9 Tips to Hosting an Engaging Webinar that Breaks through Zoom Fatigue
October 22, 2020
Author: Christine Organ
You have valuable information to share, and you have people who want to hear it. But how do you take a virtual presentation – whether a webinar, roundtable, or conference – from conception to completion? And more importantly, how do you make sure that your virtual presentation fosters connection, builds relationships, and actually adds value?
Let’s face it, we’re all a little “zoomed” out right now. We’ve been communicating with our computer screens for nearly eight months now, and while we’ve gotten more comfortable working remotely, with comfort can also come stagnation. Instead of relying on your usual bag of tricks when delivering an online presentation, shake things up a bit. Here are few ways you can do this while also showcasing your expertise.
Get people involved.
Folks are suffering from a bit of “Zoom fatigue” these days, so it’s helpful to find new ways to get your audience engaged. Ask questions. Enlist a colleague to start the discussion. Keep folks engaged by breaking up your presentation between slides, live presentation, and pre-recorded video content. For instance, you could use a clip from The Office in your “what not to do HR presentation,” or find a relevant TED talk to include in the presentation. You can also add in live interaction by introducing Poll Everywhere to create live polls, Quizzes, Q&A sessions, word clouds and more.
Get (a little) personal.
The pandemic has blurred the lines between our professional and personal lives. Instead of pretending that things are “business as usual,” lean into the strangeness of these times. For instance, you could let folks know upfront that you are delivering the presentation from your walk-in closet or ask attendees to share one word that describes their current work environment. Instead of fighting to maintain strict professionalism, get a little personal – within reason, of course.
Don’t forget about chat boxes.
Some attendees may feel more comfortable asking questions in the chat box. If possible, partner up with another presenter and you can each monitor the chat box while the other is presenting.
Pretend you're somewhere else.
No, we don’t mean pretending you’re on the beach in Bali, but instead use the backgrounds offered by Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other platforms to create a unique background for the presentation. If you’re hosting a webinar, you could use a company-created background with a logo or other branding. If you’re hosting a fundraising event, consider using a background that fits into the theme of the event, and encourage others to do the same. One caveat, however: if the content requires significant focus, it’s best to use a non-distracting background.
Take a page from Hollywood.
What makes celebs look so fabulous all the time? Lighting of course! You can find reasonably priced lighting options that plug right into your computer. That way you can avoid looking like a shadow while giving your presentation (unless it’s a virtual Halloween party and this is the look you’re going for).
Consider sending a pre- or post-event gift.
If your budget allows, you could send attendees a small gift before or after the presentation. There are plenty of creative ways to connect the gift to the content of the presentation and having a tangible takeway object will help keep you and the information you shared top of mind even after the Zoom cameras have been turned off.
Practice, practice, practice.
Presenting online can be unsettling for many of us. Where do we look? How do we avoid giving everyone an up-close look at our forehead? What in the world do we do with our hands? And does that little image of ourselves ever get any less distracting?
The key is pretty simple actually: PRACTICE. Then practice some more.
Make sure the framing, lighting and sound are ideal. You can enlist a colleague or a friend to participate in a mock presentation to make sure aren’t zoomed in too close or that you don’t sound like you’re giving the presentation from inside a long tunnel. It isn’t flashy or easy, but practice really does help.
This is easier said than done, but it may be helpful to imagine that you are sharing this information with a good friend or a colleague who is sitting across the desk from you.
When in doubt, ask for help.
The amount of resources available to help you – whether it’s technology or marketing – is vast. Use the available tools and sources of information to make your job a little easier.