The Making of a Great Webcast Speaker

It goes without saying that if you are going to teach continuing education, you have to know your stuff. But the requirements of a good presentation go well beyond having knowledge of your subject—especially in an online presentation.

At CPE Link, post-event evaluations continue to support that a speaker’s presentation skills must be top notch. You can have outstanding knowledge (and score a perfect 5.0) but if your presentation skills are off, everything falls flat to the attendees. So, how do you ensure a great online presentation?  Here are some suggestions:
Rule #1: Mix it up! Simply reading your PowerPoint slides is the quickest way to earn a failing grade. Show a video clip, share a PDF form, show a related website, or demonstrate a software application. Give the attendees something with visual interest. Top-rated speaker, David Ringstrom demonstrates Excel tips directly in Excel by screen sharing most of his presentation. He even toggles back and forth between Excel 2007 and Excel 2003 to highlight the differences. David scores high! Larry Perry, who teaches a variety of accounting, auditing and nonprofit topics, often shares PDFs of key forms during his webcasts as he discusses the how and why to filling them out.
Rule #2: Engage the audience. Good presenters invite participants to ask questions and of course, answer them promptly. In his ethics webcasts, Art Berkowitz uses case studiesto set up various ethical scenarios and then asks participants to share what they would do.  This format scores very high with attendees. They love practical examples they can understand and easily relate to their own practices. A participant raved, “best CPE seminar on Ethics I have attended."
 
Rule #3: Give us some energy! Without a face-to-face connection with the audience, some speakers sound a little dull, but good speakers keep their energy level up. They stand up, walk around, whatever it takes to help animate their voice. Federal Tax guru, Vern Hoven adds lots of humor to his webcast presentations to keep people’s attention and keep things interesting. One participant said, “Great! Enjoyed the humor!! Will be back for more webinars with Mr. Hoven.” Another said, Thought Vern was a fabulous speaker who made CPE a little bit entertaining.”
Rule #4: Keep on pace. Rushing through the material ranks as a major offense. Having “bonus” material ready (just in case) is a better strategy than trying to cram too much into the core of the presentation. Pace may be one of the most challenging elements to master. Going too fast or too slow can receive poor ratings. And all participants may not agree. We have seen both “much too fast a pace” and “should have moved along much faster" on the same course evaluation!
Well, that’s the CPE biz.

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by Sue Anderson - Based on 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently program director for online CPE provider, CPE Link. Formerly with the California CPA Education Foundation managing key operational areas including marketing, program development, and distance learning.

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