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The Presenter’s Guide to Hosting Engaging Webinars

March 30, 2020 Uncategorized

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In today’s world, distance is no longer an issue when it comes to effective communication. With web conferences or webinars, you no longer have to hop on a plane to sit in meetings with those in another time zone.

But there’s more to webinars than just talking in front of a webcam, especially if you want to share crucial information or leave a lasting impression. It’s important that you enhance your audience’s experience with a webinar PowerPoint deck.

When you’re presenting in front a live audience, you’re physically available to command their attention. Your PowerPoint slides serve a secondary purpose. However, when you’re presenting online, your webinar PowerPoint deck is the main attraction.

With that in mind, consider these specific tips to make sure that your webinar PowerPoint speaks through the computer screen.

The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The perks of hosting a webinar abound—that’s why businesses can’t get enough of it. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from using this marketing tool to your advantage:

  • Save on costs. No matter how big your company is, you still need to use your resources wisely. Webinars are a good investment because they don’t cost much. All you need is a stable internet connection to hold one and a few active online platforms to promote it.
  • Maximize time. Unlike in physical events like seminars or conferences, you don’t need months or weeks to prepare for a webinar. A few days of preparation would suffice. You can also save time from traveling since you can conduct a webinar from the comforts of your home or office. 
  • Repurpose content. Webinars are versatile tools for marketing. You can turn them into webcasts once the event is over. You can also repurpose webinar content into a blog post or website copy. If you’re able to record your sessions, you can keep them in your knowledgebase for future reference.
  • Eliminate physical barriers. One of the conveniences of hosting a webinar is that anyone can participate in it, regardless of location or time zone. Speakers are also free to interact with participants through real-time polls and chat boxes.
  • Get feedback. You can immediately gauge the success of your webinar by sending out a survey to the participants. The feedback can clue you in as to the strengths and weaknesses of your event.

Can a Webinar Help Reach Your Business Goals?

You’d think the answer to that question is an unwavering yes, but it actually depends on the goals you aim to achieve. While it’s true that webinars are an effective marketing tool, they only work in certain contexts. So, before planning one, make sure it will leave a positive impact on your business.

What exactly are webinars for? For one, they’re a good training and outreach tool. You can use them to share your expertise to your target audience. Webinars are also effective for getting the word out to your customers when rolling out a new product. When done right, it can help you move customers further down the sales funnel and reposition yourself as an industry thought leader.

Primary Goals and Purposes of Webinars

There are many reasons why marketers include webinars in their business efforts. The following are the three most important.

  • To educate customers. According to ClickMeeting, 85% of webinars are designed to educate existing and potential clients. If there’s one thing webinars should do, it’s to offer a novel perspective. They ought to satiate people’s desire to learn new things. Webinars are also a tool for businesses to solidify their credibility and establish themselves as experts in the field.
  • To promote brand awareness. The more successful your webinar is, the more people will learn about it. The louder the noise it makes, the more people will check it out. Hosting a webinar can expand your audience reach every time you bring something fresh and interesting to the table.
  • To generate/convert new business. The same infographic by ClickMeeting claimed that 77% of webinars are designed to attract new leads. With a successful webinar, you can reach more business prospects and cultivate them through the sales process.

Planning a Successful Webinar

Planning is a critical step in any type of campaign, including hosting webinars. To produce a successful experience, you need to lay out all the steps leading to the actual event. 

It might be tempting to jump straight to the promotion stage, especially if you have a winning topic and a celebrated speaker, but no excuse can justify skipping the planning part. 

Without a solid plan in place, you run the risk of delivering a lackluster presentation that’ll only prove to be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Before hosting a webinar, you need to find out first if there’s even a demand for it. 

Conduct a survey in your audience circle, and find out if enough people are interested to join your session. Once you’re sure that the audience likes this format, proceed to the preparation phase.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Craft the content. Kick off by briefly introducing yourself, the other speakers or panelists, and the companies involved. Tell the audience about the topic you’re going to tackle, and give them a preview of what’s going to happen. You should be able to grab their attention during the first few minutes. In the body of your content, present a maximum of three ideas that you can expound on. Finally, finish off with a memorable statement, a call to action, and a courtesy message for the participants.
  • Set the time and duration. Find out what works best for your attendees. If you’ve hosted webinars befor, take note of when people start to drop off (if they do) and plan accordingly. If you have foreign prospects, make sure that you find a common time that’s convenient for them and for the local participants.
  • Determine the panelists. Invite someone who can communicate the message best. You can collaborate with other brands to add greater value to your webinar. Have someone who is familiar with your content and who can help keep your presentation flowing smoothly. 
  • Prepare your tools. Obviously, you need technology to set up your event. Find a platform that can host your webinar, and make sure that your Internet connection is reliable enough to stream it. It’s also important to get a good phone headset, ideally a cordless one, so that you can stand up and move while talking. 
  • Create a landing page. Make sure it has sufficient details about the webinar to make the prospects excited about signing up. Include a registration form that requests information from your attendees. The most important fields are the name and e-mail address. You can also ask for the company they’re affiliated with. Any more than these three can make your prospects less likely to sign up.

Creating a Presentation that Speaks through the Screen

The Structure

It’s important that your webinar PowerPoint follows a structure with a logical flow. Begin with a quick introduction, delve in the main body of your topic, and end with a concise conclusion.

  • Introduction: Include slides introducing yourself and other presenters in the webinar. Include a picture and relevant credentials so your audience can feel like they’re not just talking to a computer screen. It’s also useful if you can include a slide that explains the logistics of your webinar.
  • Body: The body of your webinar PowerPoint deck will depend on the topic you’re discussing. Whatever it is, keep your discussion clear but brief. Stick to discussing only one point at a time. There are plenty of ways to arrange the body of your webinar PowerPoint, just make sure that each point is structured into main segments.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion of your webinar PowerPoint should be short and sweet. Don’t drag it out by repeating everything you said before. Instead, create a slide that summarizes your main points. To encourage your audience to participate in a discussion, include an action plan or a call-to-action question.

Design for Audience Engagement

Your webinar PowerPoint should be efficiently designed for online sharing. Lags in your presentation look unprofessional and can be frustrating — and disengaging — for your audience.

Opt for a simpler, sleeker design. As always, avoid using too much text and bullet points. Most importantly, avoid using huge picture files, videos, and animations which might cause problems for connectivity. This doesn’t mean you should go completely without graphics. Just make sure the file sizes aren’t too large or are compressed before sharing. 

Consider the following when designing your webinar PowerPoint deck:

  • When explaining something that requires several steps, consider making use of “build” slides. This is a type of animation that allows you to reveal a slide bit by bit as you talk. Breaking content up with build slides is key for keeping virtual audiences engaged. Here’s an example:
  • Visualizing data properly is paramount for engaging all audiences, but even more so for online audiences. Make sure the visualizations you use tie in to your narrative and overarching message for maximum effect.
  • A Harvard Department of Psychology study showed that people tend to characterize presentations with animation as quantifiably more “dynamic, visually compelling, and distinctive. Make sure you’re doing it right.
  • Make use of PowerPoint’s SmartArt graphics to illustrate key points without having to use complicated images.
  • For the background of your slides, opt for a solid color or gradient effect. Lower quality images might not be big enough to fill the entire background. And if you resize them, your background will look distorted and pixelated.

Tips for Hosting a Successful Webinar Experience

1) Make It Personal

Speaking to a computer screen won’t engage your virtual audience. Talk through the slides to present and persuade people as if they were there in person. Don’t let your monitor hinder you from successfully delivering your webinar. Instead, make your talk personal as if doing a one-on-one conversation with a close friend or colleague.

2) Be Creative

Virtual audiences are more likely to wander off and multi-task while listening to your online conference. No matter how good your speaking skills are, they can still get bored with your discussion. Keep them engaged by incorporating creative visuals in your deck. Use a combination of interactive images, questions, and short video clips to catch their focus and heighten their interest in your business presentation.

3) Use Effective Pauses

Hosting a webinar is much like public speaking – it requires appropriate pauses and pacing. Effective, short pauses allow you to steadily control the discussion’s flow. You can use noticeable silences to give your listeners a chance to think about what you’ve just said. Choose a healthy pace so you don’t look like you’re rushing through your entire presentation.

4) Avoid Filler Words

Most speakers use filler words “uh,” “um,” and “you know” to make everything they say one long sentence.This presentation habit is also a big taboo when delivering a webinar. Keep these words to a minimum to not alienate your audience from you and your message. This can cause a big dent in your credibility, and should definitely be avoided.

Conclusion

Once you’ve hosted your own webinar, you’ll understand why it’s considered by many businesses as an effective customer acquisition channel. Webinars offer the perfect platform for attracting new leads and nurturing existing client relationships to a more responsive level.

Follow these presentation tips to facilitate effective learning and engagement across varied online audiences, and give your business a higher profile.

Need assistance on your webinar PowerPoint presentation? Schedule a free consultation now.