Bad news: Your attempts to spice up your web presentation or demonstration by chatting or polling or drawing on the screen won’t make much of a difference UNLESS, you change this one thing. Ready? Here it is:
Adjust Your Style
What do I mean by this? You certainly already are adjusting your content to fit each prospect you speak to, but I bet you haven’t put any thought into adjusting the way you deliver that content to fit the medium.
Imagine a stage actor who is used to working in the theater in front of a live audience, suddenly cast in a television show. And instead of adjusting to the new medium, he uses the same movements, vocal style, timing and delivery. What would happen? The actor BOMBS! The audience is confused or bored, changes the channel and vows never to watch that show again! Remember the film, The Artist? The hero is a silent screen star who doesn’t believe that “talkies” will last and refuses to adjust his style. He ends up in a one bedroom apartment drinking all day with his dog. Could this happen to you if you don’t adjust your style? If your livelihood depends on moving prospects to take action over the web, it’s always a possibility! Luckily, it’s not as hard as you think.
When going from a life to a virtual audience, actors must make certain key adjustments in their style and master new techniques. Here are five adjustments that you can make in your web presentation or demo that will dramatically improve your ability to gain and hold the attention of your virtual audience.
- Talk to one person at a time. It’s easy to feel disconnected from your audience when you can’t see them. Unfortunately, your audience quickly picks up on this and disconnects even further. Counteract this by focusing on one person at a time in your mind’s eye and directing your words to them. Really see that person. Imagine their reactions and leave space for those reactions. Put a photo of them up on your wall if that helps you.
- Be Visible. People respond to faces. The more you can make yourself “real” and not just a disembodied voice, the more “live” you will appear. If you doubt this, think about how easy it is to turn down a salesperson on the phone vs. in person. Using a webcam is the best way to increase your visibility. Most of the salespeople I meet refuse to use a webcam, but it is a huge differentiator. Besides, what exactly are you afraid of your prospect seeing? The picture is 2 inches at most! OK, I hear the collective groan out there. At the very least have a credential slide with your photo on it and put it up during Q&A.
- Leverage your voice. No where is vocal quality and variety more critical than in a virtual environment. Remove the physical element and your voice carries the weight of your presentation – multiplying the negative impact of a monotone, unclear or hard-to-hear voice. As your primary communication tool, you need to make sure you are in your best possible voice. How? Funny you should ask: Download a Vocal Sales Warm-up under Tools.
- Embrace the pause. Web presenters are often afraid of silence, but it is an important tool in managing your audience’s attention. A strategic pause before revealing an important point can build anticipation, while a dramatic pause at the end of a key message gives the audience a chance to take it in and process what you’ve said.
- Plan interaction. We’re quick to blame a lack of interaction on our audience — “they weren’t paying attention,” “they were on their smartphones” — but interaction is not your audience’s responsibility, it is yours. And it doesn’t just magically happen. Plan some interaction every 5-10 minutes (the length of the average adult’s attention span) whether it’s questions, a poll or a white-boarding session. Whatever you choose, just make sure you have a plan and that it includes plenty of variety.
An “engaging on-line presentation” does not have to be an oxymoron if you adjust your style to suit the medium. Make it easy on yourself and learn from actors, who, like you, have had to master it to ensure their future success!