Don’t Choke! The Prepared Presenter’s Guide to Webinars

You’re hosting a webinar.

The word is out and your audience is starting to fill up.

Your stomach is fluttering. Stage-fright is kicking in.

What if I choke? What if GoToWebinar crashes, I forget my lines, and half my audience leaves before the second act?

Don’t worry, you’re a pro. The show must go on.

Keep calm and follow this three-step formula to prepare, rehearse, and get the standing ovation you deserve…

Strategy Briefing

Technical issues. A Lack of engagement. An unorganized presentation. There are countless reasons why attendees may not feel “wowed” by your webinar.

The right preparation can change that.

When starting out, you can expect to spend over 20 hours preparing for a one-hour webinar. When it comes to webinars, there’s no such thing as being over prepared.

So what exactly do you need to do before your webinar? We’ve compiled all of the things you need to check prior to the live event. Follow along and learn how to…

  • Create a structured, visual slide deck that’s easy to follow
  • Keep attendees captivated with a confident, conversational presentation
  • Prevent and solve common GoToWebinar technical mishaps

1. Create a structured, visual slide deck that’s easy to follow

Imagine showing up to a university lecture and finding a professor without a lesson plan or slides for that class. Even worse, when students ask questions you can tell he or she doesn’t know the answer. Most people would leave, judging the class as a waste of time and the prof as clueless and unqualified.

The same goes for your webinar. You need to prepare thoroughly for your presentation. This includes having a solid slide deck to capture your audience’s attention.

Your slide presentation needs to excite and engage your webinar audience. If your slides are boring or lacking strong content, attendees will get distracted and likely leave. Don’t just fill your slides with text. 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. Provide your audience with powerful images that they will understand and remember.

The types of slides you need in your presentation include:

An introduction slide

  • You need to introduce your webinar topic and your company visually as you begin speaking. After a slide introducing the topic, we give some company background info. We want attendees to feel like they know and understand the Wishpond brand. We also state how we’ve been successful with these strategies in the past to show our credibility and expertise.

A table of contents slide

  • You want to set the stage for what you’re going to be covering in your webinar. Attendees want to know what they’ll be learning from the start and what value they’ll get by sticking around.

A balance between easy to understand best practice examples (A) and informative how-to slides (B)

  • An example of this is from our recent webinar in which we showed an awesome landing page created by a Wishpond customer (showing best practices). We then proceeded to show slides of building a similar landing page on the same template using our tool. This delivers both educational information and the value of our product, reinforced through a real-life case.
Example A

Example B

A summary slide for each section

  • In our webinars we tell attendees to write down the info on the summary slide, signalling its importance. Summary slides make the webinar flow smoothly from one section to the next. They also reinforce the value of each section to attendees by summing up all of the content in one place.

A conclusion slide

  • This gives attendees your contact information as you vocally close the webinar and open the floor up to questions.

2. Use Effective Presentation Skills to Captivate Your Audience

32% of people say they engage with webinars with a passionate and energetic speaker. Another 16% say that visual slides are what makes them engaged.

People value presentation and delivery. How you present your webinar is just as important as the content itself. You need to keep participants engaged for the full length of your webinar with enthusiasm and interaction.

Presenting your webinar is like plating a menu item at a fancy restaurant. How the chef presents and garnishes the dish is as crucial, if not more crucial than the way it actually tastes.

The psychology of engaging presentations

“People hate it when they get talked at, so don’t do it. You need to interact with your audience and create a conversation.”- Neil Patel

It has been proven that active participation leads to attention, which leads to memorability. Keeping the brain occupied causes you to focus. And, as Yale psychologists Marvin M Chun and Nicholas B Turk-Browne conclude “Attending to or focusing on a fact or event will enhance the likelihood of later memory.”

Delivering content via webinars is the perfect way to encourage interaction. It allows for active participation, increasing your audience’s retention of the information you present.

Have a script prepared and rehearsed!

“Definitely prepare yourself a script. Even if you think you know what you want to say, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you forget once you get into presentation mode.” - Chris McHale, Wordstream

Even the most experienced presenters need a script. As Chris McHale of Wordstream says “Definitely prepare yourself a script. Even if you think you know what you want to say, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you forget once you get into presentation mode.”

  • Start your webinar with a compelling fact or powerful statistic. This a great way to hook attendees from the start.
  • Script your opening. This allows you to smoothly and confidently start your presentation.
  • Finish strong with a well planned and practiced summary and call to action.

The rest of your presentation should seem conversational. Talk to attendees like they’re physically sitting in front of you. Don’t make it sound like you’re just reading a script. Write down all of your points in bullet point-form. Practice what you’re going to say for each one with a friend or colleague leading up to the webinar.

Your script is like your roadmap. It keeps you on track and ensures you don’t get lost along the way.

Webinar Presentation Do’s and Don’ts

Do..

Maintain a high level of energy throughout

Don’t let your passion fade halfway through your presentation. Be enthusiastic, it’s contagious. If you’re excited presenting the content your audience will be excited. Remember to finish sentences as strongly as you start them.

Reduce the text and increase the visuals

People like visuals more than text. In fact, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. Excite your audience with images, graphs and screenshots on your slides. Images should be used to reinforce what you’re saying and help the audience remember your content.

Include a specific call-to-action

Your final slide is the perfect place to ask attendees to take action. Tell them what to do and show them how. Your CTA could be to visit your website, sign up for a free trial, or to buy now. Your final slide should thank them for attending, provide them with a powerful finish and ask them to continue the relationship.

Speak with confidence

Your audience has taken the time to register and attend your webinar. Show them you’re worth their time. Be confident and proud of your expertise with the topic. Speak loudly and clearly and deliver a flawless presentation.

Don’t..

Be late

How you begin your webinar says a lot about you. If you are on time and hook them in immediately you will create a favorable impression. Being late to your own webinar is one thing attendees won’t forgive you for. Their time is valuable, don’t waste it.

Forget to introduce yourself

Have a professional introduction to your webinar. This is where you make your first in-person impression with your audience, so start strong. A well written and well delivered introduction sets the tone for the webinar and establishes you as the expert from the beginning of the session.

Address your audience as a group

Use the singular “you” when addressing the audience. Instead of saying “I wonder if anyone has experienced this?” say “I wonder if you’ve experienced this?” This makes your presentation more personal and direct. Each attendee should have the feeling that you’re speaking directly to him or her.

Forget to vary your tone and pitch

Nothing’s puts your audience to sleep faster than a monotone voice. Change the pitch of your voice and your speed of delivery. On average attendees rate the importance of the presenter’s voice sounding good at 92%. Each small change in your delivery refocuses your audience’s attention on what you’re saying.

Learn 6 easy ways to engage your webinar attendees?

3. Be prepared for the Q & A Period

For many hosts, the question and answer period is the most stressful part of the webinar. But did you know that 92% of attendees find the Q&A portion of the webinar useful?

Don’t underrate the importance of the question and answer segment.

Make sure you’re prepared:

  • Jot down questions you anticipate from attendees, along with appropriate responses. Keep them handy so you can refer to them during the actual webinar.
  • Focus on those questions you hope no one will ask. Chances are someone will ask them, so do your homework and practice the tough ones.
  • Always have prompts ready to ask your audience if they’re too quiet or passive.

Send out a social media blast to registrants before the webinar:

Hosts always fear that no one will stick around for questions. Send out a social media blast asking for registrants to submit their questions before the webinar. You can add some of them into your script or start with them in your question and answer period.

Include the hashtag for that webinar to get them excited and interacting before your presentation even begins!

At the start of your webinar tell attendees that you will have a question and answer period at the end. Point out the question submission box on the GoToWebinar sidebar so that attendees know where to ask for more information or clarity on a subject. By telling them beforehand they’re aware of the post-webinar Q&A and are more likely to submit their questions during the webinar.

When an attendee types in a question on GoToWebinar it’s visible to you as the host and to the person who asked it, but not other attendees. When you answer questions during the live Q&A, make sure to mention the person’s name who asked that question and read out it out to your entire audience.

Some commonly asked questions you will face and how to answer them:
  • “What makes your product unique?” “How is it different from your competitors?”

First of all be knowledgeable about who your competitors are and what they offer. You need to know the similarities you share but most importantly what makes you different. Don’t bash your competitors, be diplomatic in your response. Make them believe you’re the best in your industry.

  • Product and pricing related questions - “What can your product help my business to achieve?” “How much would it cost me to implement this strategy with your product?”

Know your product or service and all of its features like the back of your hand. Be confident in what you offer so that you can convey the value to potential customers. If you sound confident that it will meet their needs, you’ll be more believable and credible.

For pricing questions tell them your starting prices and then refer them to the pricing page of your website. This allows you to be transparent and honest and tells them where to go for more information.

  • Webinar recording questions - “Is this recorded?” “Will this webinar be available on demand?”

Without fail we get asked this question in every webinar we host. Inform your attendees that the webinar is being recorded in your introduction. If someone does ask, respond by telling them that it will be available, and that they will receive an email with a link to the recording for future use. This makes it clear that you will be following up with them, and that the end of your webinar won’t be the end of your relationship.

Helpful Analogy

It’s like when you go on a walking tour in a foreign city. You follow the tour guide around for an hour or two passively listening. Then, at the end of your tour, the guide asks if you have any questions. They also give you suggestions about sites to see or places to eat. This ending interaction is engaging and provides valuable and helpful interactions to tourists. The question and answer period of your webinar represents this stage of the tour.

4. Use GoToWebinar and Be Proactive to Avoid Technical Mishaps

“The reality is that even good webinars run by experienced hosts will occasionally run into errors or technical glitches.” - Beth Hayden, Copyblogger

Webinars seem to be a breeding ground for technical explosions.

But….with the right preparation you can learn from others’ past mistakes and ensure you deliver a flawless presentation.

Webinars are like the weather. You may think you can predict what’s going to happen but it can change in an instant. Once in a while we get stuck out in the rain without an umbrella. With webinars you have to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything.

Pro tip for success:
Have a webinar wingman/wingwoman!

Webinars can be stressful.There are a lot of responsibilities and a lot can go wrong! If possible, recruit a colleague, coworker, or assistant to be your behind-the-scenes person on the webinar.

They can help attendees troubleshoot individual problems with attendees and monitor your Twitter and other social media sites. It’s also nice to have someone there to help in case a problem arises.

Tools you need for a flawless webinar

Why GoToWebinar?

At Wishpond we have tried both browser hosted webinar platforms and GoToWebinar (G2W). We have found Gotowebinar to be the best webinar broadcast and recording platform. It’s stable and easy enough for anyone to use. G2W allows you to host online events with up to 1,000 attendees from around the world.

Neil Patel, online marketer extraordinaire, tested different software tools and found GoToWebinar generated 15-38% more signups than any other tool.

The only potential downside we saw in using GoToWebinar over another provider was that it required a download for attendees. But, it turns out that the download makes the platform far less prone to technical issues.

Want to learn how to host a webinar with GoToWebinar? [Learn how here!])http://corp.wishpond.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/How-to-Make-a-One-Click-SignUp-for-Webinars.pdf)

How to Prevent Webinar Mishaps

When it comes to webinars there are lots of things to remember. We’ve compiled a list of the most common issues we have seen with our past webinars and solutions to prevent them from happening to you. Be proactive and keep these in mind for your next webinar:

Common Problem #1

Audio is funky, cuts in and out

Prevent by…

Use wired internet

Wireless internet is too erratic to use for your webinar. Use the best possible wired connection you can find to deliver a flawless presentation.

Common Problem #2

The microphone may sound scratchy, you get some reverberation or echo, you hear static or beeping in the background.

Prevent by…

Test your audio beforehand.

Set up a trial run and send a colleague or friend a unique link to listen in to see how your mic sounds.

Always use a separate microphone. Built-in laptop mics have more feedback/ aren’t as clear.

Other electronic devices can interfere with your audio so try and keep handheld devices away from your mic and speakers.

Common Problem #3

My computer was slow during the webinar, battery was drained

Prevent by…

Always, always use a power source.

Don’t rely on the battery of your laptop under any circumstance. Chances are it won’t last as long as you think.

Common Problem #4

My G2W emails got sent into spam/ junk folders

Prevent by…

Use a third party program.

At Wishpond we use Zapier. It allows you to connect your various apps and easily move data between them. Zapier acts as a middleman between G2W and your email provider. It takes reminder emails and unique entry link emails from G2W and labels them. Mailchimp, Aweber or another provider then sees that that label and will ensure these emails aren’t put into attendees’ spam folders. To learn how to integrate Zapier with GoToWebinar and Mailchimp here!

Common Problem #5

My screen/ presentation glitched during my webinar

Prevent by…

Have a backup plan.

Have a backup computer ready in case of a malfunction.

Print out your slides ahead of time. If your presentation glitches or the connection is lost you can continue reading out the content

Common Problem #6

When in full screen mode I cannot see my cursor during my presentation

Prevent by…

Use an extra computer monitor.

Have an extra computer monitor setup next to the computer you’re presenting on. Sign up for your webinar with another email and have it playing on the extra monitor. This allows you to see exactly where your cursor is and gives you an outsider’s perspective of your webinar.

Common Problem #7

My webinar didn’t record

Prevent by…

When you are ready to begin recording, click Start Recording in the control panel. All screen activity that is presented in the GoToWebinar Viewer will be captured.Click Stop Recording to pause or stop recording completely

Common Problem #8

I can’t find my webinar recording on my computer

Prevent by…

It will be saved into your “Downloads” unless you specify otherwise in “Settings” next to the record button.

Once your webinar is complete, click “Convert Recording.” It will save directly onto your computer into your downloads folder. If you can’t see it, search the name of your webinar in your downloads folder.

Common Problem #9

I left my webinar trial run to the last minute and don’t have enough time to understand it and practice

Prevent by…

You should get used to using the webinar software weeks in advance of the real presentation. Complete your powerpoint or keynote slides and start doing trial runs with your script. It’s very easy to pick out a prepared presenter from one who hasn’t taken the time to make the webinar as seamless as possible. Test every possible stage of the webinar process until it is perfect.

Pro Tips
  • Turn off any instant-messaging applications, notifications software, or other programs that may interrupt or distract attendees during the webinar. It will seem unprofessional if there are icons or messages popping up on your screen.
  • Adjust display settings to a mid-range resolution (e.g., 1024 x 768). This is the optimal setting for recording a webinar in G2W.
  • Set the desktop display to a neutral background. Tidy up any files or icons in case you’re forced to close your window and have your desktop shown to your audience.
  • Clear your browsing history and close all other browser tabs. Your audience doesn’t need to know your web history or see any personal passwords or information.
  • Sign in about 15 minutes early. As attendees start to arrive say hello and tell them you will be starting shortly. Check in again with attendees 10 and 5 minutes before starting. This makes them feel comfortable that they’re in the right place and personalizes their experience.

Conclusion

Preparation makes all the difference when it comes to webinars. Follow this 3 step formula and create the stunning webinar your audience deserves.

Now it’s time for you to prepare for your next webinar!

Use the tutorials and resources below to get ready for your presentation.

Resources