You’re sitting in a dim auditorium. There is a presenter in front of you, and they are going through slides that show blocks of text. They are talking really fast, and using a lot of technical language.
As they speed through their deck, you can feel your mind wandering. Next thing you know, the presentation is over and you have your entire grocery list planned out in your head.
The worst part? The presenter probably feels pretty good about their delivery. After all, a polite audience would be pretty hesitant to get up and leave the room if they get bored. But in a webinar, that’s exactly what happens when an audience loses interest.
We’ve gathered some common webinar mistakes, and how you can fix them to make engaging webinars.
1. You didn’t include any visuals
You worked really hard on your slides. Everything you could think of including, you did. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Heavy slides can distract your audience, and overload them with information. Instead of writing walls of text, next time try replacing some of the text with visuals.
Visuals speed up understanding
As naturally engaging components, visuals can beef up your presentation and improve overall comprehension. Attention spans are shorter than ever, and adding visuals to your webinar can fight this trend. The brain can actually process images 60,000 times faster than text, making visuals a super efficient way to communicate information. You can add photos, graphs, charts, or even upload video clipsto your webinars.
Visuals make it easier to recall information
Not to mention, visuals can make what you say easier to recall later on. This is best represented by a memorization technique called “method of loci.” Method of loci says that humans are really good at remembering information based on spatial relationships. For example, if you have to remember a pin code like 457, imagining each numeral placed around your bedroom will make it easier to recall later on than if you tried to memorize the figure as a block. You would visualize the 4 on your bedside table, the 5 on your bookshelf and the 7 on the floor near your door.
You can use this theory during the visual component of your webinar by presenting your key points along something like a metro map running across a city. You’re giving your audience additional cues to help them remember what you share with them.
Visuals impact decision making
Finally, visuals can prompt purchasing decisions. Researchers found that the part of the brain that is responsible for seeing also has some command over decision making. One study by Iowa State University found that children were 90% more likely to select salad after seeing a digital display of a rotating image of salad. This occurred even when they were presented with alternative options like hamburgers and pizza!
In fact, according to a study by 3M, people who use visual aids are 43% more persuasive than those who don’t. So, if you add visuals to your webinar you could end up closing more deals later on down the line.
2. You have poor audio quality
You talk too fast, or too slowly. You don't enunciate your words. And- worst of all, you’re using a cut-rate microphone! Bad audio in a webinar will make people tune out pretty fast. Your audio matters a lot, especially when you're presenting in a webinar format. Even though visuals are important, most viewers can deal with a crappy display if the audio is up to par. And 30% of people self identify as auditory learners, meaning that they learn best through the process of hearing and speaking. So if you want people to remember what you say, follow these tips.
Audio can build authority
The way your voice sounds can impact the way you are perceived. This implicit bias can oftentimes be unfairly gendered. Research finds that higher pitched voices are considered to be less reliable than those that are lower pitched. It’s why some female politicians and business leaders have been suspected of voice coaching and lowering their voices. In the tech world, these biases are replayed on a digital playing field. It’s even prompted the creation of a gender neutral AI voice. Because this is the internet, opinions on the subject are pretty divided. However, it is interesting to explore the implications of voice pitch and AI.
For your webinar, we’re definitely not suggesting that you change the natural sound of your voice. This could backfire by making you seem less reliable. Instead, to build authority while speaking, try slowing down. Choose your words deliberately. And apply emotion intentionally, to connect with your audience. A tip we like to follow at Livestorm is listening to our audio recordings after we present. For the introverts among us this isn’t always the most pleasant exercise, but it is helpful for recognizing areas where you could improve your pace or intonations.
Bad tech can be distracting
We’ve experienced our fair share of spotty audio feeds, tinny sounds, and screechy feedback. There are a lot of low quality podcast and webinar platforms out there on the market. As far as engaging an audience goes, there isn’t much that could be worse than bad audio quality. Make sure you’re selecting a high performing software for your webinar needs.
Aside from your software, it’s also a good idea to invest in a nice microphone. You will want to make sure you are in a soundproof room with minimal background noise. We like recommending the Blue Yeti (it’s our favorite) because it is USB connected and can be placed out of view of your video feed. If you decide to use Lavalier microphones (those little mics that can clip directly to a shirt) you’ll want to hook up your laptop to an external mixing system. Something like the Focusrite Scarlett will do a good job of bridging analog microphones with USB ports.
3. You list information
There is a lot of content available on the internet, so hosting a webinar that holds attention is already pretty tough. After all, you have a lot of competition for your audience's attention. If you tend to list information and read bullet points while you present, now is a great time to practice and restructure your presentation style!
Stories are engaging
If you’ve ever lost an entire afternoon to a Netflix series or a good book, you probably recognize that stories are immersive experiences. Stories, like visuals, engage our emotions and can even impact our decision making process. Researcher Carmine Gallo studied 150 hours of TED talks, and found that those that were the most viral broke down to be 35% facts, and 65% personal anecdotes. Audiences respond positively to stories, especially when they are inspirational.
When you present your webinar, try to incorporate facts into a story frame. Maybe you overcame a great challenge early on in the company or solved a problem in a creative way. Hooking your audience with these details will make them want to keep listening.
Presentation style makes a difference
Making an engaging webinar will be easy if you practice how you deliver your information. Avoiding memorizing what you want to say. Rather, remember some key topics and outline of your information, and fill in the rest verbatim. Getting caught up on what you had planned to say can cause you to flub your lines.
A good technique for making sure you’re giving an animated presentation would be to consider first what you look like. Much like our previous tip to listen to your audio feed, we know that this can be a little cringe-inducing. But if you actually watch the recordings of your webinar, you might notice some weird mistakes you make over and over again. Your nonverbal communication (like your facial expressions or posture) and your presentation style can be adjusted to make you a more reliable presenter.