In this two-part series we hear from an experienced webinar presenter (who shall remain unnamed) as they share their experience with ups and downs of presenting and running webinars. The goal is to give some practical advice, help you avoid mistakes, address some of your concerns – and perhaps to make you smile because you’ve “been there” as well. Here we go:
I have presented many webinars in my time and some of these confessions are from my early days, some of them are more recent. They are nothing to be ashamed of, because these are likely to happen to all presenters. You may learn something from them, or it may just serve to reassure or make you laugh. I’m sure you have your own confessions, so let’s compare notes and why not share some of your own in the comments section below. Here are six confessions of a webinar presenter.
I confess - Sometimes I get nervous
There are several factors that make me feel nervous about my presentation and recording the webinar. In the early days I was nervous because I had not presented a lot before. It does help that you’re not facing an audience when you’re recording a webinar, as you would in an auditorium or at a conference, so you can take heart from that. It will just be you and the webinar interface (and perhaps a few people who are helping to get it done).
Another aspect that may affect the nerves is the topic itself. Is it a new topic? For me, new topics mean I get more nervous than usual. Unless I’ve had the time to rehearse it quite a few times elsewhere before – but that doesn’t happen often (and it would not make it a new topic anymore now, would it).
I get excited about large webinar audiences. It might make you nervous, but it also means you are likely to get a lot of interaction and questions, which actually helps a lot with the Q&A session at the end. You might be worried about criticism from your audience, but don’t let it affect your delivery. You are the expert and the good thing is that your audience doesn’t have the live streaming mic.
My advice: It has helped me to prepare well in advance and take the time to rehearse. If you are running an audio webinar you have the benefit of being able to lay all your papers, notes and slides out in front of you. Make yourself at home well in advance of the live time, but remember that the microphone will pick up rustling of paper, so just be mindful of that.
I confess - Sometimes I’m not prepared
It can happen, especially if you are running a lot of webinars or you are distracted with other projects and timelines. I have not been prepared more than once. Sometimes it can go spectacularly wrong (don’t worry, there are ways around that!) but most of the time the audience won’t know any different. I am my own harshest critic, no doubt you are the same, which makes for a lot of self-critique which the audience wouldn’t care about.
It is important to be prepared though because it makes your life less stressful and the webinar that little bit (or large bit) better. Preparation can make the difference between the audience just listening or actually asking a lot of questions. For example, this can happen when – due to a lack of preparation - you are too focused on delivering the presentation and forget to encourage the audience to submit their questions throughout the webinar. You really want the audience to engage with you because it makes the webinar more memorable for them and more insightful for you.
I have had a lack of preparation affect all sorts of aspects, including not printing my slides for backup, my housekeeping notes, not leaving enough time before the live recording time to sit and breathe, not getting a glass of water, and not checking that last fact which is quoted on slide 1. A lack of preparation sets you off on the wrong foot and can easily be avoided.
My advice: Prepare a checklist that you can use repeatedly for all future webinar presentations. Talk to someone who has done it before and get some tips on what to remember, if you are unsure. Take your time. Make some time. If a live presentation is not at the top of your list of priorities, you should ask yourself whether you should be doing it in the first place. If it all goes wrong, be confident and press on. You can draw from your experience to make up for it if you need to, but don’t let that become your M.O.
I confess - Sometimes I miss sections
It happens, but not too much anymore. But missing sections of your presentation is usually down to nerves and a lack of preparation as well. I have had attendees ask about the context of my presentation, and have had fellow presenters wave their arms frantically to get my attention while my mic was live.
My advice: When it happens it happens. Be open and honest about it with your audience. It’s the best way to recover and it makes you more human, which the audience appreciates. If you’re too far down the presentation you may want to ignore it, but you can always try and cover the content during the Q&A session, if the link is not too tedious. Turn it round to your advantage and tell the audience you forgot to cover XYZ – anyone who wants to know more about if can contact you directly. Voila, you have yourself a conversation with a prospect!
In part 2 of this two-part Confessions Of A Webinar Presenter blog we’ll hear more confessions from the practical side of running webinars
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