If you’ve read my recent post called
Do you make this #1 mistake when you present online?, you’ll know it asserts that the top mistake of online presenters (such as in webinars) is time-wasting, and it names 3 of the biggest symptoms:
- Spending too long on introductions
- Staying on the same slide too long
- Fixating on interaction instead of value
In that earlier post, you’ll find those 3 problems laid out, but you won’t find any solutions. So that’s where this post comes in.
Below, you’ll find ways to solve each of those 3 problems:
- Grab attention with a great opening, rather than spending too long introducing the speaker or the webinar tools (like the chat window).
If you must do introductions, don’t actually do them at the start! That might sound odd, but it makes more sense to engage your audience first. And you can engage them most effectively by showing some of the value your talk will deliver. (After all, that’s why they’ve come!)
Then, once you’ve got people hooked, they’ll give you more leeway to spend some time on housekeeping. (All the same, respect them and their time – at all times.)
- Ask a rhetorical question, like:
“If you could attract higher-value clients, how would that change your approach to your business? [Pause]
In this session, you’ll learn a 3-step process to do just that.”
- Spark people’s mind’s eye, like by saying:
“Think about a time when you received great service. Recall how you felt. Remember what you said to people about it.
Well today, you’ll discover 5 ways to give your own clients great service too.”
Or by saying:
“Imagine having clients who sing your praises on Facebook and Twitter. In the next 40 minutes, you’ll see our model for fostering fans like that.”
- Begin with a relevant story, like by using one of these opening lines by Patricia Fripp, former president of the National Speakers Association in the US.
- Make each slide easy to digest, so you don’t stay on it too long. Here are 4 tips for you: (The 1st 3 are all sections from the same post.)
- Make your slides “sub-verbal” (in other words use charts, photos, etc
– not bullets).
- Present just 1 thought per slide.
- Use the 3-second rule (as proposed by Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds and other experts) so you don’t overload your audience with slide content. (Recently I read a great paraphrase of Jim Coulter, co-founder of TPG Capital, on a similar subject: Jim suggests you treat your audience as if they’ve the IQ of college professors – but the attention span of kindergarten kids! That sounds like a great way to respect both their intelligence and their time.)
- When answering questions, use the method I call stop Q&A hypnosis to show a new slide for each question.
- Gather data in the registration process, rather than fixating on interactions (like polls) during your event. Then you can shorten your session by about the amount of time you’d spend on feeble live interactions!
For instance, often webinars poll people about their level of knowledge of the subject. Although that’s slightly more accurate than asking the same question during registration (because typically many people who register don’t attend in the end), it also wastes time, and the big drawback is you can’t easily tailor your content to suit the results.
So instead of a live poll, ask people to (optionally) rate their knowledge when they sign up – and let them know their answers will affect the talk’s content. Then make a bar chart out of people’s answers and show it near the start of your talk – just like you would with a live poll.
That way, depending on the results, you can say something like:
“About 60% of you have no experience in this subject, and 30% have very limited experience, so we’ll spend about ⅔ of our time on the basics, and ⅓ on slightly more involved content.”
In this example, you could also send an invitation to a follow-up event specifically for the other 10% of people who have the most experience, which you can’t so easily do with live polls.
For more examples, see Start strong – 3 gripping ways to open your talk.
Now it’s your turn
- What’s your pet peeve about how people tend to present online?
- Do you have ideas for better ways to present in online events?
- Please have your say below.
Check out these posts too
- 10 tech tips for webinars and online meetings
- What’s the best webinar polling question ever? Maybe this…
- Quiz: How many words should you put on your slide, and WHY?
- Stop Q&A hypnosis! (A unique way to handle questions during your talk)
- Intrigue people (FiRST framework – part 1i)
- Today’s most popular posts (and the latest comments on the site)