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Public speaking is no longer about physically being present to speak to your audience. Webinars have the potential to spread your public speaking influence far and wide, provided that you actually engage your webinar audience. Learn the art of the webinar!
Imagine sitting at your desk back at school. Your friend is helping you study for a calculus exam—except she is speaking from behind a podium, projecting into a microphone, looking past you, and talking to an imaginary crowd. This is the experience many people have while listening to webinars. We're at our desks attempting to learn and the voice coming over the webinar platform isn't even talking to you. Worse yet, you can't even see their face, only slides showing information in a power point-ish way.
Snore. Snooze. Snort... wait whut? What did you say? Calculus? You lost me at hello. In our previous post How to be brilliant at public speaking on the web we discussed how to present yourself on the interweb. Here you'll find how to engage with your audience through webinars... without putting them to sleep.
The reason we feel this way, snooze-ish, is because webinar speakers typically make the mistake of speaking to the computer, rather than to the people and personalities who are listening in on the other side. We get overly formal and forget what really connects to the people the other side of the webinar platform: humour, personality and fun.
It's intimidating to think that your webinar is broadcasting to potentially tens or hundreds of blank faces across the internet. So remember that you're talking to attendees who, for the most part, are listening alone at their desks. While a webinar may have 50-200 attendees listening, you're really having 50-200 one-on-one conversations. Remember that and imagine you're speaking to one close friend or colleague.
An audience's average attention span is about 10 minutes. Worse if you're competing for their attention with the email inbox, nearby colleagues and 'ooh I'll just google this' as most webinar speakers are. Just you talking generally won't be enough to keep them focused on you, no matter how interesting you think you are.
To hold the attention of your webinar audience, it's important that you keep them engaged through creative use of the webinar platform. In my webinars I use a combination of interactive questions, interactive polls, hand drawn Ginger images and mini tasks or challenges to keep my audience involved. And of course, you can also ask them to switch off their inbox and focus on you for the length of your webinar too.
Webinar strategy, philosophy, and bullet-point best practices may provide a professional looking webinar, but rarely inspire. Interactivity, stories and heart provide the juicy webinar material people remember. In fact, all things we're mad about in the Ginger public speaking world also apply to webinar public speaking...The secret to engaging an audience The Six Qualities of an Inspiring Speaker A good speech is like telling a story.
Be yourself on webinar; let your audience into your life and your personality. Be authentic - and you'll keep them hooked.
At the same time, there are some webinar specifics that will help you wow your audience:
Remember that people want to learn something at your webinar. They want to leave with specific actions they can take to improve their performance. They want to click off their screen feeling excited and exuberant and ready to implement all that you've shared with them. Leave your audience with some very practical takeaways that reward them for their time spent with you - even if it's a free webinar.
And don't forget to give them an action point at the end, especially if you're hoping to sell something from the webinar.
All in all, public speaking in person and online aren't that awful different. It's about presenting, perhaps in a bit more organized, structured way, but the message stays the same. Use these little tweaks and tips and you'll soon be presenting webinars like the pro that you are... Ginger style!
Curious about your current public speaking level? Take the Ginger self assessment quiz to learn about your strengths and weaknesses in 6 key areas of public speaking.Take the Self Assessment