6 public speaking mistakes to avoid during webinars

There have been many articles and even whole books written about professional speaking and presentation techniques. It’s no wonder that there’s a demand for such content; the numbers show that public speaking anxiety is the most common phobia ahead of heights or even death. There are many similarities between speaking in front of an audience in real life and running a live video. The basics are the same, but as the circumstances vary, so do the problems that an entrepreneur has to face.

Here are the most common mistakes in public speaking that need to be overcome in order to nail a webinar.

What if presenting in public takes your breath away?

Although we all love the theme song from Top Gun, let’s leave it to Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. There are situations in life, such as presenting in public, when we especially don’t want to lose our breath. So if you tend to have a frog in your throat when public speaking, we have good news for you.

Compared to presenting in public, hosting webinars follows their own rules that can make performing less stressful. For example, not seeing your audience may well be a double-edged sword. You might feel less stressed by the fact that you can only see a small number of the people who are listening to you, but on the other hand you can’t watch their reactions to your presentation. You can still do a lot to keep viewers engaged, but you might need a tool that offers special features in order to boost integration levels.

Public speaking is a skill, not a natural ability

You don’t have to already be an incredible speaker before hosting your first live stream, as it takes training to develop skills that only come with experience. According to this research, fear of public speaking (glossophobia) is considered to be a social anxiety disorder that affects 73% of the population. This finding has an academic background connected with semantic memory and cognitive science. But we’re not here to discuss biology. What matters when hosting a webinar is to know some useful methods to help you work on your speaking abilities. Why is switching your perspective a game-changer?

No one (or hardly anyone) is born a wunderkind. Behind the success of most great entrepreneurs stands effort and systematic training. There’s a need for running workshops to spread knowledge concerning public speaking anxiety as the demand for soft skills is rising. Even Warren Buffet says that the most important diploma he has is a certificate for completing a public-speaking course. If a man who owns a company worth $80 billion says such a thing, it has to give some food for thought.

6 public speaking mistakes to avoid during webinars

6 common mistakes in public speaking

Maybe you are already familiar with some good practices that can help you with public performances. Knowing what not to do is equally important though, as is being able to learn from your mistakes. But let’s be honest - it’s less painful to base advice on somebody else’s experience than your own errors. Here’s a list of common public speaking mistakes and tips to avoid bloopers.

#1 Fear of being judged makes you paralyzed

Being nervous is a normal reaction to performing in public. Even actors, to whom the stage is like a second home, frequently admit to having jitters before a show. Often speakers state that what gives them the creeps is the fear of failure or being poorly judged. Remembering that almost everybody is afraid of the same thing might help with dealing with stress, as it’s a common phenomenon rather than a unique situation.

Imagine what would happen if someone doesn’t regard you as a great speaker. Ask yourself if that opinion really matters and is valuable to you. Before you give a presentation write down a few goals that you would like to achieve during your performance and focus on them. Don’t take every comment personally, because you’re simply not able to please everyone.

Give yourself time and space to learn, not only by following role models but also learning from your own mistakes. Only listen to constructive criticism that can help you benefit from your slip ups in the future. Don’t set expectations that are out of reach.

#2 Visual presentation is (not) key

If you know your topic well and can more-or-less remember what you want to talk about, the risk of failure obviously reduces dramatically. Being familiar with the subject area and having a short presentation plan written down on paper can make you unbeatable.

Then, if the presentation can’t be displayed because of some technical difficulties, your self-confidence won’t be affected too much. Such issues are unpredictable, so being flexible and relying on your own knowledge is key for a successful speech, and for being perceived as an expert. A visual presentation should just be a bonus to help keep your listeners engaged and to help refresh your key takeaways on the go.

Facing such problems might be more stressful when hosting webinars, for which visuals especially help for interacting with your audience. To mitigate the risk of any problems, check that all the features are working smoothly well in advance. If any difficulties do occur just before your presentation is due to begin, don’t waste too much time on trying to fix them. Instead, give the participants a verbal lecture only and promise to send a wrap-up or the whole presentation via email marketing content afterwards. Empower your webinar with appealing visuals, but don’t rely on them completely. Your audience is there to hear what you have to say, and the presentation is just an added extra.

6 public speaking mistakes to avoid during webinars

#3 Too much theory, not enough stories

Do you recall those classes when the lecturer was speaking purely about theory and skipping any examples that could demonstrate the topic? What you can achieve by following that style is increasing the chance of boring your audience with each passing minute of your presentation. That doesn’t sound very encouraging.

If you want your participants to remember your speech, don’t make it too scientific or theoretical. Try to jazz it up with entertaining case studies and stories. Ideally, your participants should be able to identify with the characters or the situation that you’re describing. Research shows that by adding specific numbers and facts, you get 20 times more chances to help an audience remember the messages that you want to convey.

When hosting a webinar, add only the essential, eye-catching information and statistics. You don’t want to overwhelm the attendees with too many details. Plus, give reading text from your slides a wide berth, as it’s highly unprofessional and is one of the worst public speaking mistakes.

#4 The introduction and the ending aren’t polished enough

Often when giving a presentation, speakers don’t pay enough attention to the introduction and the conclusions. This is probably the worst habit of all public speaking mistakes. What exactly are the consequences of such actions?

At the beginning, you might feel nervous or embarrassed, and thus forget about introducing yourself with a friendly greeting and a little chit-chat. This is what makes the first connection between the audience and the speaker, so it’s an important factor to make your speech engaging. Then, at the end of the presentation, you might not be able to make a proper summary, especially if running behind schedule. Omitting a question section might reduce the possibility of interacting with the participants, and thus cost you a few new contacts.

6 public speaking mistakes to avoid during webinars

Studies reveal that your introduction and conclusions are powerful tools to make a good, long-lasting impression. According to this research, a first impression is formed within an extremely short time of 15 seconds. Scientists have proven that, due to our semantic memory schemes, we tend to best recall the information provided at the beginning and the end of a speech or text. Enter the broadcast room in advance and check if everything’s working smoothly. Start on time, but first ask your audience if they can hear and see you clearly to make sure no technical bugs might disrupt your presentation. Allow about 3 minutes for other participants to log in and join the webinar, and then start the clock to measure your presentation time.

Take time to connect with your audience and write down in advance how much time you want to spend on each part of the presentation, then try to stick to this plan. In general, your introduction should take up to 10% of the total presentation length. This is the best opportunity to grab attention and develop trust with your audience, so make the most of it.

#5 Monologue instead of interactions

Keeping your audience engaged is the biggest challenge of giving a presentation, but also your greatest weapon. One of the worst public speaking mistakes is giving a monotonous lecture instead of working with the participants. This might seem hard when performing on stage, but when hosting a webinar and not seeing the attendees’ faces it becomes an even bigger struggle. Thankfully, there’s a whole host of features available to help you boost interactions with the audience of a webinar - maybe even more so than for a real-life event.

During a webinar, you can ask attendees to work in groups in breakout rooms and discuss the topic. Give them short tasks to keep them even more active and boost their creativity. To enable real-time interactions, tell the participants to draw something on the screen that you’re sharing when they have a specific question. The options are various, so cutting to the chase, here is a short guide on creating interactions during a webinar. And to avoid any bloopers, choose what your participants can see when sharing your screen.

#6 Running out of time and prolonging

If you feel like a duck to water in regard to a particular topic, it might be alluring to tell every single thing you know about it. Although the content might be truly gripping, it’s better to make a few shorter performances concerning a huge subject. That’s because the average attention span lasts only 8 to 10 minutes. If your speech carries on much longer, it probably will be remembered vaguely.

There’s a trick to breaking this rule - try interlacing your speech by showing visual materials, asking questions and creating short tasks for the participants to keep them engaged. Finishing on time also shows your audience that you respect their time and thus paints you in a positive light. Try to keep your presentation short but sweet and give your participants the possibility to ask questions. If you completely exhaust a topic, you might take away the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with some of the participants later. Sometimes less is more. The secret to sticking to the schedule is simple - just set a timer and leave it next to your computer where you can see it while hosting the webinar. Plan how much time to spend on each part of the presentation and check-up on yourself during the live stream. Then just finish it and invite your audience to use e-mails or a live chat to ask you extra questions.

Here you can read more about the perfectly balanced length of a webinar.

6 public speaking mistakes to avoid during webinars

Does body language matter when hosting a webinar?

When analyzing common mistakes made while public speaking, one question often arises - what about body language? It’s a wide topic that has been analyzed and discussed by many sources concerning public speaking or just having one-to-one conversations. But when it comes to webinars, it’s a different kettle of fish.

As the field of view is limited, your whole person is usually not visible. In most cases, speakers prefer sitting to standing, because they have better access to their computer and thus to webinar settings. This indicates a portrait type of view. The sitting position might be more comfortable and relaxing for you as a presenter, as well as less tiring. Nevertheless, don’t ignore the power of body language. Research shows that the weight of non-verbal communication among other presentation elements is a whopping 55%.

Although you can’t move much when hosting a webinar, use the computer cursor to show what you would normally point at with a finger to make sure everything is clear. Remember about controlling your facial expressions too. You have to be flexible enough to find the golden mean and avoid rigidity of your body.

A short guide to being a fearless public speaking superhero

The more you train, the better you get - this principle applies to most things in life, as it does here. To become a top-notch speaker, try implementing the methods used by leading entrepreneurs, choose those that work for you personally and create your own techniques. It’s often all about confidence and a positive mindset. Present with an inner smile and control your breathing, as doing so can help calm your nerves. Above all, keep in mind that it’s not a fight-or-flight situation, so don’t discourage yourself if a minor inconvenience happens.

Here are the main takeaways to avoid public speaking mistakes:

  • familiarize yourself with the features provided by your webinar tool to make the most of it,
  • watch other webinars, listen to entrepreneurs and learn from them,
  • remember about interactions, storytelling and authenticity,
  • know your content by heart, practice it and be ready to answer questions,
  • vary your tone and voice dynamics to avoid monotony.

To make the most of your webinars, choose an omnichannel system that can help you take your digital presentations to the next level. LiveWebinar lets you use some of its features for free before you decide to switch to the pro version - you can test it for 14 days without charge. Maybe it will be a match for you?


Ola Czmut
Ola Czmut

Happily combines a love of writing and new technology as a copywriter, and enjoys the puzzle of putting together a good article. In her spare time she likes to catch up on the latest, greatest books, bake chocolate chip cookies and ponder her next travel destination.

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