will also be one less thing you’ll have to worry about as you prepare to switch on the camera.
For more tips, check out episode #1 of our online TV show, Webinars & Wine, in which we talk about the 10 steps to planning the perfect webinar.