What Your Audience Really Wants from Your Webinar Presentation

You have prepared to host a Webinar, and promoted it extensively to your network to get “butts in the seats.”  Now it’s time to focus on the heart and soul of your Webinar:  the Presentation.

When it comes to your actual presentation for the Webinar event—as is true with most elements of online marketing—content is king.  Your audience is seated, and eager to hear what you have to say.  However, this is where you can easily lose them by not providing what they expect.  If your audience could talk back (and I have interviewed Webinar attendees to find out!), here’s what they want you to know as a Webinar presenter:

1.  “Inform me, don’t sell me.”  The content should be informative and educational to your audience, not a 30/45/60-minute commercial for your business.  They are there to learn something useful that will benefit them, and likely will be grateful to you for providing that information.  You, of course, should be promoting your expertise/products/services in the course of the presentation, but in subtle ways, such as:

    • In your introduction (or when someone introduces you), include a brief statement of what your company does
    • Give real examples of how you have helped customers with the topic at hand (since it’s likely one you specialize in, right?)
    • Include your branding on every slide
    • Display contact information toward the end of the presentation
    • Feature a “special offer” of your products/services for Webinar attendees before the Q&A session (not after since you will lose some participants when it’s time for questions)

2.  “Give me something I can use!”  If it’s a choice between a narrow topic and a broad topic, go narrow.  This allows you to dive deep into the meat of your subject instead of just skimming the surface with little for the audience to take away.  They should leave your presentation wanting more, not forgetting about you in 10 minutes.  Above all, attendees adore authentic, actionable advice (and alliteration, I assume).

3.  “We can read for ourselves, thank you very much.”  Your presentation shouldn’t be a verbal recitation of information on PowerPoint slides, or you will bore your audience to death!  Webinars are an equal combination of auditory and visual input.  Use a minimum of text on each slide; instead, use images and vocal cues to grab and hold attention.

4.  “Of course you agree with yourself!”  When you are the sole presenter, it’s natural to state your opinions and expect the audience to see these as facts.  However, the best presenters will always use statistics, quotes from others, and other external data to back up their assertions.  It’s perfectly acceptable to put your own “spin” on the topic at hand, but consider using external sources and having a customer or other third party validate you as a subject matter expert.

5.  “Are you tawkin’ ta me?”  Remember that college professor that would drone on and on, seemingly with no regard for whether the students were engaged or not?  Heads up, Dr. Boring!  Keep the presentation as interactive as possible by doing all or some of the following:

    • Involve multiple presenters (or at least a presenter and a moderator)
    • Insert at least 2 poll questions into the presentation for audience response
    • Encourage the audience to “chat” or submit questions during the presentation (here’s where a moderator can really add value!)
    • Reserve the last 10-15 minutes of the presentation for Q&A and use first names when you read an attendee’s question (hint:  Always have a few “canned” questions in reserve in case your audience is shy at first)
    • Create a unique Twitter hashtag (ex: #mycoolwebinar) for your Webinar and get the conversation going before, during and after the Webinar (again, moderator alert!)

6.  “Ummmm, you did practice this first, right?”  An audience will pick up on an ill-prepared presentation in a heartbeat.  I cringe when Webinar presenters don’t know what’s on their next slide, or step on someone else’s part.  Develop a script (or at least a detailed outline) that clearly designates all presenters’ parts and when the slides will change.  Don’t worry, we will cover practice in more detail next time.

 To recap:

  1. Inform, don’t sell.
  2. Depth trumps breadth.
  3. Make your slides visually interesting, and don’t read them word for word.
  4. Back up your opinions with facts.
  5. Keep the audience involved.
  6. Practice!

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about presenting a Webinar.  Our next blog will focus on Practicing for your Webinar.