Today, online presence has a wide, global reach. When successfully built, it can boost brand awareness and attract followers, sales leads, customers and just about anything you can imagine for your business. One way informed companies are effectively securing their online presence is by hosting webinars.
When it comes to webinars, regardless of all else you do, if you don’t get the audience actively involved, you will lose their interest. That is the bottom line across all industries and topics.
The reason webinars are so popular and so effective is because they are an interactive platform. Attendees are being constantly engaged, that is the key to success. If a participant is drawn into what is being taught, they will naturally be actively engaged, they will comprehend more of the material and their retention rate will soar. If your audience is learning, they will stay and come back for more. This is the goal because this is how sales conversion is made easy.
Do not feel stressed, or worry about performance anxiety. It isn’t necessary to be a teacher of the year to host an engaging webinar. There are some easy engagement strategies you can follow that will help cement your online presence.
Make a Personal Connection
One way to break the ice is to have the presenter start off sharing a personal fun fact about him or herself. It can be anything from a favorite food item to a preferred travel destination, or even something the presenter can’t stand, like a song that gets overplayed on the radio. In turn, attendees are asked to do the same thing in chat form as participants continue to join the forum. The first few minutes are fluff time, as the group waits for everyone to gather. How well a speaker chooses to utilize fluff time is a key indicator of their ability to make full use of every valuable minute.
This fun, initial exercise allows attendees a laid-back way to introduce a bit about themselves. It also shows that this webinar is unique. There is a genuine effort to promote active audience engagement, you won’t just sit back and listen to a speaker.
Introduce Questions at the Start
No matter what the subject is, ask participants a specific question about the webinar topic. If the speaker is an expert on dog grooming, start with something like:
“Who here has a dog who suffers anxiety every time you take it to the groomer?” or “How many of you live with a dog that sheds a lot?”
Asking specific questions that likely affect many attendees in the group and gathering answers early on gets participants immediately engaged. They begin to realize the benefits of attending the webinar and are happy with their decision to get involved.
Keep Them Guessing
Lead up to your solution to their problem, don’t quickly reveal the information to your audience. This method is particularly effective using a slide presentation. For instance, you may present a slide that states, “The most important thing to remember when handling dogs is….” But, instead of finishing the sentence on the following slide, ask participants to submit their guesses in chat form. Be sure to remind them, there are no incorrect answers. Allow about 30 seconds for them to type in their responses. Continue the program and present the answer to the question. At that point, you may take some time to compare a few of the answers submitted. Always thank the attendees and give praise for every answer given. It doesn’t matter which were right or wrong, it is all about engagement.
Make Sure Your Audience Understands
A big mistake that many webinar hosts are guilty of is plowing through their program without ever stopping to ensure that each attendee was grasping the material. Are all participants on board? Do they understand the message? There is no need to rush through the workshop. Spare a few minutes here and there to check audience comprehension.
A good approach is not to let 10-15 minutes per slide by without asking if anyone has questions. A simple request like the following may make all the difference:
“Does the process I mapped out make you feel more at ease bathing your dog on your own?” Type yes in caps if this makes sense to you.
Ask an Existing Customer for Help
A powerful way to boost audience interaction and get them to ask more questions, specifically about products or services, it to include a loyal customer in the program. Invite someone who is a long-time follower who loves your company and the products or services you offer to join in the webinar. Encourage attendees to ask the customer questions. Your top-notch customer can then share positive experience using the products or services your business offers and encourage attendees to interact and dish out additional questions. It is not uncommon for participants to be more open with a person like them, who is not the presenter or an expert on the topic at hand.
Give Your Audience Something to Take Away
Get the most out of the impact of your webinar by providing your audience with actionable content. You have spent all this time delivering a valuable presentation, and many hours preliminary work, don’t let your efforts go to waste. At this point, the strongest prospects in your audience are very excited about your offerings and are ready to act.
Take advantage of the moment and fuel their interest in your brand by offering an eBook download, purchase instructions or schedule a product demo. After a compelling presentation, it would be a terrible loss if your attendees loved the webinar but were not given any further direction.
In addition, at the tail end of your webinar, allow a minimum of 10 minutes to make sure no questions have been left unanswered. It is also very important throughout the program, to remind your audience of the various ways they can submit questions, such as through email, Facebook or Twitter, or via chat within the webinar platform.