As the webinar trend started to spread over my actual workplace, I was not really enthusiastic about it. A clear benefit consists in saving time and money spent on travels. But I was afraid it would not be that effective to really connect to the audience. In the meantime I have been conducting dozens of webinars and always been enjoying it. I share my best practices in this post.
#1 Choose the right webinar’s outfit
You have to keep in mind that you’ll be in front of a camera. Users will probably only see the top of your body but that’s no reason to wear something too casual on the bottom. It’s like for job interviews by phone : you should dress as for an face to face interview because your outfit is definitly influencing your mindset. You feel more professionnal in a suit, so wear a suit. The advantage is that your colleagues will notice that you have something special on yourschedule at that day. You’ll may be able to avoid to get stressed just before your webinar. I always choose a very classical outfit. I use black eye liner and mascara to intensify my look and I try to keep my face from looking shiny (blot powder, blotting papers).
One additional tip: you should avoid stripes, prints, dots … because it tends to strobe on camera. For more tips on what to wear on camera you can check out this great article.
#2 Make a good first impression
The first five minutes of the webinar are really important. You should connect on time and welcome the participants that are already connected in the virtual room. Then announce that you will wait 5 additional minutes for people that may come a little bit too late. Use the time to ask the first present people who they are, what is their business and why they registrate for your webinar. Take notice of these informations because you may use them later in the presentation to add a personal touch. If you give a legal webinar, maybe there is an exceptional rule for a particular business and you can say: « I would like to underline this very one point for Mr X. This rule does not apply to your business XY« . So every participant get the feeling you’re giving a presentation just for them and not that you just are just doing your standard thing. That’s even easier to add this personal touch on a webinar as in real life, where you do not know the names of the people in front of you. Before entering the virtual room each participant will usually have to enter a name. You can adress people by their names : « Mr X, did I answer your question or do you need more information?«
#3 Look at your audience
Do not forget that even if you cannot see your audience, each participant can see you. They will look at the slides, but most of the time, they will look at you. So do not forget to look at them too. In case of a webinar, it means you have to look in the camera and not on the screen the whole time. That is a mistake beginners make often. If you only look at your slides, people will notice that you do not look them in the eyes. It is as if you were looking at a fix point on the floor while you present right in front of an audience. So force yourself to look at the camera even if it seems weird to you at the beginning. Usually I make short breaks every 4-5 minutes, look at the camera, smile and ask if there are some questions. Looking at the lense is keeping eye contact with your audience. Keep it in mind and don’t forget to smile while presenting!
#4 Answer questions on the spot
Some people like to have an assistant who answers the questions in the chat while they are presenting. Personnaly I like to do it by myself. It helps me to be alone in the webinar room, when I do not fell observed I can easier connect to my audience. And that’s how I deal with the chat : I read the questions while presenting and answer it directly, not in writing but in speaking. If I am not sure about the answer, I just say that I have no time to answer know because a lot of topics still have to be adressed in the time allowed for the webinar. I offer people to write an e-mail to me. Usually there is a lot of questions because unlike in real life, people do not feel unconfortable about asking. Answering questions on the spot is the right thing to do to show your expertise. You show that you know more than what is written on your slides and that your are a really customer-oriented expert.
#5 Keep your promises
If the webinar lasts longer as planned – maybe because of questions what is actually positive- you should apologize and thank people who stay connected until the end for their time. Offer to send the slides for people who have to leave at the planned time. If you say in the webinar that you’ll send the slides or answer further questions per e-mail, then do it! People will appreciate that a lot.
The best tip I can give is really to look in the camera on a regular basis and smile! Did you already present a webinar? Do you have some additional tips? Then write a comment!