Interruptions, awkward camera angles, and background noises are all indications that you’re an amateur webinar presenter. Polish up your act by doing these 10 things first, to ensure you’re viewed as a professional (and asked to speak again!).
1. Use headphones
Most webinar tools allow you to connect via a telephone or VOIP. Using headphones helps minimize background noise, ensure your voice is heard clearly, and reduces the possibility of audio-feedback. I was once on a program where the busy street traffic and police sirens could be overheard on the speaker’s phone line… don’t be that person.
2. Close the door
You’re giving a presentation, and therefore it’s obvious that you find a quiet place to present. If you’re in your office, a space in your home, or a shared conference room, simply close the door. This is an indicator that you’re busy and shouldn’t be interrupted. Better yet, put a physical “Do Not Disturb, Recording in Progress” sign on your door to alert those nearby to keep their voices and potential disturbances to a minimum.
3. Put your phone on DND
Often overlooked are potential distractions from incoming calls and the occasional office page. Turn on the Do Not Disturb setting on your phone, which will both mute your office ringtone and disable others from being able to interrupt your phone line. Yes, I have been in a program before where the presenter’s phone line was automatically put “on hold” due to an incoming call into their line, triggering the dreadful “hold music” across the airwaves and therefore derailing the entire presentation.
4. Turn off pop-up notifications and alerts
These usually important attention getters will become points of frustration for you during a webinar. If you’re sharing your computer screen, it will become increasingly frustrating (as well as embarrassing) anytime an alert or pop-up comes through on your device, visible to all participants. Common ones to silence include: incoming email notifications and previews, in-office chats, text messages (if your cell is connected to your laptop), and calendar/task reminders. Not to mention, these also make distracting noises.
5. Mute your computer speakers
Again, this is an example of muting any device that may potentially disrupt your presentation unintentionally. Muting your computer speakers is a sure bet that you’ll minimize distractions (perhaps even from an unintended alert you forgot to turn off? See #4). Also, if you’re connecting to the audio line via VOIP through a headset plugged into your laptop, muting your computer speakers may also reduce the potential for audio feedback.
6. Charge all batteries
Again, it seems obvious, but when your mind is concentrated on preparing the content for your presentation, the obvious is commonly overlooked. Is your laptop charged or plugged in? Are you connecting via a cell, is it also fully charged? What about a computer mouse… usually used as your slide advancer. Yes, I have been on a webinar before when the presenter’s mouse batteries literally died during the webinar. Simply put in a fresh set beforehand and you’ll be assured you’re good to go.
7. Have water available
You’ll be speaking a lot. Keep your voice clear and drink plenty of water. Enough said.
8. Install updates and plug-ins in advance
Is your laptop scheduled to automatically install system updates? Does your webinar platform require a plug-in (lots do)? These updates and installs may be routine, but, if they’re prompted right before you’re set to speak, could put you off balance and render your device temporarily unavailable. Nothing’s worse then watching the dreadful “Updates in progress, this could take a while” notification take over your computer.
9. Print out a hard-copy of your slides or notes
In the event that something unexpected happens, it’s important to have a printed copy of your speaking points in front of you. I also use this paper copy to jot down notes, perhaps of something interesting that a prior speaker said that was worth mentioning again. Having a hard-copy of your materials is a simple way to ensure you’ll be prepared. One time during a presentation I accidentally bumped my desk and knocked the wire loose from the computer docking station to the external monitor. My screen went black while I was on the air. I continued presenting from my printed notes, and at the next break for Q/A, I promptly plugged the cord back into the dock. No one was the wiser, but see how this could have escaladed quickly?
10. Preview your camera shot
Check in advance to find out if the webinar will be featuring video feeds of the presenters. If yes, use a website like this to test out your camera shot before you go live. Things to check: your personal appearance (do your hair, make-up, sit up straight, and wear appropriate attire), lighting (you’ll want centered front-lit lighting which could be accomplished by repositioning a desk lamp and closing the curtains), camera angle (lens should look slightly down on you, which may require raising your laptop on a few books), what’s in your background (a blank wall with minimal distractions is best). This video demonstrates how to look good on webcam.
Presenting on a webinar has similarities to speaking live on stage. Both require quality audio, technology, and the reduction of distractions and interruptions. Use these steps as a guideline the next time you present on a webinar. What other tips and suggestions do you have? Share in the comments below!