How do you speak to an audience you can't see? The same way you speak to a regular audience, but with a few minor adjustments. Know your technology, engage your audience, and practice these public speaking tips for webinars.
A webinar is conducted online, so the host typically cannot see the audience. Some people might actually be more comfortable with this setup, but it also means a webinar speaker can’t get visual feedback from their audience. Regardless, webinars have many interesting features. Hosts can broadcast themselves speaking, invite a guest onto the show, or switch to show their computer screens if they have a slide show or demonstration.
Webinars can be used in many different ways. There are lecture webinars, educational webinars, and promotional webinars. The host can decide how they want to present their webinar and should always plan in advance what they want to talk to about. If you want to learn something about a particular topic of interest, webinars are one of the best ways to expand your knowledge by learning directly from the experts.
Why do you need public speaking tips for webinars, anyway?
The way you speak during a seminar is important because you need to capture and hold the attention of the audience for the duration. Your audience may be watching you from all over the world. Not everyone is well-versed in public speaking. It's a skillset that can be taught and learned, so don't hesitate to sign up for classes if you plan on doing more webinars in the future.
In the meantime, here are some public speaking tips for webinars:
1. Know The Technology
Since webinars are all online, it’s important to make sure you know how to use the software. Before the event begins, make some trial calls to ensure your microphone and camera are still on. If you have a slide demonstration, practice switching from your face to the slides.
Choose software that works best for your purposes. There are many types of webinar software available, but most should offer you a free trial.
2. Audience Contact
This is tricky for webinars. You cannot see your audience, all you can see is yourself on the computer screen. Make sure you look into the camera. It is okay to look down at your notes but remember: Your audience is watching and visual contact is important to keep them engaged.
If you prefer, you can include a chat feature in your webinar so that your audience can provide feedback. This is an excellent tool for Q and A sessions. If you use this feature, designate a separate team member to act as a moderator. They will write down the best questions for you to answer when the time comes. When answering questions, answer them as if they are being asked to you orally.
3. Principal Ideas
Decide what you want your audience to get out of this webinar. Remember to really explain your principal ideas and repeat them so your audience will remember these. A good way to determine these ideas beforehand is to set goals for your webinar. What actions do you want your audience to take once the webinar is over? What do you want them to have learned?
4. Add Visual Aids
A good visual aid should help emphasize your thoughts, not just repeat them. Bulleted lists, pictures, and organized charts are some ideas that can help your audience remember the main points of your webinar. You can also use these tools as springboards for new conversations or, a the very least, as a sort of cheat sheet if you’re getting lost.
When emphasizing points, pausing can be used both before and after the main point is said. Pausing will keep the host from rambling on about the subject and allow the host to gather his or her thoughts and take a deep breath. This is also helpful for the audience, they will have time to comprehend the speaker and finish their notes.
One of the most important public speaking tips for webinars is to speak slowly. Remember that many in your audience may be listening on a computer, which means the audio quality won’t be ideal for everyone. Speaking slowly also helps your topics sink in more effectively and keeps you from sounding like you’re rambling.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Sometimes our anxiety can build up and we forget how to pronounce a word or we lose our train of thought. If you practice a lot before you go live, it will help you nail the big parts! Running through your webinar lecture can help ensure that you are ready. And don't forget to practice these other public speaking tips for webinars.
Expect at least a few hiccups, however. Be prepared for them. Don't’ let technical difficulties run you off the rails. If you misspeak or accidentally skip one of your points, don’t make a show of it. Sometimes it’s best to just keep going.