Here’s an activity. Sit back and think of the most enjoyable class you’ve ever taken at college. Or perhaps the most memorable instructor you’ve had. Done? Great.
What was it about that one instructor that set him apart? What was so distinct about their lectures?
I might be going on a limb here, but you’ll realize that invariably, the instructors who left a deep impression on you all had this in common:
- They were masters of engagement.
- They stoked their students’ curiosity. Stimulated an organic interest in what they were teaching and involved their students in a healthy exchange of ideas instead of delivering long, sleep-inducing monologues or bombarding them with a deluge of facts and figures.
- They encouraged them to critically examine the information presented to them and develop their perspectives. Their skill at engaging their students was ultimately what set them apart.
Their classes never felt like a lecture; they were always appeared to be more of a conversation.
The same principle applies to webinars. Think of yourself as the instructor and your audience as a classroom of eager and enthusiastic students who have tuned in to learn and educate themselves. Ultimately, the success of your webinar will depend on how you’re able to secure their interest and engage them in an interactive discussion. That is your top priority and the key metric you should concern yourself with.
Now, this might initially sound daunting, but don’t sweat it.
Here, planning is the key to unlocking an interesting webinar experience for your audience. Sure, you can be spontaneous and think of creative tricks and techniques to engage your audience as you move along, but bear in mind, you run the risk of horribly messing it up and missing the mark entirely.
If you’re good with improvising and coming up with ideas off the cuff, great! If, however, you are obsessive about methodizing and planning things down to a T, hop along and we’ll share with you some helpful tips and tricks to get the engagement meter soaring for your webinar.
1. Pick a Compelling Webinar Topic
Would you pick a course whose subject matter doesn’t appeal to you? Or a book whose back-cover copy doesn’t paint a compelling picture? Not really.
Similarly, no one would be interested in tuning into your webinar if the topic you’ve chosen doesn’t resonate with them or isn’t relevant to their interests. Here’s what you need to find out first. Who’s your target audience?
Once you’ve pinpointed your target audience, you can proceed to develop a ‘buyer persona’ for them. What interests them? What are they looking to learn about? Is there any current topic or industry trend that they’d want to know more about? Instead of settling for something banal or generic, pick something more specialized that holds direct and immediate relevance for your target audience.
However, also be sure that the topic you pick isn’t just one that might appeal to your target audience but also one that you can claim a substantial amount of proficiency in. That’s the only way you can establish your expertise in the field and garner credibility.
Once you’ve locked the topic, approach it methodically. When it comes to your delivery, make a conscious effort to go beyond a mere narration or a plain exposition of facts, figures, and information. Instead, make the delivery exploratory. Establish a problem and explore how it can be solved in a step by step fashion, encouraging your viewers to chip in and volunteer their concerns and opinions.
You must be sure that the topic under discussion is in some way bringing your audience some value; that they’re learning from your insights instead of just being fed a plethora of information taken off google. Do your fair share of research. Go through articles, inform yourself and then most importantly, flesh out your unique stance on the issue. As a thought leader, what is your opinion?
2. Have a mind-blowing slide deck.
PowerPoint presentations always tend to be a hit or miss situation. A superbly crafted slide deck can hook your audience from the get-go, while a basic, unimaginative one can put them to sleep. With webinars, while you do have the option of showing yourself as you deliver the webinar, most hosts tend to stick to PowerPoint presentations. Since that will be the main medium of interaction with your hosts, and what they’ll primarily be viewing over the course of the webinar, you must ensure that it keeps their attention through the very end. Here are some tips for drafting a compelling PowerPoint presentation.
- Use text economically
- Use attractive images
- Incorporate videos, graphics, animations wherever you can
- Use color but use it wisely, don’t opt for colors that are too flashy or an eyesore
- Keep the text relevant, crisp and to the point.
- Try to keep each slide a little different from the other to indicate that you’ve shifted to a different sub-topic.
3. The Power of Video
The internet is flooding with videos- videos in fascinating varieties and on every subject imaginable. You can thus be sure that you’ll find videos that tie in well with your presentation topic. Having a variety of media for your webinar helps in keeping your audience’s attention and makes the session much more dynamic.
Videos also serve as nice, a refreshing break from the monotony of speech or text and can immediately re-engage viewers who’ve zoned out. You could integrate these videos into your slide deck or simply access them on YouTube.
That’s not all though. If you want to go the extra mile and be ahead of the curve, you could toy with more unusual ideas for video usage during your webinar. For example, you could live stream a relevant event, like a product launch, or schedule the webinar around a live discussion to include that as part of your webinar.
4. Conduct Polls and Surveys in Real-Time
If you can find a way for your audience to participate during the webinar, you’ve mastered the engagement game.
To do this, many hosts get their viewers to participate in live polls and surveys. They can pitch a relevant question and take a poll during the webinar, the results of which can instantly be displayed on the screen with applications like SurveyMonkey. This doesn’t just hook in your audience and guarantee their participation. Many of your viewers could be potential buyers. Indicating that you regard their opinion and want their input can help establish a more personable connection with them while also giving you a chance to understand their inclinations and interests better.
However, it’s important to remember that you don’t force polls and surveys where they aren’t needed. Their integration should appear sensible and organic. Take polls where they make a difference or can prove a point or produce telling results that paint an interesting picture for your viewers.
Here’s a sure-shot way of gathering an audience for your webinar: announce a giveaway at the start or the end of your webinar.
The promise of a surprise, something fun and exciting, always serves as an effective pull when marketing your webinar. Most hosts don’t conduct the giveaway until the session is over to ensure that the audience stays with them till the end. There’s no hard and fast rule though. You could just as well conduct it, in the beginning, to start on an exciting and fun note.
6. Q&A session
You can think that you’re slaying your webinar, but your viewers might not necessarily feel the same. Maybe they came in with expectations that were different from what you had in mind. Maybe they had lingering questions that it didn’t occur to you to address. The best way to ensure that your viewers aren’t leaving unsatisfied with their questions answered is to hold a Q&A session.
With a Q&A session, you can directly take on their questions and provide specific explanations. Most hosts like to hold the Q&A segment toward the end of the session to avoid interruptions that break their flow. You can politely ask your viewers to note down their questions and put them forth once you’re done.
P.S. Your viewers don’t need to be the only one asking questions. To break the monotony and perk the session up, you could field a question every few minutes to your viewers or even share relevant anecdotes. This can help lighten the mood and keep the tone of the webinar conversational. Webinars that appear more like a conversation or discussion always drive greater engagement.
Webinars are an exciting and dynamic tool in the hands of the B2B marketer. Not only are they a refreshing break from the conventional methods that the B2B marketer has found himself limited to, but they are also showing tangible results. Bear in mind, that their success will depend on how you approach it. They can go either spectacularly well or horribly wrong and the difference between the two often lies in the degree of engagement the host was able to drive.
Pick a host who is confident, social and personable- somebody who can hook in the audience from the very start and sustain their attention and participation over the course of the webinar. If you’ve covered your bases for a high engagement webinar, then have no fear, you’re out of the woods. Dive into your webinar like a boss and own it!
At vFairs.com, we strive to build a top-class online event platform that will help event organizers make memorable connections with their target audience. We’re obsessed with taking out the hassle normally associated with physical events and leaving organizers and exhibitors to focus on what’s most important: engagement with the audience.
Get in touch with an expert to learn more about vFairs here.