The reality is we often treat webinars like a phone call. They are living, breathing experiences attended by an audience deserving your best efforts. If you are selling or training, you want results from your efforts.
A client recently told me his webinar was technically bad and visually embarrassing. He also told me it was a busy week so he didn't have the time to prepare properly.
The result, his welcoming comments, on camera, he read from his computer screen NEVER looking at the remote audience. He is an excellent speaker having mastered the techniques in "On-The-Job Speech Training".
He knows better, with sincere messages like "Welcome to this edition..." and "I am very happy to share this with you..."
Next time you are sitting alone, at your desk, hunched over, unprepared, what do you need to remember about presentations to a live, taped or webcast audience?
Prepare, practice and respect the audience enough to be at your best.
I texted a client staff member recently while he was in the middle of a webcast. I asked the staff assistant to take a photo of the boss while he was on the air. She immediately knew why I asked for the photo. He had no energy, was slumped over his laptop, closing his chest cavity, removing all energy from his presentation.
When I was "on camera" talent in my early broadcast news life, it was easy to train myself to look into the studio camera lens because there was a human camera operator a few feet behind the lens.
Today, the web camera sits above your screen somewhat removed from your content. Practice your material so you can look at your audience as much as possible. At least when you are being personal and sincere. Otherwise your audience will tune out.
If you can't break yourself of the bad habit, either don't use a live camera or display an appropriate graphic to cover.
I often place a tripod with the camera between me and my computer screen. The camera then is not an after thought.
Using the camera on your laptop is a bad decision. Consider the image of you and your ceiling. An HD separate web camera is always a better choice.
Have someone else deal with the graphics and other live images so you won't be distracted.
There are a number of attempts to create a "teleprompter" for webcams. I will review them from the floor on INFOCOMM or NAB in a few months.
Do you have a solution for the presenter unable to look at the camera during webcasts? Offer them in the comments.
Here is how you can own an eBook copy of "On-The-Job Speech Training". http://www.amazon.com/On-The-Job-Speech-Training-Ray-Franklin/dp/0615219632