6 things you can do right now to improve your virtual presentations and classes

In my last post I took a step back to ask, “What do I wish I knew waaay back then that I’d share with a webinar/virtual classroom newbie?”

Now, based on some questions from a recent webinar I delivered, here are 6 ideas for taking the next step (and, frankly, many experience presenters still need ;) ).

1. Put a complete thought in the slide title

One research study found statistically significant upside when the slide title was a complete sentence. In a webinar it’s useful to assume that some people in our audience are multitasking, and if they only glance at your slide, it’s likely useful to “have the cookies on the bottom shelf.”

2. Create a sense of presence

Have you ever had someone type in, “Did you see my question?” I have, more times than I can count. Remember, each member of your audience is sitting by themselves at their computer (most likely). Creating a sense of presence means helping the audience know they’re not alone, either by how you connect with them or facilitate peer-to-peer connections either externally (e.g., Twitter or a public chatroom like TodaysMeet.com) or in a publicly viewable chat function in your conferencing solution. If you want to see me walk my talk, join me for an upcoming event with Adobe on using “immersive” webinars for content marketing.

3. Draw the eyes to your slide’s main point

You can do this one of two ways: adding or subtracting. Use a drawing tool (e.g., highlighter, pointer, etc.), or add an arrow (or equivalent) to direct attention. Alternatively (and my preference), reduce and simplify when you design slides, stripping away anything extraneous to the point you’re making.

4. Keep “wholes” whole…and then build them

One research study looked at whether or not it helped understanding and memory to introduce bullet points one at a time versus simultaneously. The results showed that it may actually be useful to introduce them all together if they go together as a whole (like steps in a process). The brain sees the big picture first…and then it’s okay to build them in as you go over them.

5. Pause for power and attention

Pausing is often talked about (and under utilized) as part of presentation coaching, but it’s extra important to be cognizant in a webinar where it feels unnatural because you may not yet have your own sense of the virtual audience. Pause in advance of a key point to create a sense of anticipation. Pause after a key point to let it sink in (meaning you give them time to reflect and process). And what does an audience member do when they hear a pause? Lean in!

6. Ask your audience what or when is best

In webinar solutions you can ask questions of your audience before, during, and after your webinar with registration, polls, etc. You can use this information to greatly improve how well you deliver to them and connect with them. Example…use a poll to gauge experience level so you can speak to them more effectively. Unless your webinars are one-and-done, use these tools not only for engagement, but for information gathering. What’s their preferred day and time for webinars? What would they like to see more of or less of?

The bottom line

These ideas area bit of a hodge-podge, but each is something that can transform your webinar or virtual classroom effectiveness. And for those of you who asked questions that gave me something to blog about, thank you. Keep ‘em coming!