You may have been a part of a number of web-based presentations throughout your career, either as the presenter or as an attendee. Some contained information that dried up and withered away while others caught your attention and became a tree containing branches of knowledge, firmly rooted and planted in your mind. Let's look at how to do the latter!
And this starts with examining one of the number one concerns I hear from webinar presenters: They worry they are not connecting with the audience, asking questions such as "How do I know they’re interested, that they’re tuned in if I can’t see their faces, if I can’t see the nod of their heads?"
Great public speakers approach their presentations - online and otherwise - with this frame of mind: ...
"It is not about me, it is about how can I best cater to, elevate, excite, intrigue my audience." Once you get comfortable with shining the spotlight on the audience and accept it's all about your listeners and not you, then much of your anxiety will dissipate.
Remember you are not in the hot seat; rather you are passionate about your message, the message you unequivocally know everyone needs to hear. Take yourself out of the equation, and adopt a new mindset. Silently tell yourself time and time again "It's not about me. It's about the value I will give in this webinar that will make a difference in my listeners' lives."
Second, share with the audience how you will handle questions. (And check out this post for how to handle difficult audience questions!) Will you take questions throughout the webinar, at certain points in the presentation, or at the very end? The audience needs to know this so everyone is not sitting, wondering when or if there will be a Q&A segment. And regardless of the option you choose, ensure you pace yourself and end the session on time as doing so shows respect to the audience.
Third, enlist the assistance of a moderator. He/she can be there to handle all of the technical aspects of the webinar while you focus on presenting, and if you plan ahead, you can provide him/her with questions or interjects to offer so you can have brief conversations with him/her and lessen the impression of feeling like you are talking to no one.
Next, watch other presentations/webinars/teleseminars. Find ones you think are really good - not just "good," but REALLY good - then figure out WHY you thought it was so good. Was it the language? The speaker's tone and inflection? Great graphics? Animations? The types of questions asked? A unique use of interactive webinar tools such as the whiteboard, chat, or polling? Pick out what you like and use those components in your own webinars.
Finally, practice. Present as many webinars as you can. Or if that is not an option, then try taking a public speaking class, volunteer to speak at events in your community or within your organizational circles, join a local Toastmasters International chapter, turn your phone and face-to-face conversations into performances … paying attention to and altering your pitch, tone, pace, and nonverbal communication. Spend as much time as possible consciously working to use the power of your voice and gestures to effectively express your points to others.
Do you have additional tips? Spend 15 seconds to think of what you might add to the list, and post a comment!