Being invited as a guest on a webinar or discussion panel is great way to boost your profile, and your company’s, but are you making the most of the opportunity?
- How can you make sure your contributions are the ones the audience remember?
- I liken it to being questioned by a journalist – if you knew you were going to be grilled by a reporter you wouldn’t go in unprepared, would you?
- With that in mind here is a list of a few things you can do to make sure you make the most of your time in the spotlight.
1) Turn up!
Okay this is fairly obvious – but you’d be surprised how many panellists don’t show up because something “urgent” came up at the last minute. This is a sure-fire way to annoy the organisers and make them reluctant to use you again. They booked you not the bloke from finance.
2) Be interesting.
You’ve been booked to have a point of view and to share your insights – so don’t be boring! What can you tell the audience that is new, different or counter intuitive? Conference and webinar audiences are normally well informed so they are looking for extra value, it’s your job to provide it.
The best way to be interesting is to think in advance about what you’ll say. Preparation is key. If you’re struggling for ideas ask your colleagues. What are they seeing in your industry? What has got them excited? Annoyed? Surprised? You can’t wing this – do your research before the big day.
4) Think about the questions.
As part of your preparation work out what questions you could be asked. Your starting point is the subject of the discussion. Contact the organisers to find out what they are looking for. Where do they see the conversation going? If you know the questions you can prepare interesting answers.
5) Know your panellists.
Who are you on with? Are they supportive of your ideas or are they anti? Find out what their point of view is, so that you can prepare answers that add depth if they steal your thunder or can counter their arguments if they go on the attack.
6) Be succinct.
Don’t waffle. This is not your opportunity to set out your world-view. The audience and your panel host want entertaining, informative but short answers.
7) Get stuck in.
Nothing makes a discussion come alive more than an argument. So, if you disagree with a point, say so and set out why. However, be aware you will have made an enemy who will be gunning for you from this point. Be prepared for incoming fire. (By the way your panel host will be happy if a row ensues – it’s good entertainment and makes their job easier – as long as it doesn’t become too heated)
8) Promote, promote, promote.
If you’re active on social media promote your appearance in the run up to the event. The organisers will love this. So tweet regularly. Why not write an article for LinkedIn touching on some of the points you’ll be making on the day? This can be promoted by you, your communications team and the organisers. After the event, why not write a follow up article? Perhaps the organisers took a video of the discussion? Can you have a copy to share on social media?
9) Get some training.
The skills needed to shine at a webinar or conference panel (or even when you present and then do a question and answer session) are all covered in a media-training course. For instance, just been thrown a really tough question that you either can’t answer or don’t want to answer? The training will teach you how to handle it with confidence and keep the conversation on the subject you want to talk about.
Matrix Marketing offer courses in media training, which are essential for anyone who appears on webinars, panels or in front of an audience that asks questions (pretty handy for anyone who could face a journalist too). During lockdown they can also be provided virtually.
Paul Curran is an experienced communications professional, Paul leads on media training and content production at Matrix Marketing.
Since 2012, he has trained senior management teams around the world in the art of how to excel in interviews and how to make the most of any presentation opportunity – e.g. conference, panel or webinar.
Paul previously worked at the BBC for 23 years; in radio and then for 17 years in TV as an on-screen reporter. In that time, he conducted thousands of interviews including Prime Ministers, cabinet ministers, CEOs and the odd celebrity (most of them are odd).
As a seasoned TV hack, he knows the tricks of the trade and can bring authenticity and relevancy to all scenarios. He prides himself on teaching trainees how to stay in control of the interview and deliver their key messages. In addition, Paul is experienced in how to communicate in a crisis and regularly leads bespoke courses on how organisations can perform their best when under the worst of scrutiny.