While there is certainly a place for slides in a webinar, i.e., when teaching content or when outlining what’s included in an offer, when we have all of our notes in front of us and are hiding behind our computer screens we often forget to tell stories and actually be human with our audiences. We forget that we are center stage, so even if we do tell stories, rarely are we masterfully engaging our people.
How can we refresh (and reinvigorate) our webinar performance habits?
Spend more time on camera – especially when telling stories to our audiences.
Before people decide to invest with you, they want proof that you know your stuff (which is hard to demonstrate when people can’t see you.) They want evidence that you are a charismatic speaker and teacher. They want to see that you can facilitate transformational learning. And above all else, they want to make sure you are fun and engaging.
Because they know that no matter how great your content, if you don’t engage them they are not going to show up and do your program.
While many live webinar presenters will come on camera at the end of their presentation when doing Q+A with their audience, I encourage you to open on camera, introduce yourself, and tell your story.
Let your audience members look directly into your eyes, see your heart, and develop trust and rapport with you.
When speaking virtually, there are 3 things to pay particular attention to with your storytelling.
- Let your upper body tell the story that your lower body cannot.
When you are in front of a live audience, a lot of storytelling happens from the neck down. When you are leading a webinar, however, you are usually limited to your face, neck, arms, shoulders and hands. So use them! Use your hands to bring your message from your heart to your audience. Literally. And communicate the emotion behind your words with your eyes, with your cheeks, and with the shape of your mouth.
- Be very intentional about vocal variety.
Stories come to life through a speaker’s pitch, tone, volume and especially rate of delivery. As you rehearse, aloud, practice using your voice to pitch up when asking a question. Slow down when you want to communicate something particularly important. Hold silence after delivering something emotional. If inserting some humor, practice speeding up. Speakers need to know their beats, just like actors do!
- Build in time to speak with your audience.
Unlike a traditional presentation where most if not all Q+A happens at the end, if you are telling a story on camera, end by asking questions of your participants that let them personalize the message of your story.
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