It's accepted wisdom that most people don't like to present. There are some of us who love it. Now imagine there's a tool that makes even good presenters nervous and ineffective. Additionally, let's mandate using that that tool as a critical component of work today. When it comes to webinars or online presentations using WebEx, GoToMeeting or any of the dozens of tools just like them, that's exactly what's going on.
According to studies by Citrix, over 90 per cent of large companies now use some kind of web conferencing, so there's no escape. But why do good presenters hate these tools and what can you do about it?
Here are some tips from my book, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations.
The main reason we present is the one thing webinars don't do well
People who like presenting do it because those nerves most mortals get our adrenaline pumping and are energizing to us. Interacting with people and getting feedback is our reward for standing up and talking.
Web Presentation tools don't allow for that same immediacy and very often we lack the one thing that makes presenting worth the trouble- immediate feedback and gratification. Fact is, these tools do allow for more interaction and feedback than most presenters utilize, but it's just not the same.
It's not bad, it's just different and we need to be aware of that difference and not let us throw us off our game.
Technology is the least important part of our message, yet it's all we see
Many people who have the interpersonal skills to present well, tend to have an aversion to technology. Presenting online creates two challenges for these folks:
- First, ww are totally dependent on something we don't trust or like, which makes us uncomfortable. As we become more comfortable with these tools, our brains stop sending panic signals and we can relax.
- There's a level of multitasking that takes something we do without thinking and makes us suddenly super conscious of what we're doing. Practice with the tools in a safe environment (defined as without live, innocent victims on the other end) gradually builds mental callouses that allow our conscious brains to go back to what we were supposed to be doing. Whether that's leading a meeting or presenting complex information and checking for understanding, you need to be relaxed and comfortable to be effective
Most of us don't really understand what the technology can do
If you've never been part of a well-run, interactive and engaging webinar or online presentation, how can you be expected to present one yourself? Additionally, most users of online presentation tools use fewer than 25% of the features of these platforms.
A simple rule of thumb: imagine what would make an interesting, engaging and (dare I say it?) fun presentation, then figure out the tools available to you to achieve those goals.
Taking good presenters, removing everything they like about presenting and replacing that with unfamiliar, clunky technology and a foreign presentation environment is no way to help yourself or your people become successful web presenters.
Training is available, or you can take the time to watch good webinar presenters, learn from them and then schedule training and coaching before undermining your good presenters' confidence and your audience's patience.