What 75+ Webinars Taught Me About Delivering Online Presentations For The New World Of Work
As 2021 arrived, I reached 50 – not 50 in age. Since the start of Covid, I had delivered 50 virtual keynotes, webinars and interviews. When my live public speaking gigs came to a screeching halt, I found myself doing a lot of virtual presentations for my clients. I’ve also attended a lot of webinars. With all those hours I was saving now that my constant airline commute was grounded, I decided to put my learning junkie into high gear, signing up for a variety of virtual sessions. After delivering 50+ and attending 25+ online presentations, I distilled what I learned from being on both sides of the screen. I also met with Broadway producers, studied Netflix’s most bingeable series, talked to marketing geniuses and spent hours critiquing what I saw on YouTube. I share what I’ve gleaned here to help you bolster your personal brand as you create and deliver webinars and online presentations in the new world of work.
MAKE IT STAND OUT
Sizzle from the start. Even after the return to the office, you’ll still be spending a lot of time on Zoom. To counteract Zoom disdain,make the initial interaction with your presentation unexpected, provocative, intriguing, calming, exciting (add your adjective here). I’ve been experimenting with various fun videos, TV ads (yes, TV ads, I’m a collector of them and some can really set a mood), countdown timers and personal welcome messages to participants. Thanks to the cognitive bias called primacy, first impressions last. So nail the kick-off and you’ll have your audience primed to participate.
Know your role. You are not a participant, so don’t act like one.Delivering your presentation seated might be right for a one-on-one meeting with a colleague or client, but not for your online presentation—where your goal is to inspire, educate and compel. Stand up to stand out. Your stance signals that you’re about to offer something different.
Ban the bullets. If your slides are boring bulleted lists, you’re doomed. Replace the 26 letters of the alphabet with rich media to create visual appeal and to deliver a magnetic communication. If you must use words, use a font size of 36 points or greater so people can actually read them on their mobile device. It will also help you keep to 12 or fewer words per slide (try for fewer!).
MAKE IT STICKY
Don’t fight the wrong battle. Everyone is so focused on shortening attention spans, they’re making their presentations brief but inadvertently making them boring. Banal. Bland. Sure, attention spans are waning, but you still make time to watch an entire season of “Bridgerton” in one sitting, right? When you create for short attention spans, what you remove is the gorilla glue of online presentations—the nonessential stuff that’s truly fun. Instead, fight your real nemesis—the false mindset that “I’m good at multitasking.” Only 2.5% of us have brains that are wired to allow for multitasking. When your audience is sitting on their living room sofa or makeshift home office, the temptation to multitask can be too great to ignore. To counteract this, focus on amplifying the fun, not cutting to the chase.
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Seek to surprise. Surprises can come in many forms: an unexpected guest, or switching from live to recorded video, or coming back from a breakout dressed in a different shirt or standing in front of a different setting. Use the element of surprise to keep your participants on their toes and out of all the other tempting apps running on their devices.
Inject a pattern interrupt.According to NLP Mentor, “Autopilot means our brains have become so efficient at doing something we can tune out our conscious minds.” To keep your audience tuned it, you need to do something to break the monotony—a pattern interrupt. One of the easiest ways to add pattern interrupt is to use an interstitial like an animated gif between two topics or thoughts.
Create a curiosity chasm. Netflix knows that you’ll keep bingeing on their shows when they create enough intrigue. A curiosity chasm is the space between what you know and what you want to know. When you create anticipation, you keep people glued because they’re eager to know what happens.
MAKE IT MEMORABLE
Don’t pontificate. Give your audience questions to ponder, exercises to complete and polls to contribute so to they remain connected. And when you include breakouts where audience members can work together, not only do you keep their attention, you help them connect with each other. Even a 30-minute presentation has room for some interaction.
Tell stories. Enough with the facts, stats, lists and data. Replace them with stories to draw your audience in and keep them connected. It will also make your message unforgettable. Dan Pink says, “Stories are easier to remember because they are how we remember.” Stories engage both halves of the brain, creating synapses between them—making what you say meaningful and memorable. Nested stories (stories within stories) heighten the intrigue, increasing stickiness.
Repeat yourself. Hermann Ebbinghaus and his work on the forgetting curve taught us that without repetition, most of what we learn, we forget. Repetition is key. One simple way to use repetition is thousands of years old—Aristotle’s triptych. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.
Even in a post-Covid world, many of your presentations will be delivered online. It’s time to broadcast your skills and stand out from others so you can showcase your strong and enviable personal brand in the digital world.