The allure of virtual events has waned, and attendees are looking for the excitement of live events while remaining in their pajamas. Online events and webinars are a dime a dozen now. You must be more than just a talking head on Zoom boringly cycling through a PowerPoint webinar presentation to find your audience. We need to transform your live webinar into an engaging and interactive one.
An engaging webinar requires more effort than being a subject matter expert and generating presentation slides. We need to be mindful of the audience's time and be aware that the audience has more distractions competing for your time than an in-person live event. Let’s get into how we are going to do this.
Engaging your audience
You will always compete for your audience's attention and time within the virtual event space. It is very easy for your webinar to turn from the primary source of focus to a secondary passive source. First and foremost, this may seem unimportant, but you must ensure your webcam is framed on you and that you are well-lit. It may feel like an afterthought, but the audience is here to have face-to-face time with you. The same goes for any guest speakers you may have on camera. To help with micro-managing everything, you should explore having a moderator or a facilitator. It is also important to use the right setup if production value is important to your webinar.
While designing, think about what you want your webinar to be about, and what will be said. You should consider moments that would be an excellent time to check in with your audience. If you go through 15 mins of information without ever looking at the chat box or creating any call to action, you may lose someone's attention to scrolling through some sort of social media feed instead.
What can we use to engage with our audience? The webinar software or webinar platform you use will determine what is available. This article will review what is available on Welcome to encourage real-time engagement. Remember, all of the tools and features we will go over are elements that can be used as a call to action during any time of the webinar. Be creative and experiment with these different elements.
Polls are a super simple way to do a variety of things. You could use them as an icebreaker at the beginning of the event, create quizzes between topics, or even check the temperature of how the content is being received. Asking the audience questions periodically will help keep the audience's attention and help ensure the webinar topic is being absorbed. Or you may want to find out once and for all, “is cheesecake a pie or a cake?”
Creating time during the webinar for a Q&A session is a great way to create an organized space for the audience to engage with the speakers. A Q&A session will allow the audience to feel invested in the time spent with you in a live webinar. Welcome enables the audience to vote on each other's questions, which helps to turn an individual experience into a collective webinar experience.
Call to Action (CTA)
Creating a call to action is an easy way to ask the audience to participate. The level of effort you are asking the audience to commit can vary. It can range from clicking a link to access a handout, or a case study regarding your topic; or filling out a form to join a newsletter. Within Welcome, we’ve made it easy to generate CTA assets allowing you to create clickable links and QR codes for the webinar stage.
Face to Face Interactions
The human connection is one of the most challenging hurdles in a virtual webinar vs. a live event. How do we answer this common complaint? Let’s take Q&A one step further. How about bringing the audience member who asked the question onto the stage! Now we can not only answer questions, but engage with the audience in a more meaningful and personal way. Audience participation is a proven method of eliciting instant attention and engagement, even virtually.
We’ve talked about how to get the speakers on stage to interact with the audience. Let’s not forget to encourage the audience to engage with each other. In Welcome, we have two solutions to create this type of interaction. You can set up curated breakout rooms to pull audience members together for a private small-group discussion. Or, you can set up casual lounges that audience members can peruse based on the room topics you have set.
Lastly, don’t forget about the chat box! A speaker who can engage with the audience by keeping up with what is being discussed in chat will be leagues ahead of everyone else. A unique and welcoming environment can quickly be created by simply being aware of what is happening in the chat channels.
Putting it all together
Bringing it all together depends on the topic, the personality of the speaker/s, and how the webinar is structured. If the information you are trying to convey is dry and technical, you may need periodic interactive elements and knowledge checks. If the speaker on stage is very dynamic and seasoned, maybe less so. When adding interactive elements, think about what this element is trying to solve. Tossing the kitchen sink of elements for the sake of doing it can interrupt the flow and vibe of what you are trying to present. Ultimately, if you are having fun, your energy will inevitably flow over to the audience as well.
Learn how to plan and create captivating webinars, drive registration and attendance, and ensure your webinar program is a success