Presentation Tips: How to Run a Webinar Your Audience Will Love

Get Equipment for Your Webinar

Choose screen recording software

Before you can launching your webinar, you need to record it. That means capturing

  • the slides
  • video of you presenting
  • audio of you presenting

My favorite Mac screen casting software is Screenflow. It’s easy to use and costs $129 for a perpetual license. Raelyn Tan has a short and helpful article that will get you started editing with Screenflow in no time.

If you’re on a Windows computer, Camtasia is a great option. (It also works on Mac.) Camtasia costs $249 for a perpetual license.

Screencast-O-Matic is another popular recording software. It works on Mac and Windows computers, but it doesn’t have multi-track editing capabilities. (For many video editors, that’s a deal breaker.) The biggest advantage of Screencast-O-Matic is that it offers an extremely affordable $18/year plan to use the software.

Prepare to record your face

Most screen casting software has an option to show your face in the lower right corner of the screen. I highly recommend using this so that you can build a personal connection with your audience.

Play Video

Be sure to look straight into the camera. Since computer cameras are usually positioned above computer screens, so as long as you look at the upper third of your computer screen (and toward the center of the screen), your eyeline should look good in the final video.

Use a good microphone

A lavalier lapel microphone is the least expensive way to get quality audio.

Paladou sells the most popular lavalier lapel microphone on Amazon for less than $20. If you’re still using your computer’s microphone, order one now so it can arrive as soon as possible.

It’s a great investment for your webinar and any professional recordings you ever need to make.

If you’re looking for a step-up, YouTubers swear by the Rode smartLav+ omnidirectional lavalier microphone, which costs $65. It’s a versatile microphone that you can use sitting at your desk or outside filming videos.

Blue Yeti is another microphone worth mentioning, but it can only be used while seated at your desk and usually costs around $120.

If you’re not sure what to get, start with the $20 Paladou. It’s vastly better than using audio captured from your computer. You can always upgrade again later.

Set up your scene

I recommend shooting in a real location, like your office, rather than against a plain backdrop. This approach creates more visual interest and makes you look more authentic.

Most people are going to find a minimalist desk and environment more inviting than a dark cluttered environment. So move any papers, tissue boxes, personal items, and hardware from your desk and try turning on some lights in your room.

Lastly, it’s time to light up your face. The most photography basic rule I have is to make your face brighter than the background. You can do this with natural light or by positioning a soft light near your computer. For best results, you’ll want your main light source to come from the front / side direction.

For a more advanced tips on studio and lighting setup, check out Kevin Shen’s tutorials on setting up a custom YouTube studio and lighting your videos.

Rehearse

TED speaking coaches recommend rehearsing from start to finish at least 10 times. Different viral speakers have acknowledged practicing 20 to 200 times. Mary Roach advises practicing “until you can deliver your presentation effortlessly, without thinking about the first words you’re going to say about each slide.”

Most people just don’t have time for this much rehearsal! Fortunately, there are a few quick tips that will help you to get great results in less time.

Practice twice out loud

At a minimum, I suggest dedicating time to do at least two rehearsals. While you won’t be as perfect as a professional speaker, it will enable you to get comfortable with your material and polish your jokes, stories, and points. You might find yourself improvising and re-writing material. This is ok and will ultimately help you to deliver a more fluid presentation.

Play Video

Video record your rehearsals

To get the most out of your rehearsals, mimic your final performance conditions by working in a quiet environment, practicing from start to finish, and video recording your entire presentation.

Video recording and listening to your performance will help you with the next two steps: removing disfluencing and upgrading your body language.

Remove disfluencies

Identity and remove vocal fillers like “umm,” “you know,” and “so.” If it’s painful for you to listen to, it’ll be painful for your audience too. Better to catch disfluencies now and give yourself the opportunity to remove them in your next rehearsal.

Upgrade your body language

Look out for common mistakes like slouching, looking away, or staring blankly. Make note of when you do this (specifically what lines or parts in your presentation) so that in your next recording you can sit up straight, look directly into your camera, and smile.

When you go back for your second rehearsal, you’re naturally going to feel more comfortable with your material so you can focus on refining your voice and body language. If you choose, you can try standing up to see how this impacts your delivery.

Confident body language will have a huge impact on how well you attendees like your presentation and trust what you have to say.

Record Your Webinar

Webinar attendees consistently complain about the lack of engagement from the host. This isn’t surprising given that a lot of hosts are only willing to record their webinar once.

If you want to stand out, there’s an easy way to solve this problem: Record your webinar twice. In most cases, the first take will be adequate, but the second take will be better and more engaging for your audience.

The most common webinar complaints center around the speaker's lack of preparedness to deliver an engaging performance.
The most common webinar complaints center around the speaker's lack of preparedness to deliver an engaging performance.

Take 1

After two rehearsals, it’s time to do your first “take.” A take is a recording that you can publish for your final webinar!

Providing you choose to pre-record a webinar, you can edit together as many takes as you want. Some people will prefer to take the webinar in sections, performing each section on camera a couple times, and going through the presentation one section at a time. If that works for you, awesome.

Another way to approach this is to try and do one seamless take for the entire webinar. This approach has a few advantages. You might find that you get a more natural flow throughout the presentation. You’ll likely get through the webinar faster. And, most importantly, you’ll give yourself the chance to build energy throughout your presentation by mimicking the feeling of giving a live performance from start to finish.

Take 2

Once you have an adequate recording, many people would call it a day, but I recommend taking one more step: Do a second take.

This time, push yourself further.

  • Speak faster than you normally would. A lot of people find webinar speakers too slow. Now that you know your material, you can increase your pace and hold everyone attention.
  • Vary your inflection, pace and volume for more dramatic effect. Exaggerate more than you normally would.
  • Use your hands freely as you talk. This can make you a lot more engaging on camera.
  • Smile wider than before. Imagine a real listener on the other end of the camera and imagine talking directly to them.
  • Have fun with it! When your audience sees you having a good time, they’re more likely to have a good time with you.

The beauty of the second take is that you don’t have to use it.

Show clips from both takes to some friends and get their input. If you followed my recommended strategy of really pushing yourself to enhance your performance on the second take, then there will be noticeable difference between the two.

Your friends might pick aspects they liked and aspects they didn’t like from each performance. If you choose, you can do a third take where you combine the best aspects of both.

Give yourself a 7-day deadline

It can be temping to delay your rehearsals or your presentation. Maybe you’re not feeling up to it on a particular day. Maybe you just don’t want to record yourself.

Don’t do that! Rehearse anyway, and record it.

I recommend giving yourself a deadline of 7 days to do both rehearsals and both takes. (Remember that any SMART goal requires a deadline.)

Set a 7-day deadline for recording to keep yourself on track.
Set a 7-day deadline for recording to keep yourself on track.

There is no such thing as a perfect day to deliver your performance. There’s also a limit to how much meaningful improvement you can make by doing take after take.

Realistically, you need to save energy for the other tasks involved in launching your webinar. In fact, if this webinar flops, you might need to record a whole different webinar!

The only way you’ll where you’re going is to commit to this. Do your two rehearsals. Do your two takes. Publish it. See how it goes!

Sometimes giving yourself permission to bomb is part of the process.

Add your voice

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