Presenting in front of a live audience under any circumstances can be daunting for many of us. Even presenting virtually, when there’s no one else in the room, can spark anxiety.
Now, delivering presentations online has become a necessary skill for many of us.
So how do you keep an online audience engrossed until the end of your presentation? It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are 6 steps that will have you presenting like a pro.
1. Host an online presenter mapping session to plan your digital event
One of the most important facets of being an effective presenter is to be confident and relaxed. And one of the best ways to do that? Be prepared.
Once you’ve lined up all your speakers and your moderator if you’re using one, try hosting a simple presenter mapping session where you can cover off things like content, technology, platform and features.
It’s a good idea to do it online and ask everyone involved to join. It’s a good opportunity to introduce your speakers and moderator to each other before the event to help them develop a rapport, and gain an understanding of what their fellow presenters will be speaking about.
Your mapping session should include going over technology such as internet connections, and any issues around VPNs or firewalls, and clarifying who will be using video.
It’s also a good opportunity to go through the agenda, develop a run sheet, and remind presenters how long they should speak.
For complex events, a dry-run using all the elements you plan to use in the live event is essential.
Tip: Download our WIP Webinar Planning Spreadsheet
2. Train your presenters in virtual presentation techniques
One of the hardest things about presenting to a virtual audience (especially when you’re working alone remotely) is that, essentially, you’re talking to a camera. You’re not catching the eye of an audience member, pacing a stage, or hearing a chuckle from the crowd as you crack your best joke.
Now put yourself in the shoes of your audience. They’re probably sitting alone, or trying to block out distractions, watching a screen, listening to you and trying to follow along with your presentation.
So what’s the number one thing that we’ve found most audience members want to see in their presenters? Passion. That’s because people need to feel a connection with the person they’re listening to, otherwise it’s likely they’re not really listening at all.
Passion beats technique. It’s about speaking with conviction and enthusiasm, because that fosters strong connections and collaborative discussions. And it’s what makes a presenter great, rather than average.
It’s also important to keep it natural, smile and be the most engaging version of yourself. Talk directly to the audience via your camera and don’t neglect to look at the moderator or other speakers.
- Encourage new presenters to rehearse on video prior to the event and watch it back to spot any weaknesses in their own presenting style.
- Ask your webinar service provider for advice on how to improve their delivery.
- Use a moderator so your presenters can focus on their content and delivery.
3. Train your presenter on using the webinar platform well ahead of the event
Webinar platforms can differ significantly in features and useability. So it’s always important to have a quick run through the platform, slide deck and other elements of a presentation to make sure your event runs smoothly on the day.
Here are some of the key points which should be covered in training:
- The Platform
Make sure you spend some time going over the basics of the webinar platform with your presenters, and cover things like:
- Logging into the platform
- How to progress slides
- Using the chat feature.
- The Presentation
It pays to work with each presenter on their slides to make sure they’re easy to read and engaging, and stick to the topic area. We suggest:
- Keeping text to a minimum
- One major image per page
- Demonstrating key points.
- Interactive Features
Make sure your presenter is across the interactive tools available within the platform, as well as best practices, including:
- Chat features
- Polling and surveys
- Multimedia features
- Invite your audience to interact early and often.
4. Connectivity check
If you’re planning to host your event from a venue or studio, ask your video conferencing provider about their broadband redundancy to ensure there are no connectivity issues during your event.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents to the 2020 Redback Report said quality audio was the most important element when it came to an enjoyable virtual event. In comparison, the ability to see speakers via video was ranked second (33%).
If your presenters will be connecting remotely, test their local broadband connection during your presenter mapping session (or at least a week before the event) to ensure it can support video.
If it’s not up to scratch, consider an audio presentation or a hybrid option like Redback Connect’s 3-in-1 Web, Tele and Video conferencing which 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.
5. Variety is the spice of life
While it’s important that you stay on topic and your presentation forms part of the overall narrative, it doesn’t hurt to change things up a bit.
Cross live to a remote special guest or play pre-recorded video, and make sure your slides don’t all look the same.
Incorporate graphs and high-level statistics that reinforce your point and provide a visual aid to increase engagement.
Features like Q&A sessions, polling, and utilising the open and private chat features, are also an easy way to boost engagement and interaction.
6. Don’t forget to end with a call to action: what do you want your audience to do?
When you’ve got a captive audience watching your webinar, it’s crucial to make the most of it.
The key is to make sure everyone leaves in a positive state of mind, feels like they have learned something, and takes something away from the event (such as a downloadable resource).
Include an end slide to your online presentation highlighting the key features of your presentation and the solution you’ve presented.
Definitely include something for your audience to take away such as free access to gated content, exclusive research, statistics, or a list of relevant sources or references.
And when it comes to your call to action, it’s crucial to focus on the next step you want your audience to take. Make it clear but specific. Consider creating urgency with an expiring offer that motivates the audience to take action.
Put these tips into action and you’ll be presenting like a pro in next to no time.