The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Watching myself present (2): Webinars

I’ve recently been watching Nicky Hockly’s great little videos about presenting webinars to go with her e-book Webinars: A Cookbook for Educators – you can watch them here – and thinking about how I can improve my webinar presenting style.  I had to watch back the recordings of the webinars I’ve already done for a session I did at the BALEAP PIM in Durham a few weeks ago.  I was talking about webinars as a tool for teaching training and I wanted to check back to some of the comments and questions from participants that I’d found particularly interesting. Anyway, even though I was mostly concentrating on the chat box, I couldn’t avoid the video of myself giving the presentation. Mercifully, the hand-waving issue (see my last post) doesn’t seem to be such a problem in the webinar format. I consciously position my webcam to capture head and shoulders only, so I can wave my hands about as I talk out of shot without them being jerky and distracting on screen.

Thankfully, I didn’t seem to be guilty of most of the other webinar faux pas mentioned  – I wear plain tops (no stripes!) and I have nice neat bookshelves as my backdrop. In my last session, I did suffer a bit from the Darth Vader syndrome, with my mic positioned just a bit too close to my mouth and picking up my breathing, so that’s one to watch out for in future.

The real issue I’m trying to overcome though is where to look. As Scott Thornbury pointed out, to make good eye contact with your audience, you really need to look directly into your webcam rather than down at the stuff on the screen. I tried various different screen arrangements when I was getting ready for my first webinar and although I’m quite good at not looking too much at my slides, I find it a bit disconcerting to be talking just into thin air. Somehow it feels a bit less disconnected if I can at least watch the video of myself when I talk, even if I can’t see my audience. It also means I can keep an eye that I haven’t moved out of shot and that I’m not doing the dreaded hand-waving.  Now, with the platform I’ve been using, you can move the video window around on the screen, so I’ve been putting it as near to the top of the screen (and so the camera) as I can. If I position it directly under the camera though, it blocks the buttons I need to move on my slides, so I have to have it slightly to one side. Does that just make me look shifty? 
Any tips for overcoming this or do I just have to spend an hour staring at the little white dot at the top of my screen?

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