The change in working conditions means we are now connecting digitally more than ever. Seminars and events are being replaced with digital equivalents, and for many this is the first time they’ve hosted or presented sessions in this way. Here’s some practical tips I’ve learned over the years to make your webinar more effective.
- Make sure people know who you are. It’s essential that you give people some visual context as to who their listening to, especially if working with a panel session. When you’re speaking, all the audience will see is someone sitting at a desk, dining table or sofa with none of the usual cues as to who they are and what their role is. Either share a slide with your details, or work on a physical or virtual background that makes it clear who you are.
- Send out a pre-read. At the very least this should include a running order and bio of people presenting. As soon as any intro slides have been presented they’re gone forever. If someone missed the details they’ll be at sea for the rest of the session.
- People will be distracted – and that’s okay. Your audience are working in an environment with a pile of distractions beyond their control. This could be children, pets, partners, flatmates or the Amazon delivery guy ringing the doorbell. They will miss some details and intros, so make it easy for them to jump back in. See 1 & 2 above!
- Stick to time. This might be one of the basics, but it matters now more than ever. Your audience members could be co-ordinating precious bandwidth or quiet space with their housemates. Respect that, and ask any panel speakers to do the same.
- Rehearse. Check out sound & video, bandwidth capabilities and the software long before go-time. Think about how you will present slides. Will you have one person clicking through, or will you each share slides for your own desktop?
- Have a facilitator or chairman. Have someone help you take care of the logistics and practicalities of the session. Checking who’s online, answering any questions, managing timing and maybe managing slide presentation. This frees you up to focus on the content.
- Start well. Share your rules of engagement, advise people how they can interact, where, when & how to ask questions, and what you can see and hear of them. You’d be surprised how many people might not realise if they’re being viewed on camera or whether their audio is being broadcast.
And finally, enjoy this great new way of working. It’s released us from the artificial formality that can come with these kind of sessions, and gives a great opportunity to get to know people in their authentic environment. Enjoy the diversity, and keep talking.