To run an effective webinar or make an impact in other online communications you need to
communicate with Confidence, Connection and a message that drives Change.
Here is some skills and practicalities from Lyn Roseaman, Toastmasters International
Remember that nerves are natural
Feeling nervous is our brain’s way of keeping us safe, but it makes our audience feel
uncomfortable and concerned for our wellbeing. Online, they may choose to abandon us
and stop listening.
To ensure our listeners engage with our message we need to bring confident energy to the
screen. This will mean that our audience can relax and connect with us and what we’re
saying. Here’s how.
Look businesslike and look your best
When you go online from home, it’s easy to overlook your familiar surroundings. What’s on
the walls and behind you that the camera will pick up? Are there people or sounds that may
interrupt? Is the space you’ve chosen sending out the message you intend? A kid’s playroom
is probably not ideal for a business webinar.
Think about being online as having a close up. On the small screen the camera will pick up
every detail, expression and gesture. Is your lighting setting you off to best advantage? Is
the light behind the camera so that you’re not plunged into shadow? Is dazzling sunshine
bouncing flare onto your face, especially if you wear glasses? Capture a photo/screenshot
before you go live to make sure you’re looking the part.
Keep yourself calm
Online, we need to convey a feeling of calm and control when we host a meeting or event,
handle technology and ensure everything runs smoothly.
In spite of doing all the appropriate tech checks, things can still go wrong. And people
accept that this can happen. What’s important is that you handle it calmly and efficiently,
explaining what’s happening. If you can find someone else to take care of the tech for you,
Manage your body language
Think of all the non-verbal ways you can convey confident energy online:
Smiling gives an aura of confidence.
An open and stable posture that is relaxed and assured. If seated, push your bottom
to the back of the chair and sit upright, both feet firmly planted on the floor.
Reduce gestures. Big gestures that work in a conference room will overwhelm or fall
When you’re close to the mic, people may hear your nerves in your voice. Breathe
into the abdomen and relax your upper body so that your vocal tone is rich and
Steady eye contact and the correct positioning of your camera lens at just above eye
level helps you to come across as open and sincere.
If you’ve been to conference you may well have notice that some speakers have a queue of
people waiting to talk to them. These speakers had connected, both in terms of the value
they gave to the audience – their relevant message – and the way the speaker made them
Answer the question ‘What’s in it for me?
As a webinar host it’s your responsibility to know what your listeners are expecting from
you, i.e. answering their all-important ‘What’s in it for me’ question – as quickly as possible
– so that they have a reason to carry on listening. To achieve this, you need to know your
participants. Find out who they are, what makes them tick and why they’re attending.
Use the magic word
‘You’ is the magic word when it comes to being relevant and engaging online. In English,
‘you’ power comes from being both singular – a one-to-one conversation – and plural,
including everyone. You-focused language simultaneously creates a feeling of inclusivity and
a personal connection with every listener.
If you can create a feeling of ‘we’re in this together’, encouraging interaction between
presenter and participants, then you hit that ‘sweet spot’ of co-creation. To ensure this run
smoothly online, you’ll need to help people to listen to each other and avoid all talking at
Share a story
Storytelling comes into its own online. When we tell a relevant personal story, openly and
honestly, our listeners can relate to us. Stories create connections and are both engaging
and memorable. As I say in my book Now You’re Talking “Engaging speakers share their
message through stories. They can move an audience, even in business settings, to
feel, laugh or cry, and are memorable for all the right reasons.”
In stark contrast, sharing your screen and wading through bullet points is neither engaging
nor memorable and fast-track to losing your listeners.
With our world currently turned on its head, online meetings, events and conversations are
our opportunity to remain visible, explore and share change and start building our future
Search engines can tell us immediately what’s new and different online. To stand out and
keep our listeners interested we need to say something relevant and on-point.
Start at the end of your presentation or meeting with how you want your listeners to think,
feel or act after they’ve experienced what you have to say. Identify your message and then
incorporate only content that supports it.
Make it easy for your audience
Attention spans tend to be short. Online, there is even less appetite for digressions than
when you’re in the room with your listeners, so get to the point and stay relevant.
Structure a webinar so that it is easy to understand. Consider a clear structure, such as pros
& cons or a hero’s journey. Break up your presentation into small ‘chunks’ of around five
minutes each and top and tail each chunk with what you plan to cover and a keyword to
sum it up as you move on. Signpost what you have to say so your audience can follow the
‘road map’ for your webinar.
Good communication is hugely important. Right now, we need to give webinars and
presentations convincingly online. Hone your skills now so you have the flexibility to sparkle
online and when you can be in the same physical space as your audience.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lyn Roseaman is a Distinguished Toastmaster at Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit
organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a
worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK
and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills
and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time
management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org