Guest blog post by Joy Wingert, Knowledge & Education Specialist at a2z, Inc.
Teaching online can present a number of challenges. How does one connect with the audience and understand what information they need? How does one get and hold their attention?
First, know your tool. There are a lot of webinar tools available online, so get to know yours. GoToMeeting has options for drawing on the screen with highlighter, marker, or pen tools. Using tools while presenting can help your audience connect with you, and focus their attention right where you want it. Attend a ‘how-to’ course for your preferred tool, or read their documentation.
Identify your audience. I present webinars aimed at people who are new to a2z software, as well as to those who have used the software for years. Before presenting, I spend some time understanding my webinar attendees’ level of experience with our software.
Next, write (or rewrite) your presentation with your audience in mind. Are you talking to highly technical people? Use the right words (the right way) to connect with them. Are you training new employees? Use as little in-house jargon as possible, and define it when you do use it. Once you know the type of people you will be presenting to, you can tailor your words, phrases, and even pacing to fit their unique set of needs.
Choose the right way to advertise. Is the presentation intended for just anyone who wanders in? Should only a select few people attend? Large scale email campaigns, a few personal emails, and a form on your website are all great options – choose one will get you the people you want.
Get some pre-webinar feedback. Add a few questions to the sign up form to get a better feel for your audience. This gives you a chance to tweak your presentation before show time, and add some personal touches that will help your audience connect with you.
Have a checklist. Write a list of all the things that need to be done before you present, and check them off as you complete them. This step seems small, but it will help you feel confident and prepared.
Use your Webcam (if appropriate). Some people really like to know that there is a live human being on the other side. If it is appropriate for your content and presentation style, go ahead and show them your smiling face. It may be a good idea to practice presenting with the webcam on before you do this live the first time.
Have a pre-webinar ritual. Take a walk, sip some tea, do some yoga, play a game… whatever gets you ready to go. I like a walk and some stretches to get me settled and ready to talk for an hour.
Contact Information and Follow up. Give the audience a way to ask questions after the webinar is over. Twitter, Facebook, email, LinkedIn, G+, or your website – all are great options. Did you promise some documents, links, a recording of the webinar, or other information? Send it out in a timely fashion, 24 hours to a week after the webinar is your prime time.