Doing your first webinar can be nerve-wracking. There’s a lot to consider, from what to include in your content to how to interact with your audience. The biggest worry that first-time webinar hosts have is that they’ll forget something – technology, data, or slides – that is key to the success of the webinar.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend 6 sharpening my axe.” What he meant was that preparation gets results. When you prepare well for a big event, there’s less to worry about because you’ve already thought of it. Coming into your webinar prepared will increase the odds of your webinar’s success. Here are six tips for first-time webinar hosts to calm their nerves.
Test, Test, and Test Again
Technology can and will go wrong if you don’t take steps to properly set up beforehand. To reduce the chance that technology will fail you mid-webinar, get on top of it by testing everything out several days in advance of the webinar. Use the exact same equipment, from the laptop down to the cables, that you plan to use for the real thing. Equally important: don’t go into the webinar with any technology you haven’t used before. It will only cause you problems.
Slow It Down
Many of us start talking quickly when we’re nervous. It’s as if we’re so shaken that we think if we talk faster, it will be over sooner. But you want to savor the moment. Enjoy the process of presenting to a captive audience. If you talk too fast, the message will be lost on them. Talk at a steady pace, with natural pauses and deliberate emphasis.
Write Yourself a Note
Presenting a webinar is like starring in a movie you also have to direct. There will be times during the webinar when you’ll need to do certain things, like move to the next slide, bring up a website, or talk about a certain case study. You have a lot to remember, so giving yourself a subtle reminder couldn’t hurt. Leaving post-it notes on or around the computer you’re presenting from, or making a short bulleted list in timing order, are good ways to keep yourself on cue.
Don’t Be Too Scripted
Writing out a script can be incredibly helpful for certain parts of your webinar. If you need to cite specific facts that you don’t want to leave out, or have a very exact way you want to phrase something, then a script will come in handy. However, your entire presentation shouldn’t be scripted. In fact, most of it should feature you speaking naturally from memory, or you risk sounding monotonous and losing touch with your audience. Your notes and slides will serve as your prompts. Keep the scripting to a minimum.
Go Through the Motions
This tip is crucial to having your webinar go off without a hitch. You absolutely must practice the entire presentation all the way through – preferably multiple times and in front of an audience. Doing a run-through with other people present will allow you to solicit their feedback and shake off some of your presentation jitters. While it might seem tedious, there’s nothing better you could be doing with your time.
Expect the Unexpected
Webinars are kind of like weddings. Even if you plan it out perfectly, something is bound to go wrong. How big that thing is depends largely on the effort you put into preparation. A little snag can be expected, but you can laugh those off. A big snafu can usually be avoided if you’ve done the work to keep things under control. Come prepared, and your big day will be one to remember.