I love facilitating learning! Workshops, conference sessions, one-on-one, it’s always a privilege to be able to facilitate learning for others and to share information. One way for sharing that is becoming very common is webinars. Webinars are great for minimizing the challenges of time, distance, and money, but are challenging in terms of having the opportunity to engage with learners/listeners. I have had moments as a webinar speaker reminiscent of moments when you are speaking on a telephone and you suddenly wonder if anyone is on the other end listening. Although this training medium has many advantages, it can feel very empty and difficult at times to feel connected to listeners. The reality is that webinars are only going to become more prevalent, so if you love facilitating learning like I do, it’s important to polish your skills and get good at it. I recently had an opportunity to be a speaker for a national virtual conference and after the fact was asked to put together some tips for other webinar presenters on how to effectively use the webcam. It was a nice compliment to be asked. I thought I’d share these tips on my blog as well. Here are some thoughts that come to mind:
1. Practise. Practise your presentation for timing. Record it, and watch it.
2. Test. Test your webcam and test your sound before the webinar begins. If you are using a USB headset for VOIP, test that you can hear, and be heard. If you are using the phone for dial-in, make sure your phone has a headset so you do not have to hold the phone while on camera.
3. View. During your test look at what is behind you. Position yourself and the webcam so that behind you is a sight that is appealing to viewers. Tidy any clutter.
4. Position. If the webcam is attached via USB and it is movable, position it above the video image of yourself on the screen. That way when you are looking at the video of yourself, you are as close as possible to making eye contact with viewers. Ideally you look at the webcam when speaking rather than the image of yourself, but this is hard to do. If you can align them as close as possible, it will make it easier.
5. Notes. If you have notes, position them in a way that you can spend minimal time looking down or flipping pages.
6. Smile and be engaging. As a facilitator it is challenging to look at the screen and not see people looking back at you. It feels void of emotion. It’s up to you to breathe life into the webinar with your facial expressions and tone of voice.
7. Ask questions. Use the ‘raise hand’ or ‘poll’ options. If you interact with the audience you will be more likely to be yourself in front of the camera.
Most of all, relax and enjoy the opportunity to share information about the topic at hand. Imagine listeners/viewers who are eagerly waiting to hear your message, and who want you to be yourself.
Sandra McDowell, MA, PCC
Author Sandra McDowell is a Certified Executive Coach with a Masters in Leadership and a Certificate in NeuroLeadership, and Vice-President Communications & Culture for First Credit Union & Insurance.