Webinars have been around for years, but their utilization increased during the COVID pandemic. Companies are now utilizing the technology to its full potential to reach a global audience and engagingly deliver information.
If you've been working remotely for a while, you've discovered that staying alert and engaged the whole time is challenging. Marketers swear by webinars, and as more companies clamor to host them, people have become inundated with invitations to attend.
So, how do you make your virtual event stand out? Here's a list of webinar engagement ideas to help increase attendee participation and leave your audience with a lasting impression.
Zooming out of Zoom
While Zoom has undoubtedly been a game-changer, especially during the pandemic, many people are now experiencing Zoom fatigue. Staring at the same screen for hours upon hours for work, classes, talking with friends and family, and even therapy sessions have taken a mental toll on most people.
Concentrating is increasingly tricky when our brains rely only on verbal information. It's very similar to how you'd listen to your teacher drone on in class in the background while your mind is elsewhere. In this case, it's even worse because no one will call you out for it.
To combat the fatigue many are feeling, it's crucial to rethink the whole interface of webinars with more interactivity.
Start the webinar strong
Your goal should be to create an anticipatory and fun atmosphere for your event, so you'll want to pump up your audience from the very start. Think of the beginning of the webinar as the previews that come before the movie at the theatre. This is where you pull all the stops. You can start the session with virtual games, which warm the participants up to actively engage throughout the session. You can also share pre-recorded hype videos or do virtual pub quizzes on the event's topic to get things started.
Choose speakers with stage presence
Your speaker will make or break the virtual event. It would be best if you had someone with charisma, energy, and confidence to capture and command the participants' attention. Yes, you have a thought leader, an influential person in your industry, but can they passionately convey valuable insights through the camera?
Many industry leaders and experts could be well-versed in the topic. Still, your event will only stay energized if they can authentically communicate. Your audience can tell when there's an authentic connection, often through the speaker's tone, body language, gestures, and facial expressions.
People don't just want to hear information about the speaker's knowledge and expertise; it would also be helpful to include tidbits about their personal journey. This helps to create an emotional connection and a synergy between the audience and the speaker.
If you have multiple speakers for an event, it's crucial to coordinate rehearsals and ensure harmony. Your speakers should interact comfortably with other participants, so the audience is not kept out of the loop.
Go beyond the slide deck
While slide decks have been a great way to introduce the visual component during presentations, there might be better ways to go for a virtual event. We're all familiar with the awkward moment as a speaker struggles to get their screenshare working so they can share a PowerPoint presentation.
You can go the other, more effective way, using branded graphics to aid your presentation. Custom overlays, for one, will revolutionize your presentation. With overlays, rather than the attendees shifting their attention to reading slides, the speaker gets to present the content on screen alongside the audience. Overlays also help keep the content minimal so the focus remains solely on the speaker.
The bulk of the content should be presented through speech. Sometimes people get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information when the presenter overloads the slides, or they read them fast and zone out before the presenter gets to the main points.
Stage Kit gives you the tools and the power to create professional quality virtual events. Moreover, you get multiple engagement features built directly into the platform. You don't have to be an experienced designer to create beautiful on-brand virtual events. Anyone on your team can easily put together the branded assets on the platform.
Bring attendees on stage for Q&A
Q&A sessions make the event more interactive and more personal for the attendees. When they know that the presenter genuinely cares about what they take away from the event, they're more likely to be more engaged and more interactive.
Standard webinar Q&As usually consist of webinar hosts answering audience questions in a one-directional manner. This is different from having an interactive Q&A session. Interactive Q&As are built into the event to help facilitate a bi-directional dialogue. Meaning you can invite an audience member on stage to ask their question face-to-face.
Interactive Q&A is a lot better for your webinar. For one, the attendees won't feel like they're being talked at, as is often the case with virtual events. The presenter has all the information, while the participants passively consume what they say.
With interactive Q&A, the participants' input is valued and structured like an in-person question-and-answer exchange. As the event progresses, audience questions can be upvoted so the speaker addresses the most burning questions first.
Planning a webinar? Check out the Webinar Best Practices Guide to ensure your webinar program is a success!
Switch up the format
One of the major reasons webinars have become boring is we know what to expect. Most webinars feel dull because it's just 45 or 60 minutes of the speaker going on and on. Often, people find themselves distracted by social media or even shopping online while the meeting continues.
Remember, distractions are only a click away, so what will hold your audience's attention?
Including various formats is the best way to maximize attention and engagement. Don't just stick to speech and slides. Switch up the event's structure by interjecting a short video or two, polls, and bringing attendees on stage to ask questions.
You can also split the audience into breakout rooms where they'll engage in smaller group discussions. This can be a great way to get feedback from the audience to determine whether the event objectives are being met. As a best practice, avoid speaking for longer than 15 minutes without changing the format slightly.
People attend webinars to learn something useful. 70% of B2B professionals want to sharpen their skills with the latest tips, tricks, and best practices. Delivering value should be the first goal when preparing for your virtual event. Keeping your audience engaged is much easier when they find value in the information provided.
Polls, videos, and virtual games are great, but the content is at the core of your event. What is the message you're trying to get across? Soft-selling is key. The consumer today is well-informed and wary of overt marketing tactics.
As such, the goal of your webinar should be to showcase how your product or service is the best solution to a problem they're facing around the webinar topic. Don't make the webinar all about your products and services, as your audience can see through it.
Provide the audience with free resources throughout the webinar to help them further understand the webinar topic. This way, you position yourself as a thought leader, and they'll turn to you whenever they encounter problems that can be fixed with your product or service.
Measure engagement afterwards
Like any other marketing tactic, you have to measure the return on investment of your events. This should be a continuous process of improvement that will drive growth for your brand. The conversations don't stop after the event is over. For further engagement, utilize the testimonials, top questions and their answers, and presentation summaries.
To measure engagement, you'll need accurate, timely analytics. With Welcome's Analytics at a Glance Dashboard, you can quickly gauge the actual level of engagement in your virtual events. The audience engagement and other essential data insights are visualized for you in an Event Report Card so you can highlight areas that need improvement.
We are a webinar platform dedicated to helping you host the best virtual even experiences that will drive revenue. Our tools and features are designed with engagement in mind to help you connect with your audience at every level. Our world-class studio provides your attendees with an unmatched experience that will keep them returning. Get in touch with us today to schedule a demo.