In my last blog post, I shared with you the importance of telling your story on stage, and invited you to join my free Find Your ‘Secret Sauce’ as a Storyteller Facebook Live Challenge to buff up the muscles to tell powerful (and high-converting) stories on stage.
One of the stages where storytelling, unfortunately, is often at its weakest—webinars.
When leading a webinar, it’s common practice to have a comprehensive slide deck. You know what I’m talking about. After the stock slides introducing the focus of the webinar, we put in a bunch of slides that show our meteoric rise from industry nobody to industry thought leader. (Okay, I’m being a little cheeky here, but the tactic is – show your evolution so that participants see what is possible for them.)
Then, we have slides that represent our key teachings. We have slides that periodically ask our attendees how what we are saying is resonating with and for them. And of course, we have at least a dozen slides outlining the features and benefits of whatever online program or product we are promoting—as well as the time-sensitive bonuses we are throwing in for early action takers.
While there is certainly a place for slides in a webinar, i.e., when teaching content or when outlining what’s included in an offer, when we have all of our notes in front of us and are hiding behind our computer screens we often forget to tell stories and actually be human with our audiences. We forget that we are center stage, so even if we do tell stories, rarely are we masterfully engaging our people.
How can we refresh (and reinvigorate) our webinar performance habits?
Spend more time on camera – especially when telling stories to our audiences.
Before people decide to invest with you, they want proof that you know your stuff (which is hard to demonstrate when people can’t see you.) They want evidence that you are a charismatic speaker and teacher. They want to see that you can facilitate transformational learning. And above all else, they want to make sure you are fun and engaging.
Because they know that no matter how great your content, if you don’t engage them they are not going to show up and do your program.
While many live webinar presenters will come on camera at the end of their presentation when doing Q+A with their audience, I encourage you to open on camera, introduce yourself, and tell your story.
Let your audience members look directly into your eyes, see your heart, and develop trust and rapport with you.
When speaking virtually, there are 3 things to pay particular attention to with your storytelling.
- Let your upper body tell the story that your lower body cannot.
When you are in front of a live audience, a lot of storytelling happens from the neck down. When you are leading a webinar, however, you are usually limited to your face, neck, arms, shoulders and hands. So use them! Use your hands to bring your message from your heart to your audience. Literally. And communicate the emotion behind your words with your eyes, with your cheeks, and with the shape of your mouth.
- Be very intentional about vocal variety.
Stories come to life through a speaker’s pitch, tone, volume and especially rate of delivery. As you rehearse, aloud, practice using your voice to pitch up when asking a question. Slow down when you want to communicate something particularly important. Hold silence after delivering something emotional. If inserting some humor, practice speeding up. Speakers need to know their beats, just like actors do!
- Build in time to speak with your audience.
Unlike a traditional presentation where most if not all Q+A happens at the end, if you are telling a story on camera, end by asking questions of your participants that let them personalize the message of your story.
Can you relate?
What came up for you?
How is the mess I had to muck my way through similar to what is showing up in your business/life?
Let your participants answer for themselves by holding silence. And better yet, invite them to share their reflections and aha’s in your webinar chat. Then, read some of them out loud. Make your chat a true conversation.
While I used to abhor virtual presentations because I missed the chemistry I could create with a live audience, now I recognize webinars are an efficient (and truly effective) way to reach more people. And through practicing the preceding strategies, I can make online offerings feel as intimate as standing in front of a room full of people. However, to do so requires being a little (if not a lot) unscripted. It requires telling stories where I’m honest, a little raw, and not too cool or evolved to call out my crap.
I’d love to help you illuminate and polish powerful stories you can tell on live and virtual stages. That’s why I’ve created October’s Find Your ‘Secret Sauce’ as a Storyteller Facebook Live Challenge.
5 different storytelling styles (and accompanying Facebook Live challenges).
5 live Q+A sessions with me.
And an opportunity to enter to win a FREE TICKET to my The Spotlight MasterTreat live event for transformational speakers in Las Vegas, April 28-30, 2017.
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” – Hopi American Indian proverb