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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.