In this post, we share some best practices to keep your webinar audience engaged and make them more invested in the content you share.
If you’re not careful, online webinars can turn into long-winded monologues without a clearly defined strategy -- leaving the audiences bored and distracted. In fact, audience engagement and interaction remain the top challenges related to virtual events.
So, how to create webinars that inspire your audiences to take action and return for future events? And with several brands and companies making strides through webinars, how do you stand out?
Creating engaging webinars starts way before the event actually begins. Promoting your webinar is an excellent opportunity to inform your audience about it and pique their interest. Blog posts, social media ads, landing pages, email campaigns, etc., there are many ways to connect with your participants before the event.
Besides bringing you more sign-ups for the webinar, the right promotional strategy can also help collect questions beforehand. This instills confidence in your audience that their opinions matter, while providing insights into topics you need to include in your webinar content.
Additionally, engage with your registrants as soon as they sign-up for the event. You can send them personalized onboarding emails and analyze their email engagement to keep pushing qualified leads to your CRM. Lead nurturing is one excellent way to increase engagement during webinars.
Positioning can play a big role in how engaged your audience is willing to be during a webinar. Begin with the event title and keep it concise, catchy and informative. Remember, it’s the first thing that your audience learns about your webinar.
It should be clear so your registrants know what they’re going to learn and memorable enough to keep people excited about the webinar weeks after signing up.
Great content is nothing without excellent delivery. If you’re using slides in your webinar to deliver content, make sure they look great. Visuals play a big role in grabbing audience attention, and they can even help with recapturing an audience if they’ve gotten distracted. So, create a visually-appealing and powerful slide deck and back it up with infographics, charts, animations, and videos to keep the viewers engaged.
Pro tip: Try walk-through simulations to deliver your participants a much more immersive virtual experience.
The first few seconds after you begin the webinar are extremely important to strike the right chord in the hearts of your audience. To avoid steamrolling and losing your audience, start off right with a creative opening.
Start off with engaging with your audience. You could use gamification or animation. Then, greet your participants, introduce yourself, and outline the content that’ll be covered during the webinar. It’s also good to leave your audience with a quick question to break the ice.
For example, thank your audience for joining in and then ask where they are joining from. Then weave the responses in your conversation to add a personal touch and further the engagement.
“I’m going to wait a minute or two for more people to join.” Your audience should be eager to hear from you, not the other way around.
The value of multiple speakers can’t be overstated. Bringing in more guest speakers help drive audience interest, increase the audience base and webinar attendance.
Besides turning the webinar into a friendly discussion, multiple speakers also bring more insights and perspectives into the session. And, when your audience hears a shift in voice, it signals to them that there is a new piece of information to pay attention to, drawing them in.
So, to improve engagement during your session, invite more than one speaker to deliver the content. The playful exchange of ideas and engaging dialogue will also help you attract new leads and establish brand authority as you capitalize on the knowledge of various guest speakers and industry experts.
When properly moderated and allotted the right amount of time, webinar breakouts are fantastic. They bring participants together and foster connection, engagement and productivity. Using breakout rooms with a dedicated moderator in each gives your audience a platform to share and discuss ideas, taking learning away from the screen and into a separate space.
Utilizing breakout rooms can turn passive webinars into impactful conversations. It’s also a great way to energize the participants, surpassing shrinking attention spans and that dull feeling of zoom fatigue.
Ironically enough, a webinar strategy tightly packed with back-to-back content may leave the audience bored.
This speaks to the value of utilizing the element of surprise during the session. Adding surprises can keep the attendees hooked onto their screens. Such surprises may include inviting an influencer or guest speaker onboard – someone who wasn’t introduced earlier.
Creative use of audio and video clips can also be an excellent way to jazz things up during the session.
Alternatively, you can bring attendees to the stage and interact with them during the event.
You can also demonstrate your product or service and let viewers ask questions live. Working with a guest from the audience can keeps the session dynamic while adding an authentic feel to the event.
Running engaging webinars is no easy feat, but polls can help by showing the audience that their opinions matter. Don’t save your polls for the end of your session. Instead, use them throughout the event to re-engage the audience or even drive the content of the presentation.
Create a handful of polls that can be run during the webinar to pull the participants back if they seem to be drifting off. The key here is to ask compelling, relevant questions that resonate with the participants. You can run a live poll after sharing a big chunk of content to gauge their understanding.
Then, of course, you can add a few fun questions to bring that change the pace or break the monotony of a lecture. Display the results on the screen to generate participants’ interest and to spark a conversation in the chat. If the results are surprising, don’t let your audience off the hook - ask them to expand their opinion in the chat or invite them on stage to defend their position.
Similar to surprises, giveaways offer a surefire way to keep the audience glued to the screen until the end of the webinar.
An unpopular opinion here would be to start the webinar with a giveaway. Rather than holding off on the rewards until the end, you can begin the webinar on a fun note by announcing a giveaway. This will not only pique curiosity but will also help you improve engagement.
Some giveaway examples include:
A virtual whiteboard in your webinar is a plus. It enables online teaching and you can deliver content much more creatively using a dynamic whiteboard tool rather than static slides.
It helps you explain or even brainstorm ideas better during a webinar and facilitates effortless collaboration. In addition, a whiteboard tool lets you add text boxes, draw diagrams and even highlight important content besides explaining essential concepts. Real-time, dynamic visualization of information is a great way to maintain engagement with your audience.
Run Q&As throughout the webinar to facilitate two-way communication during your sessions. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re presenting, especially if you’re an expert on the content. Make sure your audience understands what you’re sharing and has a way to ask questions if they need clarification or want to explore a concept more deeply.
Usually, webinars have Q&As set aside towards the end of the sessions, which means it’s mostly the speaker sharing information. However, webinars can get a lot more interesting when your audience knows they can ask a question and have it answered right away.
Thus, real-time Q&As during different webinar segments work well to actively involve your audience in the presentation. It lets the participants dig deeper into the content you’re sharing by allowing them to ask questions when they want.
If you’re planning a Q&A-heavy presentation, plan to present about 10-20 minutes of content followed by 30 minutes dedicated to your audience’s questions. If you’re concerned about not getting enough questions to fill that time, write some filler questions to add to the Q&A anonymously to get the conversation going.
If you’re looking to improve your webinar engagement with more participants interacting with you and each other, chat can do the trick.
Using this simple component, the speaker or host can communicate with the audience in real-time. You can always ask fun, ice-breaking questions to help the participants network better.
Then, there’s also the option to challenge their thinking and test their knowledge by asking them to leave responses that serve a larger goal. For example, you can ask an industry-specific question like, what’s the one thing they would like to see in the near future? Such questions will also help you understand your audience demographics better.
With live chat, Q&As, and polls, running, it’s a lot for one person to run a webinar on their own. Interactive webinars need moderators or facilitators. Don’t consider a speaker or host a one-person army to handle the chat, discussions, and the general flow of the presentation. To help them drive the conversation meaningfully, have a moderator or facilitator ready to support the audience during your webinar.
A moderator will mediate the questions and chats as well as respond to questions. They can even exclude participants from engaging and prevent audience-speaker interactions from going off track.
Use music to jazz up the webinar sessions’ beginnings and endings. You can also utilize music to fill in the dead air while running polls, giveaways, Q&As, etc.
Similarly, adding audio tracks to timers or breakouts is an excellent way to catch the audience attention and increase the overall engagement of webinars.
Every webinar offers an opportunity to learn more about your audience and steer future webinars in the right direction. Before the session ends, share a survey to determine how much your attendees learned from the webinar. The key is to keep the survey short so that the audience doesn’t drop off without responding.
Once you have the findings, incorporate them into your webinar strategy to create better and more engaging webinars in the future.
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