Tips for connecting with your audience and shining online

By Lyn Roseaman, Toastmasters International

In our current situation being able to use platforms such as Zoom for training sessions or other meetings has provided a life raft for many businesses. However, communicating well online is a challenge, which requires a different mindset and adapting your skills. How can you shine online and communicate via different platforms with Confidence, Connection and a message that drives Change?

For Confidence

 If we have noticeable nerves it can makes our audience feel uncomfortable and concerned for our wellbeing. Online, they may choose to abandon us and stop listening.

 To ensure our listeners engage with our message we need to bring confident energy to the screen. This will help our audience to relax and connect with us and what we’re saying.

 How can this be achieved?

Get ready to be viewed in close up

If you’re going online from home check your surroundings. What’s behind you that the camera will pick up? Are there people or sounds that may interrupt? Is the space you’ve chosen sending out your intended message? A garden shed or the kitchen may not be the best for a business webinar.

 Being online is a ‘close up’. On the small screen the camera picks up every detail, expression and gesture. Is the light behind the camera (to avoid hiding you in shadow)? Is dazzling sunshine bouncing flare onto your face, especially if you wear glasses? Capture a photo/screenshot before you go live to make sure you’re looking the part and everything is appropriate for the occasion.

Controlling the technology

Online, we need to convey a feeling of calm and control when we host a meeting or event, and handle the technology.

 In spite of doing all the appropriate tech checks, things can still go wrong. And people accept that this can happen. What’s important is that you handle it calmly and efficiently, explaining what’s happening. If possible find another person who can take care of the tech while you concentrate on connecting with your audience.

Manage your body language

Think about the non-verbal ways you are able to convey confident energy online:

  • An open and stable posture that is relaxed and assured.
  • Smaller gestures. Big gestures will overwhelm or fall off screen.
  • When you’re close to a mic, people may hear your nerves in your voice. Breathe into the abdomen and relax your upper body so that your vocal tone is rich and strong.
  • Steady eye contact and the correct positioning of your camera lens at just above eye level helps you to come across as open and sincere.
  • Remember to smile.

For Connection

 If you’ve been to conference you may well have notice that some speakers have a queue of people waiting to talk to them. These speakers had connected, both in terms of the value they gave to the audience – their relevant message – and the way the speaker made them feel.

Answering the question – ‘What’s in it for me?

As a webinar host it’s your responsibility to answer listeners’ all-important question ‘What’s in it for me’, as quickly as possible – so they keep listening. For this, you need to know your participants. Find out what makes them tick and why they’re attending.

Using the magic word

‘When it comes to being relevant and engaging online ‘You’ is the magic word. In English, ‘you’ power comes from being both singular – a one-to-one conversation – and plural, including everyone. You-focused language simultaneously creates a feeling of inclusivity and a personal connection with every listener.

Sharing stories

Storytelling comes into its own online. When we tell a relevant personal story, openly and honestly, our listeners can relate to us. Stories create connections and are both engaging and memorable. How different from wading through endless bullet points!

For Change

In current circumstances, online webinars and conversations are our opportunity to remain visible, explore change and start building our future together.

 Search engines can tell us immediately what’s new and different online. To stand out and keep our listeners interested we need to say something timely and relevant.

 Identify your message – one that is refreshed and relevant today – and incorporate only content that supports it.

Keeping to the point

Online attention spans are short and there is even less appetite for tangents than when everyone’s in the same room, so keep to the point.

 Make your talk easy to understand. Consider a clear structure, such as a hero’s journey or the pros and cons. Break it up into small ‘chunks’ of around five minutes and top and tail each chunk with what you plan to cover and a keyword to sum it up as you move on.

 Being able to communicate clearly and connect with your audience is vitally important. Review what you are doing before your next online webinar or presentation so you can make sure your set up is as good as it can be.  Think about how you will word your message and connect with your audience online.  With all the elements in place you can shine online.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lyn Roseaman is a Distinguished Toastmaster at Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management  www.toastmasters.org

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