Way back in the day, I hosted my high school’s radio station. Every single week, before our show went live, my radio partner and I would pop a cassette into a recorder. The following day, we’d sit in our broadcasting classroom and listen to all two hours of our show, noting what we did well and where we could improve.
At first, it was shocking. What I thought was a smooth show was filled with awkward pockets of dead air and mumbling and “ums” galore. But as we became conscious of it, they slowly began to disappear. And our show improved.
We’ve all heard the old adage “practice makes perfect.” And yes, practice does make perfect, but only if you’re practicing correctly. If you are doing something over and over, but doing it erroneously, you’re only going to cement bad habits.
That’s why critiquing your webinars is so incredibly important. No matter how much prep you put in, I can almost guarantee your first webinar will not be your best of all time.
Fortunately, WebinarJam records your webinars automatically, so you can go back and watch and take notes on how to improve on your next one. Just follow this simple 10-point checklist to see what you did well and where you can do better.
1) Is your intro interesting?
Did you have an interesting hook to pull your audience in, such as a shocking statistic, an exciting story, a controversial statement or a powerful visual? Or did you just hop in with a “Howdy! How’s it going, folks? It’s great to be here today!”
Your attendees are taking precious time out of their day to watch you! Start right off the bat with an attention-grabbing intro to make sure they don’t decide it’s simply not worth their time.
2) Did everything flow?
Now’s the time to really pay attention and see if everything flowed smoothly or if there were awkward pauses and lapses of time while you tried to switch slides or insert videos. When waiting for the audience to fill out a poll, did you fill the silence with something or was there awkward dead air?
If you found that things flowed smoothly, awesome! If not, you may want to practice with the control panel a bit or ask a friend to help you moderate your webinar while you present.
3) Are you speaking at a reasonable pace?
When we’re nervous, most of us tend to speak a little faster. But, speaking too fast makes your listeners work harder, making it more challenging for them to absorb your content. Pay attention to the rate at which you talk in your presentation. Are you blurring your words together, trying to fit everything in, or are you taking meaningful pauses and giving your listeners time to soak in what you’re selling?
If your pace is reminiscent of a Busta Rhymes speed rap, practice speaking just a little slower than is comfortable. It may feel odd to you, but it will sound so much better to your viewers.
4) Are you staying on track?
Did you go into your webinar with a detailed outline of everything you were going to say? If not, there’s a good chance you went off track just a smidge or used a lot of filler words, like “um,” “yeah,” “soooo,” etc. Take note of the areas that tripped you up and make sure to practice those a few extra times before you present again. And think about bringing an outline with you next time or at least some detailed bullets.
5) Were you energetic?
Have you ever attended a lecture where the speaker was flat and monotone? Not very fun, right? In fact, it’s more suitable as a bedtime sleep aid as opposed to a knowledge-filled lesson. Your webinar is no different.
Watch your presentation to see how energetic and passionate you sound. Are you making inflections on important words to keep the monotone away? Are you excited about what you’re speaking about? Or is your voice shaking from nerves? It takes professional speakers months to years to hone their “video voice,” so don’t be afraid to practice over and over.
6) Are your words easy to understand?
By this I don’t mean, are you mumbling (although you should avoid that). I mean, are you choosing words that the average lay person will understand? This means avoiding business jargon and speaking in a clear and concise way. If you must use a jargon word or phrase, such as ROI, explain what it means (in this case, return on investment) for any viewers who aren’t in the know.
7) How are your slides and words working together?
It’s not a marketing secret that no one likes a slide filled top to bottom with text. However, beyond that, it can sometimes be difficult to assess your slides while you’re making them, since they’re not meant to be a standalone tool. Rather, your slides are meant to go hand-in-hand with your words, and they shouldn’t be the exact same.
Watch your presentation to see if you tend to read directly off the slide (big no-no), or if your slide has enough examples to back up what you’re saying.
8) Are your slides visually appealing?
While we’re on the topic of slides, how are the colors and visuals? Were they easy to read or did the colors strain your eyes, making them sting and just a little heavy? If so, make sure you choose simple colors, with a stark contrast between the text and slide, and ensure that the text isn’t too small.
9) Was your presentation focused?
It’s easy to go off on a tangent, especially when you’re nervous or an attendee asks an off-the-wall question. However, you want your content to always relate back to your overall objective. Keep an eye out for where you may have strayed or beat around the bush and note that for the future. And next time, before you create your outline, decide on what your overall objective will be and then build your content around that.
10) Was your pitch or closing compelling and related to your presentation?
Check to see if your closing was strong and related to your overall objective. If you’re trying to sell a product, did your closing feel more like a sales pitch or was it positioned as a solution to the problem you built up in your webinar?
Your webinar closing will be the last thing your viewers take away, so put a little extra work in to make it persuasive and ensure it drives home all the points you made during your presentation.
Once you’ve gone through and made notes of everywhere you can improve, begin to apply them to your next webinar, be it the same topic or different. And then, critique yourself on that webinar, patting yourself on the back for areas improved, while adjusting for areas you where you can do better. Over time, you will begin to see just how much you’ve enhanced your presentation and your attendees will too.