The first time you host a webinar and deliver your presentation, especially if you’ve been used to being in front of a live audience… you’ll realise that the two audiences are very different.

For starters, it’s very rare to have a completely silent audience in a seminar… and even if they aren’t using any form of verbal communication, they can still communicate with you using their non-verbal language.

However during a webinar presentation, your entire audience will be muted, and as you are all behind your respective computer screens in different locations, none of you have the benefit of the non-verbal communication either.

So there is a much heavier emphasis on sound during webinar presentations… and as a result I know some speakers feel they have to fill every second of the session with chat… believing that this will enhance the audience experience and ensure their message is heard.

But, that view is misguided… so today I want to talk about how stopping the chat occasionally can add real brevity to your message.

The Pause:
Pausing before you reveal something important adds to the tension and expectation of your listeners. I’m sure you’re familiar with this from award ceremonies or shows like X-Factor… where instead of saying;

“And the winner is Joe Bloggs!”

… which doesn’t allow for any anticipation to build, they will say;

“And the winner is…………………… Joe Bloggs!”

By the time the name is announced, the excitement has had time to build during the pause and the anticipation is palpable.

So, consider where you can use a pause to increase the sense of importance or excitement at a key point in your presentation… engage the audience by pausing for a beat before continuing.

Pictures speak a thousand words:
I love using pictures in my presentations as you can really convey emotions well with the right image… but why not consider using a short series of pictures in your slides to tell a story to your audience?

Perhaps 3 or 4 images showing people experiencing the pain your course/event/book solves… just before you go into revealing your offer?

Next time you watch a documentary on TV, pay attention to the narrator… recognise when he stops talking and the images or film sequence take over the story-telling.

Could that be a powerful strategy for you to use in your next presentation?

The “action” silence:
When you’re on stage, your audience can ask their questions of you in real time. In a webinar, they will be submitting their questions throughout your presentation, and you’ll need time to read through the submissions and choose which to answer.

If you’re like most people, you find it very difficult to multi-task… so what happens is that you try to avoid the silence while you read through the questions by chatting aloud. But then you lose track of what you’re reading… the audience can’t easily follow what you’re saying and you’re not properly focused on either.

So, even if you have a buddy with you (which I highly recommend when you first start out… someone to filter the questions for you while you concentrate on your role as the presenter) I would suggest that you give yourself permission to not speak while you skim read the questions.

If the thought of silence makes you fear that your audience will think you’ve lost your internet connection and disappeared, you might choose to embed an audio into your slide and let that play for a minute or so until you’re ready to respond with your full attention.

This time is likely to be the point in your presentation that directly follows your call to action. So you could tell your audience that you will give them a minute (or however long you choose) to go check out your sales page while you collate the questions… cue music.

You know, it is ok to not fill every second of your webinars with chat… and I hope I’ve been able to demonstrate how powerful it can be for your presentation when you do give yourself permission to let your silence tell a more powerful story.

What have been your experiences of using silence to convey your message?

How to run successful webinars is one of many topics I cover in my Silver Mentoring program… a “guided at every step” program, laid out like a virtual ‘Wikipedia’ of speaking success tools, tips, techniques and tricks… for less than a cup of coffee each day! Check it out here

4 Responses to “Silence Is Golden!”

  1. Completely agree!

    I often use silence to make sure I’ve got everyone’s attention before saying something really important: “Now, listen to this, it’s really important……send me all your money (or whatever your message is)”

    It’s also great for giving people thinking space to process information. If you talk too much they start internal processing and stop listening to you, so they lose the thread of your message.

    Think about it…..

  2. Great blog Joanna and just at the right time for me. I’m going through a webinar I am about to present identifying the emotional triggers I can use. Pauses will be added to me armoury! Thank you

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