Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Online Audience Engaged Throughout Your Entire Webinar

Webinars offer an ideal way to connect with an online audience that often surpasses live gatherings, which makes them the meeting of choice for many.

This is especially true for speakers motivated to connect with as many participants as possible in a single gathering. However, keeping an online audience engaged can be tricky. That’s why we’re sharing some of our key tips and tricks for keeping an online audience engaged throughout your entire webinar.

Identifying the Challenges

Although webinars offer significant benefits over live meetings, it’s important to remember that there are some unique challenges to consider when presenting a webinar to an online audience.

With a screen (and potentially hundreds of miles) between you and listeners, zoning out during a webinar can be commonplace amongst an online audience. Simply pushing the mute button on a session is all it takes to multi-task during a webinar that isn’t completely holding your audience’s attention.

In order to avoid the dreaded webinar “tune out,” you will have to up your engagement game during the session. This will ensure your online audience remains plugged in during your entire demonstration. Implementing several proven tips and tricks for keeping your online audience engaged throughout your entire webinar can help keep everyone on task.

When planning for success with your next webinar, consider the following advice:

 

What’s Your Point?

Don’t go into your webinar with an extensive range of topics and ideas you’d like to cover during your session.

Going too broad with your dialogue can almost guarantee you’ll lose the attention of your listeners at various points if they determine that what you’re talking about isn’t relevant or interesting to them personally.

When choosing the topic of your presentation, get as specific as possible so all users logging in understand exactly what they will be listening to during your time together. Also, know going into the topics selection process that pinpointing an outline that works for everyone is virtually impossible.

It’s better to develop a webinar that makes a significant impact on a smaller audience than one that covers far too much information and loses traction with a larger one. If you’re not sure how to select an engaging topic that will resonate with your niche, ask.

Consult with your team for ideas or send along a survey directly to your demographic to ask what they want to know more about so you can focus your event accordingly.

 

Get Specific About Your Benefits

Choosing the right topic is only the first step in successfully connecting with your listeners. Beyond the points you’ll discuss in your session, you will also want to outline why it’s your online audience’s best interest to attend.

Get specific about what each listener in your online audience will reap from attending your webinar. Seeing the list of benefits offered by your conference will pique their interest and help keep them on point with you throughout the discussion.

 

Command Attention Right at the Start

Don’t rely on a long buildup to captivate your online audience.

Make it your mission to command attention as soon as you start speaking. Avoid spending too much time with introductions and miscellaneous details.

Instead, get the intros done quickly, move on to an engaging (albeit succinct) anecdote and then dig into the meat of your presentation. Keep it concise to let attendees know right at the start you won’t be wasting precious time on monotonous details and will be keeping the discussion moving forward. It’s an excellent way to keep them listening.

 

Make it a Dialogue, Not a Monologue

allow webinar participants to submit questions and responses in real time

It’s no secret that the discussions we remember most are the ones we get a chance to participate in; the same holds true for your webinar’s online audience.

As a presenter, you have options. You can choose to speak at them, droning on (and on…and on…) about countless details and facts and risk losing their attention; or, you can speak with them, continuously asking for their input, feedback and opinions to ensure they stay plugged in no matter how long the presentation runs.

You can actually use your webinar software to help with this; today’s webinar technology allows your participants to submit questions and responses in real time. As a host, make moderating and integrating these comments a priority so your attendees remain attentive.

 

Stay Charged!

Don’t underestimate your responsibility to keep everyone listening.

Rule of thumb: it’s not (entirely) about what you say…it really is how you say it. Even the most compelling presentation can have lackluster results if it’s delivered with ho-hum energy. Keeping your online audience engaged is the key to an effective webinar.

Do your part; make an effort to keep your energy level up when speaking to keep your participants connected to what you have to say.

Turn nervousness into excitement by moving around when speaking. Also, whenever possible, create natural-feeling interruptions to help break up the potential monotony of too many consecutive slides. This will help keep your participants plugged-in and on their toes.

Finally, repeat your previous point before moving on to your next one to really reinforce your message to listeners.

The best way to guarantee you have what it takes to give a dynamic speech? Practice. Do as many dry runs as needed to really nail down your delivery to resonate best with attendees.

 

Give Your Online Audience Bragging Rights

Everyone loves a chance to show off what they’ve learned. Keep this in mind during your online presentation. If you’re hosting a training session, tell your online audience that there will be a brief quiz at the event’s conclusion for them to earn professional development credits – it’s a guaranteed way to keep them engaged at all times.

The quiz approach can add value even if you’re not hosting a training event. Use end-of-sessions quizzes to encourage participants to earn points, achieve recognition or even receive discounts off of products to ensure they are encouraged to listen to your webinar.

 

Diversify Your Speakers

Know some industry thought leaders that also love to work a great webinar? Ask them to speak at yours. Creating a panel of presenters who all offer something just a little bit different than everyone else will immediately build buzz around your webinar.

Most importantly, when you do go live, changing hosts can keep the energy up in your virtual meeting room, encouraging everyone logged in to pay attention to the information being shared.

keep your online audience engaged with diverse webinar presenters

 

Test Your Audio

Audio is important during any type of gathering. However, sound quality may prove even more critical during an online session than a face-to-face meeting.

No one wants to hear the dreaded, “can you hear me now?” during a webinar.

If one segment of your attendees are struggling to hear what’s being said, you may find yourself spinning wheels trying to remedy the sound situation while simultaneously losing the interest of the attendees who actually can hear you.

Before you go live, optimize your audio input options based on the system you’re using as well as perform audio checks to ensure your online audience gets the royal sound system treatment.

 

Manage Your Time Wisely

Always consider your listeners’ busy schedules when developing your webinar presentation. No one wants to log into a conference only to feel like they’re being held hostage for the next several hours. Those who stay on at a webinar that is too long (and even those that disconnect before you end) will feel resentful and taken advantage of.

Prove that you value and respect their time by creating a conference that runs no longer than 60 minutes.

As a general rule of thumb, 45 minutes for speaking with 15 minutes at the end for questions should provide a manageable balance for participants to remain attentive throughout the webinar.

 

Set Aside a Specific Q&A Section

You should always allow for questions throughout the session to hold listeners’ attention. However, setting aside time near the end of the event for a final question and answer period can keep attendees listening for the whole webinar.

When sending out an agenda, be sure to list out the different Q&A segments you plan to host. This will help your online audience know that it’s worth staying until the very end to ask their questions. It will also let them know that they will be able to hear what others may inquire about after hearing your presentation in its entirety.

Worried no one will have anything to ask? Fret not; come prepared with some of your own relevant questions to build momentum. Chances are, the rest of your attendees will follow suit.

 

Save the Best for Last

Reward your attendees for tuning in throughout your entire presentation.

After setting aside time for a thorough question and answer segment, you may want to consider offering a giveaway of some sort.

Let participants know that at the end of the discussion, listeners will receive an added perk.  Examples include: free resources, promotional discounts or even access to exclusive products.

In short, never underestimate the power of the freebie to keep your online audience engaged throughout your entire webinar.

 

Conclusion

There are many ways to engage an online audience during your entire webinar. If you use the suggestions above, you’re guaranteed to host a successful online event from start to finish.

If you’re looking for powerful webinar software, BigMarker can help. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today. Or send us a message if you have a question.

 

The Keys To Preparing And Managing A Webinar Panel Discussion

A successful webinar seamlessly incorporates several audio and visual components for a collective final presentation that builds sustainable brand exposure, recognition, and loyalty. Slides, graphics, images, Q&A sessions and live webinar panel discussions are just some of the many segments you may find in an effective webinar.

Today, we’re focusing our attention on webinar panel discussions. Webinar panel discussions deliver extensive audience influence and session value, which makes them an incredibly valuable form of content. However, the thought of coordinating schedules and planning an outline for multiple presenters can even overwhelm seasoned webinar hosts.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Continue reading for a compiled a list of easy-to-follow tips and tricks to help you plan and execute a successful webinar panel discussion.

Phase I: Plan For Success With a Webinar Panel Discussion Before the Event

 

Knowing a few tips on how to effectively implement a webinar panel discussion can streamline the process and ensure you don’t miss out on the advantages offered when using this webinar strategy. When planning your next webinar panel, keep these key suggestions in mind to optimize results, both for your audience as well as your speakers. Begin with pre-show pointers, such as:

 

Consider Audience First

Consider your webinar audience when hosting a webinar panel discussion
Give the audience what it wants!

The first step in planning a successful webinar panel discussion? Think about your audience.

Oftentimes, a session host may fill the time with personal contacts and affiliates who may not have anything relevant to offer to listeners. Consider the goal of your event (aka – the reason why people have signed up to begin with).

Knowing the purpose of your webinar panel will keep you focused on finding panelists who add to the core conversation, not detract due to their own personal agenda.

Some webinar hosts find that best way to focus on the audience is to ask for their input.

Having numerous panelists can mean running long on time, or missing critical topics altogether. Before your session, reach out to both potential and existing registrants to inquire about what they’d like to see and hear most when the tune in. Online surveys and emails can go a long way in letting listeners know that you value their time as well as their input.

 

Select The Right Speakers

Once you recognize what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s time to create your list of prospective webinar panel speakers. One of the biggest benefits to hosting a webinar panel is that you get to choose the best speakers for your cause.

Don’t settle for simply scrolling through options you already have a professional relationship with.

Dream big and be bold. If there are industry experts who you know can add value to your session, reach out and ask if they’d be willing to participate. Adding well-known names to your agenda increases registration numbers as well as actual attendance on game day.

Additionally, don’t go for a webinar panel of speakers who will all offer the same thing, or agree on everything. Diversify your discussion by including presenters with varying perspectives and opinions.

Convening a wide range of viewpoints can encourage active discussion and debate, both with each other as well as with members of your audience.

 

Get To Your Pre-Game Preppin’

Anyone who has ever hosted a webinar understands that strategic preparation plays a vital role in overall success.

This holds true when including a webinar panel discussion. As soon as you have your list of presenters, you will want to begin coordinating the schedule, pinpointing individual strengths, and itemizing key objectives.

Some relevant tips when you get to prepping include:

  • Know your time: Putting together an outline that sticks to the time allotted can prove challenging. Don’t wing everyone’s time slot. Put together a very specific outline of speaking order as well as amount of speaking time so nothing’s left to chance when you go live. Your audience will appreciate knowing that you are sensitive to their busy schedules and routines.

Pro tip: Tell your webinar panel speakers ahead of time that you’ll send them a conspicuous signal (such as a private chat message) a few minutes before their time is done to keep them on track.

  • Do your topic research: Just because you aren’t carrying the conversation, doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to it as needed. Prepare for the webinar panel by carefully researching the topics being covered throughout your webinar. Your insight or varying perspective can add a new layer of interest with your audience.
  • Prepare slides: Yes, you will want your speakers on camera when they are talking but you should also include some visual resources as well to strengthen the overall audience impression. Work with your individual presenters to determine if they will be providing visual materials and slides for their discussions. If so, you will want to have access to them before the function so you can include them in the master presentation. If they don’t provide slides, you will want to create at least one for them. A simple slide with their name and topics can add a visual component to their conversation to keep listeners engaged.
  • Create an agenda: Finally, once you’ve developed the speaking order and brushed up on the latest topic information, you will want to create an agenda to share with participants. Highlight at least 3-5 main points so they know what to expect when they tune in. Before your function, you will also want to provide a copy to speakers as well to manage their expectations.

 

Plan Your Opening

You may or may not be the main attraction at your webinar panel discussion; however, it’s still your webinar panel discussion. As the host, you will have certain responsibilities to your audience – effectively opening the session is one such obligation.

Once again, don’t wing it or you may risk losing them before you even get started. Plan ahead and get creative with your session opening.

Don’t simply reiterate the topic ideas; give a brief overview that details the value offered during the session as well as highlight any important instructions they will need as the event progresses. Your opening is also the time where you will emphasize when question and answer sessions will be held so you can manage expectations accordingly.

 

Practice

As the webinar panel host, you’ll want to practice as many event segments as possible to ensure a seamless experience.

While it may prove difficult to convene all your speakers for at least one dry run, it’s worth the effort. This is especially true if you will all be speaking from remote locations.

Even the most polished speaker may find himself struggling to effectively take over the conference from a technology perspective. A brief run through with your panelists can save invaluable time (and embarrassment) when you all go live.

 

Phase II: Plan For Success With A Webinar Panel Discussion During The Event

 

In addition to pre-webinar panel planning, you will also have to consider how to manage the actual event itself. Once again, a little advance preparation can yield impressive dividends. When you go live, remember:

You’re The Moderator

No matter how much planning you do, you will probably still have to moderate at various intervals throughout the session. Stay focused and facilitate as needed to sustain momentum and smooth out potential hiccups.

Most importantly, it’s your job to ensure all of your webinar panel speakers get their allotted time. You need to make sure they get the individual attention they all deserve. Stay on your toes to prevent more assertive webinar panel speakers from dominating the conversation.

 

Introduce Each Speaker

Speakers on your webinar panel should never have to introduce themselves. That’s your job.

Give a brief overview on each panelist that includes name, company, area of expertise and specific topics each person will address during his/her presentation. Not only will the introduction pique the interest of your audience, it will also help your speakers stay on track and get to their respective points quickly.

 

Allow For Q&A Sessions

use Q&A sessions during a webinar panel discussion

You should always include Q&A segments in your webinar to increase interaction with your participants.

Question and answer components can break up the monotony, captivate the crowd, and instantly boost energy levels (which, inevitably, do dip a bit as the conference goes on).

Don’t allow each panelist to answer every single question asked. Listening to the same answer again and again is a surefire way to lose participants. Instead, give 1 or 2 presenters the chance to respond. Then, get the conversation moving forward to the next inquiry.

 

Ask Your Own Questions

While you’ll want to encourage your listeners to ask questions during your webinar panel, you may want to consider having a few of your own inquiries on hand as well.

You can’t predict what will or won’t be ask once you go live. Having thought provoking questions for each of your speakers at the ready can keep the function progressing and offer an interesting viewpoint to your listeners.

 

Prevent The Dreaded Pitch

Some presenters simply won’t be able to resist the opportunity to pitch their personal interests and products.

It’s crucial to remember that everyone who registered for your event is expecting to focus on a specific topic. The last thing your audience wants to listen to is a sales pitch from every speaker on your panel. If your webinar begins to feel like a giant infomercial, you may suffer irreparable damage to your brand. (As well as lose participants at record speeds.)

Just before you go live, reiterate your expectations to each panelist. If you do sense the conversation sliding into the realm of unabashed advertisement, do your best to organically direct the discussion back to your original focus. Your audience will thank you.

 

Host Your Own Webinar Panel Discussion

At BigMarker we understand the importance of hosting engaging webinars. That’s why we offer modern webinar software with features specifically designed to build, measure, and increase attendee activity during your webinars. Start your 14 day free trial today to leverage our powerful webinar technology. Or send us a message if you’re interesting in learning more.

 

 

 

 

References

https://blog.clickmeeting.com/9-key-tips-for-an-effective-panel-discussion-in-your-webinar

http://www.eventbuilder.rocks/webinars-panel-discussions-10-ideas-make-look-like-rockstar/