Becoming a Webinar Expert: Conversation with Ellen Finkelstein

Becoming a Webinar Expert: Conversation with Ellen Finkelstein

Created: Thursday, May 19, 2016 posted by at 4:00 am

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Ellen Finkelstein

Ellen FinkelsteinEllen Finkelstein is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP and author of several PowerPoint, Flash, and AutoCAD books. She also holds webinars on presenting skills on a regular basis.

In this interview, Ellen talks about her webinar secrets.

Geetesh: Ellen, you do so many webinars—and you do these so confidently and easily. What is your secret?

Ellen: My first webinar was really scary. It seemed so strange to talk without seeing the audience. But over time, I got used to it. One technique that helped was to interact with the audience, using the webinar chat. For example, I love to start out by asking the audience a question and reading out loud some of the answers. This is the same technique that presenters use with a live audience to capture their attention. And if you can incorporate some of their answers into the presentation later, they will be very appreciative.

For example, since I speak to presenters, I often ask what type of presentations they do. I sometimes use a poll for this so I can get the exact percentages and show the results to the audience. Somewhere in the presentation, I might say, “Since 40% of you are trainers, you’ll find this particularly interesting…”

Once you get responses in this way, you discover that you have smart and thoughtful people in your audience and you sort of fall in love with them. This does wonders for you as a presenter!

In addition, if I’m doing a new webinar, I practice, just like I do for a live presentation. Without practicing, it’s impossible to know how long it will take and the results can be disastrous. Practicing makes me feel more comfortable both subjectively (how I feel) and objectively (knowing that the material will work for the time given).

One secret for webinars is to use more slides than you would for a live presentation. Even if you’re using the webcam—which I recommend highly—you’ll be a little box in the corner. It’s so much easier for the audience to ignore you and start looking at their email—and they know you can’t see them! So keep the slides moving crisply. I try to use 1-2 per minute. Of course, the slides should be clear, engaging, and persuasive—but that applies to any presentation.

Geetesh: Do you have a checklist of what you must do before a webinar? Can you tell us more?

Ellen: I have a planning worksheet that I use for a sales webinar. These webinars involve a lot of promotion, working with partners, preparation of the sales mechanism, and follow-up They are really quite a project, so it’s good to plan well in advance. It’s called the Ultimate Webinar Planning Worksheet and it’s available for free download through Monday, May 23rd 2016.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post or content are those of the authors or the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company.

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