April 22

Is anybody listening? 5 tips to a riveting web presentation


Ever found yourself texting, checking email or freshening your coffee during a web presentation or webinar? Temptations abound in a virtual world and that’s exactly what your prospects are doing if you’ve failed to keep them engaged and focused on your message.

Maintaining your prospect’s attention is a challenge online. What works in live presentations – FASTER, BIGGER, LOUDER! – doesn’t translate to a virtual audience. Understanding where you’re at high risk for tune-out and making some strategic adjustments in those areas can take your presentation from “Is anybody out there?” to “Are we done already?!”

Here are 5 tips for a riveting web presentation or demo:

  1. Have two openings.

    If you’ve been on time for a web presentation you know how frustrating it can be to wait for others to join the meeting. How you handle this will affect the first impression your audience forms of you, the host. How can you avoid frustrating the audience members who are on time but not penalize latecomers by missing your opening? Have two openings! The first opening is a “false” opening designed to get your audience engaged without revealing your big “hook.” This can be a poll or a secondary topic, but whatever it is, it should be something that is relevant but isn’t mandatory for your overall message. The second opening is your real opening, reserved for when everyone is in attendance. That way you can start both on-timers and latecomers on the same page.

  2. Visually reinforce key points.

    You can get away with using fewer slides during a live presentation because it’s easier to gauge how well your audience is getting any particular point by their body language or facial expressions. They are also more likely to speak up in a live presentation. In a web presentation, silence does not equal understanding. Rather than asking your audience “does that make sense?” every five seconds, give your key points some back up by putting them on a very clear, simple slide.

  3. Create word pictures.

    In a virtual presentation your words have to work even harder than in a live presentation. Think about creating pictures with your words. For example, when describing something be specific and avoid broad generalities. (e.g., “it weighs 510 pounds” as opposed to “it’s really big.”) Use personal stories or interesting comparisons. Listen to your favorite podcasts and radio shows and you’ll notice how they use descriptive words to keep you engaged.

  4.  Simplify your slides.

    Ever decided not to watch a movie on that little airplane screen because it wouldn’t do it justice? The same holds true for a web presentation; what works on the big screen doesn’t always translate to the small screen. Keep your graphics simple and crisp.

  5. End the party on time.

    While this applies to live presentations as well, it plays even greater importance in web presentations where it’s easy for people to check out if the meeting goes on longer than planned. Make it very clear that you’re going to stop at a specific time up front, which means you have to build in time for potential questions. Do an official close at the designated time − or earlier (prospects loves this!) and if anyone has additional questions either take them off-line or schedule another call.

BONUS TIP!  Use a web camera. There is no quicker, easier way to grab a virtual audience’s attention than to give them a live face to look at. You don’t have to have the camera on the entire time, but think about using it at points during your presentation when you want to interact directly with your prospect, e.g., Q&A, introductions, closing, etc.


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