Engaging a Remote Audience
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
In today’s global business environment, sharing information with remote audiences via web conferencing and webinars has quickly replaced face to face meetings and live training. Web conferencing is convenient and cost effective for global organizations. There are a variety of vendors that offer web conferencing and webinars at a variety of price points. I use Citrix Go to Webinars to deliver webinars; it is user friendly and affordable. Some of my clients use ZOOM, WebEx, Adobe Connect and Microsoft Office Live Meeting for their conferencing needs. WebEx is the most senior Web conferencing provider on the market today. Whoever you chose to work with, make sure that they offer technical assistance.
Delivering information via web conferencing and webinars can be challenging, especially in the beginning. First, how do we know people are really listening if we can’t see them? Even if we can see them via a webcam, we still don’t know if they are actively listening. Another challenge is that most audiences are culturally diverse and usually in different time zones.Most of the clients that I work with have struggled with effectively communicating during web conferencing. They know that they must use web conferencing but they don’t know how to engage the remote listeners.
Here are a few tips:
Always, always check the equipment before you go live. Log on 10-15 minutes before the meeting to make sure the connections are working. Know who to call and how to get technical assistance before you begin. Make sure you have proper audio connections. If it is your first time using web conferencing or delivering a webinar, practice before hand. Go to Webinars allows me to run a practice webinar before the live webinar.
Close open programs on your desktop that might interfere with the web conferencing or webinar.
Turn off your cell phone and shut your door before you begin so you won’t be distracted.
Invest in a headset to keep your hands free. The headset is connected to your computer. Make sure the headset isn’t blocking your face if you are using a webcam.
Do not shuffle papers around on your desk during the web conference.
Mute the remote participants when you are delivering a webinar to avoid background noise from one of the remote participants. You don’t want to hear a dog barking in the background.
Drink water before you begin to speak to hydrate your vocal cords.
Speak slowly and clearly.
Speak with enthusiasm. If you have trouble being enthusiastic, try standing up to speak unless of course you are looking into a webcam!
Always put your photo and contact information on the first PowerPoint slide, especially if the conference is audio only.
Include a facilitator to handle introductions and keep everyone on track. The presenter can play two roles, the facilitator and the presenter if no one else is available to facilitate.
Tell the remote participants exactly what the time frame is. I am going to share 15 PowerPoint slides, it will take approximately 20 minutes and then we will have a question and answer session.
Be considerate of different time zone, it is not OK to speak longer than expected.
Greet your audience members with a greeting in their native language. For example, if you are in New York and the remote participants are in Paris and Rome say Good Morning, Bonjour and Buongiorno.
Keep your language simple and concise. Eliminate any American phrases that do not translate. For example - the apple of my eye, stuck between a rock and a hard spot, getting to first base, a catch 22 situation.
Use stories and examples that the remote participants can relate to. For example, don’t talk about American football or baseball when speaking to a global audience. Use a soccer example. Soccer is common in Europe, South America and North America.
Create PowerPoint slides that are visually appealing. DO NOT have plain text on a PowerPoint slide; it is sooooo boring to look at. You need to engage the audience not bore them. Plain text will bore people and you will lose them. Include visual images that are relevant to the topic.
Tell the remote participants if you are recording the webinar or conference. If you are making a recording, tell the participants how they can access the recording.
Some web conferencing services offer polls and surveys to engage the remote participants. Go to Webinars has both. When I deliver webinars, I force interaction by using the polls and surveys. Remote participants like the participation.
Find out if communication is formal (Mrs. Jones, Dr. Chan) or informal (Angelo, Mary)
If you are using a webcam, make eye contact with the webcam. This takes practice. Most of us tend to look at the computer screen not the webcam.
If you are using a webcam, make sure the room is well lit and that you are professionally dressed. Keep your hand gestures to a minimum and smile.
Using web conferencing and webinars is here to stay so you might as well get good at it!