When it comes to business, the humble webinar has often played second fiddle to in-person seminars. These are where professionals, executives and entrepreneurship types can network with each other via a physical conversation and close off potential deals with a handshake while waiting in line at the most important aspect of the event—the buffet table.

However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic that began earlier this year, times have certainly changed. We are living in a digital world now and, when it comes to work, there’s never been a better time to adopt technological alternatives to in-person events or meetings. There has been an unprecedented rise in popularity in hosting webinars for companies big and small, so much so that the term “working from home” is now synonymous with video meetings on Zoom or Skype with the team or department at work.

Webinars for Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur hosting webinar
Entrepreneur hosting webinar

Luckily for entrepreneurs of the digital age, there are several factors that have simply fallen into place because of the pandemic. Large numbers of the population are at home, working or otherwise, simply because not much is open and there isn’t really much to do in terms of activities. To combat boredom, they go online—and this exactly where you come in. With a well-crafted slide deck and unique invitation email with some killer copy, you can turn your webinar into a supercharged lead-generation tool for your business.

Webinars are just as much a performance as it is informational. You need the right amount of knowledge, charm, and persuasive skills, yet not come across as a know-it-all rambling on with dry facts that leave your audience zoning out or even leaving the virtual room altogether. It is always worth remembering that on average, more than half of your potential audience are too busy to watch webinars that don’t interest them—and rightfully so. Why waste time on something that doesn’t benefit you?

Top Tips on Hosting a Webinar without Boring Your Audience

If you are planning on hosting webinars in the near future, here are some things you can do to improve your audience’s experience and keep them engaged throughout the entire length of your session.

1) Invest in high-quality gear
Entrepreneur using external camera to host webinar
Entrepreneur using external camera to host webinar

If you’re planning on just using your onboard laptop’s microphone and camera, you might want to reconsider. To be fair, some of the latest laptop models feature some pretty impressive technology when it comes to the audiovisual, but if you’re still using a laptop that’s more than 3 years old, chances are the onboard camera and microphone are starting to lag behind in terms of quality. According to feedback from webinar attendees, poor audio and visual quality is one of the biggest complaints to the whole webinar experience.

Look for an external microphone that features plug ’n’ play compatibility, and position it right in front of you on your desk. For standing presentations, use a clip-on mic or an overhead boom mic that is out of the camera’s view. For external cameras, you’re pretty much spoilt for choice as you’ll easily find a HD external webcam device at pretty competitive prices on Amazon.

2) Start on time, end on time

There’s nothing worse than promising to start your webinar at a certain time, and leaving your audience hanging, wondering if they should have started the laundry or made lunch first before rushing to join the virtual room. Try as much as possible to stick to the start time that’s specified in your email invitation. Ending on time is equally as important—time is money, and if you don’t respect your audience’s time and attention, it just leaves a bad impression on you and your business.

3) Share interesting, engaging content

One of the biggest rules for webinars and presentations is never to be heavy on text. People want to see engaging content, and when it comes to webinar content less is truly more. Use short videos, actual pictures (try and minimize use of stock images) and quick polls or surveys to get your points across in the most interesting way. This way, you’ll keep your audience engaged throughout the duration of your webinar without leaving them fatigued.

4) Create a professional slide deck
Entrepreneur creating slideshow presentation on laptop for webinar
Entrepreneur creating slideshow presentation on laptop for webinar

Consider purchasing professional slide deck templates to truly up your presentation game. Amateur looking PowerPoint presentations should be left where they belong—in high school or college. When you’re trying to generate leads or pitch to potential clients with a webinar, a polished, sleek and well-flowing slide deck just lends that visual appeal to keep your audience’s eyes locked to their screens.

5) Become the focus of your webinar

This is an all too common mistake rookie webinar hosts make—reading off the slides. By doing so, you’re actively boring your audience—full stop. You’re not an audiobook, and more often than not, your audience can read slides faster than you do. Always include personal anecdotes and keep the reading of slides to a minimum. This makes you more relatable to your audience, which is always a good thing.

6) Location, location, location

Choose an appropriate location for you to present your webinar. Don’t present in a room that’s too dark, and never turn on your camera to the audience when you’ve got a pile of mess behind you. Remember, you’re the star of the show, and your backdrop is equally as important as what you’re presenting. Keep your background distractions to a minimum, and choose well-lit areas that compliment your visual appeal for that truly #nofilter look.

7) Practice makes perfect

Before going live with an audience, record several practice sessions and ask a close friend or associate for professional critique, or thoughts on your performance. This allows you to identify any areas of improvement so that when the time comes for you to go on-air virtually, you’re all set with a killer webinar to keep your audience engaged from start to finish.

8) Ask your audience to keep cameras on

One last trick to keep your audience from being bored is to ask them to keep their cameras on. Your attendees will be more engaged if they know you can see them during the webinar, and although it doesn’t quite have the same effect as in-person presentations, you are able to just maintain that visual connection with your audience if you can see them react to what you’re saying, and vice versa when you react to their comments or questions. Simply watching your audience nod their heads or laugh at a personal anecdote of yours can be a great boost to your morale and keeps your webinar high-energy and entertaining.

How to Fail Like a Pro Webinar

If you want to learn how to fail like a pro and still bounce back, join us for our free webinar Wednesday November 18 where industry giants Odile Roujol (FAB Fashion and Beauty Tech), Billy Dec (COACT), Glen Lundy (#RiseAndGrind), and Debra Chen (The Great Fail) will share their failures and hard-learned lessons. Click here to learn more and register.

Have any more tips for hosting an engaging webinar? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.