Your professional conference may no longer be held at a local venue, but that doesn’t mean it's cancelled.
Presenters are encouraged to re-structure their discussions into a digitally presentable format. On the surface, reformatting conference content for webinar consumption makes sense—conferences are a critical part of industry and professional cultures, allowing attendees to network and participate in dedicated creative problem solving while staying up to date on the latest advances in their fields. The tricky part is making sure that your participants and attendees are as engaged digitally as they would be in person.
Here are five tips to help you transform your presentation into a webinar.
1. Record a video of you giving your talk, then watch it.
The quickest way to identify the gaps in your presentation style is to practice presenting.
Instead of using a mirror, you can use the meeting recording feature of your organization’s conferencing platform, allowing you to pause during replay to make a note or keep an accurate count of your mannerisms.
For example, when broadcasting video, placement of your camera matters. You need to know whether you’re making eye contact with your audience or you look like you’re reading off an index card. If you watch yourself present and feel that you look exceptionally uncomfortable, try adjusting your camera relative to your eye level (for example, instead of placing your laptop in your lap while sitting, set it on top of several books on a desk to elevate the webcam to eye level).
2. Plan to have your video camera active.
While the choice is always yours, showing your face on camera can help engage your audience and allow them to watch your body language while you speak, which is often helpful for English-as-a-second-language participants.
- Even if you plan not to use your webcam, dress appropriately.
If you’re planning to keep your camera off, be aware that some conferencing software will automatically activate the camera, requiring you to opt out by flipping a switch only after you have joined the conference.
3. Locate the best possible place in your apartment or office to host your webinar.
Before hosting a camera-on presentation, you will want to make sure that your lighting, background level of tidiness and other visual elements are appropriate to the situation.
Likewise, you should also review the acoustic properties of your presentation space. For example, a high-ceilinged room with wood or tile floors can be visually stunning and provide excellent lighting, but an echo may cause a need for adjustment.
4. Update your presentation slides.
Feel free to decrease your font size or increase the number of words per slide compared to your live presentation.
Using the webinar format, everyone has the same view of your presentation. You can use the uniform audience perspective to give your charts, tables, and summary points a bit more detail.
Consider including a demonstration during your webinar to increase engagement. Webinar technology makes it easy to share your screen, so you can show participants firsthand what the platform looks like, what common problems might arise and how to troubleshoot them.
5. Follow up with your audience.
In-person conferences often deploy volunteers to count heads and record attendance to presentations, panels and other events. Digital conferences provide more accurate headcounts and even a list of attendees that you can follow up with after your presentation.
Since you know that you can contact participants, prepare an elevator-pitch-style summary of your work or your business to get the conversation rolling.
With a little planning, your webinar-ized conference presentation can go smoothly, leaving your participants with a positive impression of you and your organization.