Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
Planes, trains and automobiles, we’re all getting tired of traveling for every meeting and workshop, so webinars and teleconferences are becoming more common. I, myself lead a webinar this afternoon for the Association of Women in Communications on media interview preparation. We focused specifically, on ambush, walk and talk, and impromptu interviews. You know the kind of interviews where someone stops you on the street, or throws a camera in your face just after you walk off stage from making a speech, or leave a hearing room when testifying in front of lawmakers. Whatever the scenario, if you’re a newsmaker, there’s no such thing as an ambush or impromptu interview. Be ready at all times.
Having said that, let’s get back to the original point: conducting a winning webinar. There are three things you need to manage: time, message, and media. Let’s start with your time. Webinars aren’t like meetings. They have a formal start, and hard stop, which means you need to practice more than once. I actually practiced seven times, to ensure I ended with enough time for questions. I had to drop a slide after my third practice run, just to ensure that anyone who wanted to ask a question, could.
Practicing your message sounds simple enough, but a lot of facilitators lose themselves in tangents, add-on points, and “one more thing.” Knowing your three most important messages are essential for sticking to your time limit, and using only relevant examples to illustrate your points. You can watch the clock and trim slides or comments along the way, if you’re running long, and go back and incorporate those skipped points into your Q&A session.
Finally, practice working with your media. Today I had to go from PowerPoint to interview clips on YouTube. I practiced minimizing and maximizing screens, adjusting audio, and pulling the presentation back up to resume the slide show where I left off. While I practiced timing and messages seven times, I practiced working with the technology several more times. I have only seen one presenter work web links and clips into a presentation without glitches. Trying to get too technical can backfire. When leading a webinar, go for function and message support, not glitz and flash. Yes, of course your material should look appealing and your content interesting, but it won’t mean anything if you have to fiddle with things during your presentation or keep making excuses to your audience about why things aren’t working, or how they worked during your practice session.
Leading a webinar can be a fun and interactive experience. If you have access to polls, chats, and give your participants something to tweet about while they’re listening, you have the potential for a very successful and engaging event for you and your participants. Remember these key points and may all of your communications be good ones! (#WCMedia)
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