Engage Online With This Simple Technique
To engage online with people, don’t speak to people. Speak to just one person.
When you speak to one person, it makes everyone feel special. Speaking to one person is more personal and conversational. That makes everyone feel like you’re speaking personally to them.
An Intimate Platform
Unlike big stages, virtual interactions are intimate. Even if there are 100 people on the webinar, your actual interaction is to just one person. And these days, that one person is in their home. Sitting in their comfy chair. Wearing their favourite old t-shirt. They’ve invited you in and if their cameras are turned on, they’ve invited you into their room. That’s pretty intimate.
It’s Radio Basics
This was a basic foundation that I learnt in radio. We were taught that radio is an intimate medium. Every time I turned on the microphone, I spoke to just one person. Hundreds or thousands might be listening, but the way I spoke was always to one person.
Even if a family of four was listening to the radio in the car, each person was receiving the message personally. So I’d use conversational language as if I’m speaking to the person in front of me, and not addressing hundreds from a stage.
Similarly, it’s rare to have a few people huddled around a computer watching a webinar together. Even if they did, they received the message in a personal manner.
Keep Tuning In
Think of the time you’re watching a webinar or presentation. When the presenter spoke in a warm and conversational manner, you feel more inclined to stay “tuned”.
How did you feel when the presenter was droning on with officious words and statistics, looking down at said statistics or worse, you know he’s looking at himself? I felt disconnected at best, turned off at worst.
How do you make it about one person? It’s similar to having a personal conversation, minus the touching. These are the top 3 things that make your interaction immediately personal.
3 Simple Tips to Engage Online
- Your eye contact sets the tone. At some time in the future, AI will configure our onscreen image so that no matter where we look, the audience will perceive us looking into their eyes. Alas, that time has not arrived. Meanwhile, we have to do it manually. That means, look into the camera lens when you first start speaking. The onus is on you to make that genuine connection with your audience. Look away at your notes after, but always start with eye contact. If you’re recording a video on selfie mode, do not look at yourself, please.
- Smile. It’s easy and does not take much practice. Smiling immediately breaks the ice and creates a warm connection. When a person smiles at us, we feel a positive sense of reciprocity.
- Use personable language to start off. Even if it’s for a formal presentation, remember that it’s humans on either side of the computer. Start with a personable acknowledgement of the context, the audience or even a personal story. As for the presentation, how would you tell a friendly colleague about this project you’re presenting? How would you simplify it for him? Instead of “stage speak” or an announcement, say it as you would in a conversation.
Delight and Engage Online
The more we’re separated by technology, the more people crave for that personal human touch. Formal and distant language puts a barrier between people.
There are several other ways to engage and hold your audience’s attention for longer sessions. Simple examples include conducting a poll, doing a giveaway, or promising something delicious at the end. The key is to offer elements to delight your audience. Creating surprise moments and sharing access to riveting data take more effort.
Learning how to use your voice and physicality to project a strong online presence requires practice over time.