I recently started taking classes in body alignment at a fabulous place called the Restorative Exercise Institute (REI). If you happen to live in or around Ventura, California, you should check it out. If you don't live in the area, the owner, Katy Bowman, also runs a blog called katysays.com. There are literally hours of fascinating reading posted there. It is definitely worth a look.
I'm sure by now you are wondering what this information has to do with running high performance virtual training or winning webinars, so allow me to explain. Last night, I was doing the requisite laps around the REI building during a circuit training class, and while I was speed walking, I saw the most exquisite standing work station set-up. Now THAT is what I need! All my alignment problems would be solved- well at least some of them! And then it hit me! Good alignment and effective virtual presentation skills actually intersect! This is to say that if you want to be well aligned and reap all of the great health benefits, it would do you well to set up a standing workstation. An added bonus is that your presentation skills would experience the same bump in health. That's right. Many of the best online presenters actually stand and deliver. If you record two online presentation, one with you sitting and one where you are standing, you will hear the difference in the power of your voice and the impact on your listeners. Try it. I did!
Looking for more great ways to improve virtual delivery? Here are my top five tips:
- Stand and deliver: Stand while you deliver your webinars or online trainings. I know we've already discussed this, but let me add that a good headset with a long tether will go a long way in making this strategy work for you. Also be mindful not to pull the plug on your head set or jar your phone so that it hangs up your call-- assuming you are dialing in to a conference. Some presenters go as far as rubber banding their headset to the phone to avoid this very problem.
- Gesturing is a good thing: Don't be embarrassed to use gestures just as you would in a live event. Gestures help you pause at the right time and add emphasis to your delivery.
- Never skip the sound check: Position your microphone carefully to avoid heavy breathing or sounding like you are presenting in a tunnel. A quick test recording or a microphone check with a co-worker can help diagnose any sound issues ahead of the live event. I recommend a sound check each and every time you present. I swear there are gremlins messing with my headset from time to time, and it just doesn't work the way it did the day before or even an hour before.
- Be real: Talk with your attendees rather than to them. Stop periodically to ask questions, share a story or ask for their input. Attendees are looking for a way to connect. If you don't connect with them, they will tune you out almost immediately. And whatever you do, avoid the temptation to read from a script. Unless you are a very skilled teleprompter type, your audience will see right through it and prepare for a snooze fest.
- Practice makes better: Last but definitely not least… practice, practice, practice! I risk being repetitious, but nothing improves delivery more than practice. I strongly recommend audio recording a practice session so that you can be on the look out for ums, ahs and other distracting crutch phrases. Crutch phrases are distracting during a live event, but they are even more distracting during an online event as your voice has an even more powerful role.
Presenting online may seem intimidating at first, but with practice, you WILL get the hang of it. And just think... that old public speaking trick to help keep your nerves in check, where you imagine your audience are all sitting in their bathrobes... well in the online forum, it might actually be true!