This has been a busy year already, especially for remote work. Some of this remote work was planned and some was in response to travel and on-site cancellations due to Coronavirus. Some of the things I'd like to share about giving a really good webinar or presentation come from lessons learned and shared with me.
I've also shared the on-demand webinar links and recorded Q&A links at the bottom of this blog post.
Use images on your presentation slides to illustrate your talk. DO NOT READ WORD-FOR-WORD! Your viewer will tune out. See the Assertion-Evidence website for more presentation tutorials and templates.
Slow your speech to ~80% of your normal rate.
Imagine you're talking to a good friend.
Stand up when you present, you'll sound more alert.
Smile when you talk, you'll relax and sound more at ease.
Write a script of what you want to say and practice your presentation flow and timing.
Make smoother transitions to the next slide by using wording that connects or introduces the transition.
If presenting on your computers webcam, align your computer and any external monitors so you're looking at your webcam as much as possible - it's more engaging to your viewers.
Record your practice presentations to get used to timing, moving to your next slide, and then listen & watch your recorded practice presentation.
Have another person listen to your practice presentation for feedback - this is even especially helpful if they have no idea of what you're talking about.
Explain or define industry jargon and acronyms.
Stay away from cultural, regional, or country-centric colloquialisms. Not everything translates smoothly.
If you've practiced using auto-timing for slides, consider turning off this function during live presentations. Otherwise, your slides may move on slower or faster than you're talking.
Connect your computer directly into your internet instead of relying on wi-fi. This will provide for a more stable connection.
Turn off your VPN (if at home) and close all other applications on your computer - this will increase the bandwidth of your connection.
Don't use cell phones or speaker phones. Instead, consider a good quality USB microphone or headset (with microphone) with a shield (to dampen wind noise and strong vocal punches).
Present in a small room, since big rooms often have an echo.
Turn off air conditioning, heaters, or other noisy devices; you may think they can’t be heard over the phone line, but they can. Also note the sound of keystrokes and mouse-clicks.
If your cell phone is in the room, turn it off so it doesn’t ring during the presentation.
If you are using a room in your office building, place a DO NOT DISTURB sign prominently on the door so coworkers don’t barge in unexpectedly.
If presenting from your home office, let family members know when you will be recording/presenting so you are not disturbed.
If presenting from your home office, remove your pets from the room so they don't become part of the recording. Otherwise, you'll need to add your pet as a featured presenter and write their bio.
Mute the volume on your computer speakers.
Turn off incoming mail and any other audio notifications.
For live presentations, do at least one "dress rehearsal" practice session with everyone involved in the live production. Make sure it is known how to log in, how to share your screen, how to swap hosts, who will advance slides, how will handle live chats, what participants will see, etc.
During the "dress rehearsal", test VPN and other security settings of each speaker and hosts to determine how they'll affect the live presentation.
Sound-check every presenter and guest speaker starting at least 30 to 60 minutes before the live webinar, so you have time to address any issues with audio quality.
If you will be shown on camera, make sure you are well-lit (so you can be seen). Consider a ring light or other diffused light source in front of you.
Whether recorded or live, you MAY NOT be able to see anyone else when you're speaking. This can be really disconcerting as you aren't getting any immediate feedback from the participants. Put a picture of a loved one near where you're looking to give you something to anchor to.
I'm curious what others have learned, too. I'd love to hear from you about your experiences and what you found useful.
On-Demand Webinars with Heather Wade
Webinar with Vaisala for GxP-Compliant calibration: Learning from form 483s and warning letters (April 2020):
Vaisala GxP Warning Letters Webinar Q&A with Heather Wade (April 2020):