7 Video Conferencing Tips For A Great Webinar
Like much of the working world, you probably find yourself doing more and more business online. You’re meeting with colleagues and clients, making sales pitches, and even attending training through some sort of digital video platform.
While the move toward digital transformation was already well underway, the recent global pandemic sped up the need for remote working options. Training events were no exception and inevitably followed suit as organizations turned to web solutions.
Whether you’re working with web conferencing (one-way training like webinars) or video conferencing (interactive online meetings), this change has clear upsides: Virtual events eliminate barriers like time and cost. They also make it easier to reach more employees and remote participants. However, moving to an online environment also presents some unique challenges.
Overcoming The Challenges Of Remote Training
Keeping your audience’s attention and effectively conveying your message takes a strong set of skills in live, in-person training sessions. Video and web conferencing require a slightly different skillset. Your efforts need to serve attendees sitting alone in their own environments, battling individual distractions and the onset of Zoom fatigue.
Remote learners are juggling the demands of family members and pets who share their workspace and the temptations inherent in being online. You’re dealing with multitasking at its most distracting as people simultaneously tune in and clean out inboxes, surf open tabs, or jump on quick chats in the background. With all that competition, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re not getting 100 percent of your audience’s attention.
Connection and engagement are the keys to keeping a virtual audience focused and learning. To successfully share your information in a way that gets heard, you need to know how to address their unique challenges.
The following 7 video conferencing tips will help you prepare, present, and perfect your online training experiences.
7 Tips For Video Conferencing Success
1. Set Up For Optimal Presentation
Being on-screen is more impersonal than being in the room, and it’s hard to create the same rapport with your audience. However, you can take steps to minimize off-putting “talking head” effects.
Take the time to analyze and adjust your setup. Note how things like camera angle and lighting affect the experience. Do you look imposing? Is the setup too dark or too washed out? Is your background distracting? See how it affects the visual dynamic when you present from standing vs. sitting.
2. Understand Your Tech
One of the first video conferencing or webinar tips you should embrace is to know how to use your software. There are many dynamic platforms out there for hosting online interactions. Once you’ve carefully vetted and chosen your platform, learn the practical features. Make sure you know how to do things like turn your camera off and on, mute and unmute yourself and participants, share your screen, and play videos.
Having a working understanding of these features eliminates any awkward moments during training. It also ensures you’ll be ready to troubleshoot if something goes wrong or someone needs help.
3. Use Platform Features To Boost Engagement
Making sure participants engage with your presentation is another big challenge in a virtual environment. This is a good opportunity to put your platform’s additional features to good use. Most web conferencing software has integrated tools for interaction. Build these tools into your training to keep people’s attention. For example:
- Run real-time polls and surveys to get the audience thinking about your topic and make it personal.
- Use the chat feature so participants can ask questions and provide helpful comments.
- For larger groups, use breakout rooms that divide participants into smaller groups for in-depth discussions and separate activities.
4. Encourage Audience Participation
Help people overcome the sense of isolation remote conferencing can have by building frequent interactions into your session. When your audience has to do something, they’re going to pay attention, and they’re going to get more out of the experience.
Stimulate discussion by asking questions. Let people know upfront that this will be an open discussion and encourage responses. Have audience members use the raise hand feature, or for smaller groups, call on people by name.
Alternately, pose a question on the screen and have people respond in chat. In large groups, this allows more people to participate. It also helps you read the room and respond to what people are thinking.
Besides discussions and Q&A sessions during the presentation, prepare some activities that get people working together. Add role-playing exercises or small brainstorming sessions to your agenda. With larger groups, you can use the breakout features to let participants work in smaller groups, then bring the larger group back together to debrief.
5. Use Visuals To Create A Connection
Strong visuals make quick impressions and create emotional connections for your audience. Make sure slides are designed to draw attention. Use large images and less text to make them engaging.
Try varying the type of media you’re presenting. Talking heads and static slides are only engaging for so long. Switch it up by including relevant videos or infographics.
Also, you might consider more frequent transitions than you’d use in in-person training. Motion draws attention away from other distractions. Introduce visual change by switching between talking to your camera and sharing your screen. Add more movement by moving between slides more frequently, adding animation, or using a virtual whiteboard feature to point out specific info on a slide or explain a concept.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
The more familiar you are with your webinar or conference material and technology, the more smoothly the actual session will go. Practicing is key. Be comfortable navigating the presentation and making transitions.
Practicing how you come across on screen is also important to a strong presentation. Consider recording a run-through in advance. Play it back and look for places to improve engagement. How’s the pacing? Is your tone encouraging and energetic? Are you looking at your audience enough or spending too much time staring at your notes?
7. Work With Attention Spans
One of the best ways to ensure you keep your learners’ attention is to plan for realistic attention spans. Keep your content focused. Don’t try to put everything into one presentation.
Similarly, don’t put too much info on one slide. Making visuals text-heavy or including interesting but only vaguely relevant information can weigh your training down. Make sure your content is focused on the main objective.
Lastly, be respectful of people’s time. Plan for the amount of time you actually need to get your info across. Could your webinar be 40 minutes long instead of an hour? Are you prepared to begin and end your conference precisely when you told people you would? Running on time eliminates the anxiety and distraction participants feel when they worry you’ll encroach on other priorities in their schedule.
Video conferences and webinars require a skillset unique from general training. You’re competing with a distinct set of distractions, and virtual environments can be isolating and make engagement more difficult. But the right approach can eliminate much of the difficulty.
Incorporating these video conferencing tips can create a good foundation for successfully presenting to your remote audience. And as you refine your online training skills, set yourself up for continual improvement. Consider gathering feedback from participants to see where improvement is possible. Run surveys or polls after a session and pay attention to what’s working and what’s not being received so well. Then, adjust your presentations accordingly.
With the right preparation and follow-up, you’ll be prepared to make the most out of your online training and to provide learners the best possible experience.