by Dr. Carmen Simon Taran | January 31, 2013

• Create an attention-grabbing beginning and ending.

• Reel them in with either logic or emotion, depending on the nature of the webcast.

• Allow yourself to deviate in the middle, based on audience whims.

• Use more slides, not fewer, than you would face-to-face.

• Engage participants with cognitive or physical activities.

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The following checklist was created by Dr. Carmen Simon Taran, executive coach at Rexi Media ( Dr. Taran, an expert in online presentations, demonstrated these tips for INXPO TV's Thought Leadership Webcasting 101 Series, available on demand at

The MessageAn engaging webcast starts with an engaging message. Create an attention-grabbing beginning and ending, as these might be the only two elements that participants remember.

A compelling beginning might include an image with incongruity (creating cognitive tension in the audience's minds). Well-delivered stories or sobering statistics also are powerful intros that create immediate engagement.

Begin with either logic or emotion. If the audience has not volunteered to view your web­cast, present logical arguments first. People who opted to listen are more inclined to stay engaged until the end, whereas a captive audience becomes impatient when they cannot quickly justify attending the webcast.

Simple messages attract attention. Simplify by having only one main point for the entire webcast, supported by no more than three points. Remove elements that can be placed in a document and emailed later.

The structure needn't be linear. As long as you have a clear beginning and ending, and a solid main point, you can deviate as participants dictate. If you're too attached to a sequence, you might miss opportunities to be spontaneous, engage the audience and take the presentation in a direction that favors them.

Leave listeners craving more; conclude with an element of excitement or anticipation. They will remember and be immediately engaged the next time they view a webcast you present.

The VisualsA visual change must happen onscreen every 2-3 seconds to engage a virtual audience.

Use more slides, not fewer, in a webcast.

In a face-to-face presentation, you are the most important visual. In a webcast, the slides, webcam, whiteboard, annotation tools and chat box become the most important visuals. Switch among them every 5-6 minutes and you will have constant engagement.

Use authentic images. Engagement diminishes when slides are filled with clichéd images.

Occasionally, be playful with visuals. Viewers like to be informed but also entertained.

Use graphics that are likely to ignite emotions.

The Delivery
Engagement is created through participation, either cognitive or physical. Give participants something to think about, like an intriguing question or a puzzle linked to your main idea.

Give participants something physical to do, like submitting assignments (e.g., using software/hardware and reporting on the results).  

Create collective activities, such as a series of poll questions, where each group decision influences the next.

An appealing voice generates engagement. Practice creating melody in your voice by selecting occasional adjectives and adverbs from your content and pronouncing them with an upward or downward pitch.

Voice and gestures are directed from the same part of the brain. The more you gesticulate, even if unseen, the more vocal variety you generate, which in turn creates engagement.