One thing in-person seminar speakers do naturally is ask for a ‘show of hands.’ And as I often argue, presenting virtually – in a new medium – changes things. Unfortunately, this means that many otherwise capable speakers fail to engage their virtual audience as fully as they could.
And this is lose-lose for them and their audiences.
When I coach speakers, the place I start is by asking what they do currently…when in front of a live audience. How do you open, dialogue, manage questions, deal with ad hoc opportunities or interruptions, and how do you close?
With that it’s pretty easy to assist them with *seeing* their audience in a new way, including where and how to use an ad hoc response mechanism like the hand-up feature.
Of note, when I was at PlaceWare (which later became Microsoft LiveMeeting) we did a significant usability study with one of the big 5 consulting firms. The one thing they came back with we already knew: brand-new users almost invariably push slides…and that’s all.
It’s not hard to be dynamic and engaging virtually, to keep your audience from wandering to email or the water cooler, to have them realize that your web seminar isn’t the same as listening to a radio station. But it does require some forethought, some intentionality. Consider:
- Tip #1: Whether it’s you or a moderator, open the web seminar with some instruction about how you’ll be interacting.
- Tip #2: As mentioned before, think through where and how you already ask for a show of hands. Figure out how to remember to do that virtually.
- Tip #3: Familiarize yourself with what the audience is looking at and verbally cue them to participate. “So how many of you are in the Pacific Time Zone… go to the upper right corner of your viewing console and give me a show of hands using the hand-up button.”
- Tip #4: Close the exercise with a verbal cue to put their hand back down. This will ‘clear’ the show of hands so someone putting their hand up later can be appropriately recognized.
Pros prepare for the medium. Master the ‘hand-up’ feature to keep the audience engaged.