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How to give a webinar (and not look like an idiot)

Denise Persson | Feb. 20, 2009
Many people would rather visit the dentist or pay taxes than speak publicly.

It also means that you can develop poise as well as technical knowledge. You'll realize that when you're nervous, you, say, fiddle with your hair. This will teach you to tie your hair back, so that you can't drive the participants crazy. You want them to put their attention on your brilliant technical presentation, not staring at you pulling on your bangs and wondering if they're going to come off.

This gives you the opportunity to fine tune your material and catch any potential problems with the webcasting solution you're using. We're not saying that technology breaks at the worst possible moment, but, you don't want people to watch you twist volume knobs and adjust screen displays. Learn how the software works--when nobody is watching. You don't want your audience to hear you say, "Hmm, what happens when I push this button," and watch it all go black. (Oops.) Do your homework, too, concerning use of third-party technologies. For example, find out if your webinar solution requires attendees to download the provider's software. Imagine the plight of the webinar organizer who either forgets to check or doesn't think it's important, only to discover that she just spent US$20K on a webinar that a fourth of the registrants couldn't attend because their company firewalls prevented software downloads.

Day of the Webinar: Save Your Sanity

You might be nervous, but at the very least you can be prepared. Use this checklist:

-- Wear clothing with a neutral or soft color or with a soft pattern, as pastel colors are the easiest for the viewer to see. Also, bright colors can "ghost" and make it appear that your shirt is following you when you move around. Avoid red--it typically "bleeds," which can result in a fuzzy look around the edges. Avoid white--it makes it difficult for the camera operator to get good color contrast. This is similar to what happens when you try to take photos in the snow or on a beach.

-- A shirt or a tie with thin vertical stripes will give off a distracting wavy pattern with even the slightest movement.

-- During your presentation, you should talk to the camera. Avoid looking around or at anyone else who might be watching.

-- During the Q&A, talk to the person who is posing the questions, not to the camera.

-- During the webinar, plant yourself in one place as if you were nailed down. Try not to move excessively, shift your weight, or shuffle your feet. If you are seated at a desk, do not tap your pen on the desktop. And if you're standing, don't play with the loose change in your pocket.


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