If you’re looking for some public speaking tips to help you overcome the anxiety of leading a webinar, you’re in the right place.
Speaking in front of a webinar group is generally easier than getting up on a stage, but for many people, it’s still quite difficult.
People are afraid of public speaking because they focus on the possible negatives. They worry they’ll say something silly or stupid and ruin their credibility. They fear they might freeze up and fail to say anything at all.
Fortunately, with the right advice and a little practice, public speaking is a skill you can improve.
12 Webinar Public Speaking Tips
If you’re a nervous speaker, these public speaking tips will help you deal with your anxiety, engage your audience, and project confidence and poise.
1. Interact with Your Guests
A quick way to make yourself more comfortable during a presentation is, to begin with some audience interaction.
Make sure you’re the first person in your webinar room. Interact with people as they join. Welcome them by name. Ask where they’re from and what they do. Most importantly, ask why they decided to attend the webinar.
This unscripted Q&A time will help you feel more connected to your audience and let you practice speaking to the group (and getting over your fear) while the group is small and unintimidating.
2. Vary Your Voice Dynamics
Here is a public speaking tip professional speakers learn early: If you speak in a monotonous tone and never vary your cadence, pitch, volume, or rhythm, you’ll likely put your guests to sleep.
You can keep them engaged by adjusting these variables depending on your content. If something is exciting, don’t be afraid to get louder. If you make a point that’s worth thoughtful consideration, take a pause.
You can also help your guests stay engaged with your presentation by using hand gestures to make your points. This is easier when you’re standing up.
3. Stand While You Talk
Image: Chris Kelly / Flickr
There’s plenty of science that shows we think better on our feet. When you’re standing up, you’re able to think faster and more clearly. You’re also able to focus better and for longer periods of time.
Deliver your webinar while standing up. If possible, pick up a standing desk. (The adjustable kinds are expensive, but the fixed-height desks aren’t too pricey.)
If you can’t get a standing desk, deliver your webinar at your counter. Pile a few books to get your monitor and camera at the right height.
4. Use Lots of Stories
Stories are powerful ways of connecting with other people. As social creatures, we want to relate to one another.
Furthermore, stories actually change our brain chemistry. During a story, our brains produce cortisol to help us focus and oxytocin to help us empathize. These changes in the brain lead to changes in behavior.
Basically, by telling stories, your guests develop empathy with you and learn to trust the things you say.
Stories make your life simpler because they’re easier to remember than facts and figures. You’ll be able to tell them off the top of your head in a relaxed, conversational way, which is important if you struggle with anxiety when speaking in front of a group.
You don’t have to have a lot of experience to tell stories. You can recount stories from history, a story you read online, or you can talk about something that happened to someone else.
5. Keep Things Simple
There are a lot of public speakers who try to present so much valuable information that they end up leading a dense, unnecessarily complex webinar.
Cramming too much information into your webinar also forces you to rush through your points in order to finish in the allotted time.
“Slow down, and keep your message simple,” recommend the experts at Mindvalley. “It is better to deliver less information that people can actually follow and understand than to try to put as much content as possible into a shorter time frame.”
Naturally, this public speaking tip depends on your content. Some topics are unavoidably dense. Just make sure you aren’t adding unnecessary depth.
6. If You Aren’t Confident, Fake It
Confidence is an important part of public speaking. Your guests will relax and trust what you say if you appear confident and assertive while you say it.
You have plenty of reason to be confident. You’ve done your research, collected your data, and organized your lesson in a logical way. You’re knowledgeable. People find that valuable.
But if you’re not confident presenting, pretend to be. Speak with authority, even if you don’t believe it. After a few minutes, you’ll grow comfortable in that mode.
7. Highlight Your Strengths
Like every webinar presenter, you have strengths and weaknesses. You can make yourself a better speaker (and reduce your anxiety) by focusing on your strengths and downplaying your weaknesses.
For instance, if you just aren’t a funny person, don’t try to shoehorn jokes into your presentation. Chances are they’ll flop and you’ll seem silly. But if you’re great at creating examples to explain your points, use them often.
8. Practice, Practice, Practice
It should go without saying, but it’s critical that you practice your webinar presentation, even if you know the topic well.
Speaking in front of a group is quite different than thinking about the topic in your head. If you try to “wing it” off just a few notes, there’s a good chance you’ll forget important points, blow through complex topics, and fail to connect the pieces (because in your head, they’re already connected).
Plus, if you’re new to public speaking, you may have to overcome feelings of anxiety and pressure.
Present your webinar to an empty room exactly as you intend to present to the group. If you can, have a friend sit for your presentation to simulate the real thing and give feedback. Recording yourself helps too, so you can watch your own performance.
9. Be Realistic
One of the biggest reasons people fear speaking in front of a group is because they set unreasonable expectations for themselves.
If you’ve never spoken in front of a group, of course, you won’t come across as smooth and fearless as Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Dave Ramsey. You just don’t have the practice to reach their level of skill.
Lower your standards a bit and accept that you’ll drop the occasional “um,” forget your place once or twice, and struggle through the occasional pause while you organize your thoughts. These are normal. Most of your guests won’t care at all.
Plus, you probably aren’t presenting on the kind of topics that will move your webinar guests to tears or cause them to stand and cheer. Even if they did, you probably wouldn’t know.
10. Be Yourself
You may find it useful to watch recordings of popular webinar presenters but don’t try to duplicate their styles and techniques. Pretending to be someone else will fill you with anxiety and frustration. It’s far easier to just be yourself.
Your audience wants to hear you speak. They want your voice, insights, and personality. Give them an honest version of yourself, not a constructed, branded façade. Be genuine, and conversational.
(But if you want to see how the pros do it, check out this list of the greatest speeches of all time.)
We’ve given you several public speaking tips to improve your speaking performance, but don’t expect to master them all at once. Focus on a few of them during your next webinar. Once you get the hang of them, consider a few more. Over time you’ll become a confident public speaker who runs effective and effortless webinars.