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3 tips to help you pull off successful webinar appearances

By David Goad   

With the proliferation of webinars as a common communication vehicle for business, odds are you may eventually be asked to present in one—maybe as a featured speaker or as a panelist sharing the virtual stage with others.

There is plenty of advice on how to be a good moderator, but not as much on how to be a good panelist. 

So here are three tips that will help you pull off successful webinar appearances.

Tip #1: Prepare

Since you already know your subject so well, is it really necessary to rehearse? Unequivocally, yes! Even before you get to the “dry run” or dress rehearsal, you should have prepared the key messages that you want to rise to the top during the live session.

Write out an introduction, a closing, and at least three to five key supporting points. Rehearse them out loud until they come out in a confident and conversational tone.

If you express them passionately during your dry run, your moderator is more likely to ask you about them during the live event. Encouraging your moderator to ask you transitional questions between your slides will help you sound more natural and conversational.

You might also find it helpful to ask to see the presentations from your fellow panelists in advance. It’s awkward to show up at the prom with matching dresses, and painful to be blindsided with controversy.

Tip #2: Project

Present with more power than you think you need. Typical webinars with audio and PowerPoint slides are a lot like doing a radio show. Listen to a radio talk show host in your car and note the pace, energy, and vocal variety used to keep your interest. Without body language to help you engage your audience, your voice must do all the work.

Instead of sitting at your desk with your phone to your ear, put on a good, quality headset and stand up to present. Don’t hold back on gesturing with your hands, even if your office mates begin staring at you.

Your energy and airflow will be much stronger, and the audience will hear the difference.

Tip #3: Pay attention

This seems obvious, but there are great speakers who are so focused on their own words that they repeat something already said by another panelist. It is also more interesting to the audience to hear a conversation or debate instead of a one-voice lecture or product pitch.

Pay attention to courtesy—take care to let other panelists get in their equal share of “air time.” You can even ask them what they think about your last point to get them talking. This is also a great stalling technique if you need a drink of water.

Help your moderator during the question and answer (Q&A) period by suggesting commonly asked questions the audience may be interested in. With certain webinar programs, you can send private chat messages to the moderator about questions you want to be asked or corrections you would like to make.

Pay close attention to what is being asked during the Q&A and give short, but impactful answers. If needed, use the “defer and segue” technique for tough questions, perhaps adding in a valuable point you wanted to make. 

For example: “That’s a deep dive question that would be better answered by one of our engineers, and I can connect you with an expert after the session. But your question is part of a larger issue we’ve heard from others in your industry… how much time and money should you spend on customization for your end-users? We have deployment experts who can help guide you in that decision.”

Prepare, project, and pay attention

Follow these tips to ensure your message is well-delivered, even if your moderator is not quite up to par. The audience will appreciate it and seek you out for more information after the webinar. And the skills you develop for online presenting will be just as helpful for face-to-face presentations. A webinar may be virtual, but it’s still stage time.

David Goad is a speaker, writer, and Cisco marketeer based in Tracy, Calif. Learn more about his approach to business communication and inspiration from his blog, Short Stories with a Point located at http://davidgoad.wordpress.com.

To hear more…

•You can listen to customers discuss how they were able to demonstrate complex software demos, launch new products, and present to virtual audiences from anywhere to anywhere in the world by visiting www.webex.com/m/ShowcasePodcast-Events.mp3.

 • You can also learn about customized solutions that can help you transition your traditional face-to-face events to online events by contacting Cisco WebEx Collaboration Solutions Expert, Gretta Spaulding, at gretta.spaulding@webex.com.


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