If you're wondering how to engage your webinar audience, here's a quick rundown of what you should (and shouldn't) do.
Audience engagement is a key measure of success when hosting a webinar.
You want to not only keep the attention of those who've tuned into your webcast, but also ensure that they stick around through the end of the presentation.
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How Do You Engage With Your Webinar Audience in 5 Steps?
1. Use a conversational tone
Most people don’t like to attend online lectures even if they’re informative, so make sure to keep it engaging by being conversational and not academic in your delivery.
Use a casual tone of voice and speak at a natural pace for better engagement.
When presenting a webinar, never try to be someone you're not. Don’t put on an “act” because it’ll come across as disingenuous. Always strive to be authentic — don’t hide behind the camera.
Never speak in a condescending voice and always communicate at the same level of your target audience. So if your audience is made out of beginners, try not to use advanced language and vice versa.
2. Make it interactive by using polling for audience participation
A very effective way to engage with your audience is to use live polling. Create surveys that canvas your audience for information that’s relevant to your presentation.
For instance, if you’re talking about three different approaches people can use to solve a specific problem, survey your audience to find which is their favorite, and then use the results of your survey to inform your webinar.
3. Create a list of questions to engage your audience
Another way to build engagement with your attendees is to solicit their questions during the webinar and then address them in your Q&A period (81% of marketers use Q&A sections in their webinars).
You could even opt for an interactive session where you let them vote on which topic they'd like discussed next or ask them to share their stories so you can weave them into your content.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to how you can interact with your webinar audience to create engagement using features like chat boxes and polling.
4. When talking directly to the camera, try not to read off a script
Earlier, we talked about the importance of coming across as authentic during your webinar, so keep in mind that reading off a script while on camera is a sure way to turn people off.
Having said that, reading a script while presenting slides off camera is totally acceptable, as long as you are not reading what’s on your slides word by word.
So, unless you have access to professional camera equipment like teleprompters (where the camera is hidden behind the text) you need to be able to speak directly to the camera without looking down to read notes.
Before you go live make sure you do several dry runs to get comfortable with your delivery.
5. Be mindful of your body language and gestures as an engagement (or disengagement) signal
Have you heard of the 7-38-55 rule? According to language experts, 7 percent of what we say comes across through our words, 38 percent through the tone of our voice and 55 percent through our body language.
In essence, for a visual medium like a webinar our gestures and intonation communicate the vast majority of our message.
In order to engage and retain your audience’s interest, you need to make sure you speak naturally and look relaxed. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be highly animated, but do so only if that’s part of your personality.
If you're nervous, your body language will not appear natural. Once I started watching a webinar where the presenter had a squeaky laugh at the end of each sentence. This nervous tick was so distracting that I ended up leaving the webinar room after five minutes.
In short, just relax and be yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make my webinar more interactive for my audience?
- Ask your audience yes-no type questions and ask them to reply via chat box
- Solicit questions via chat to be answered throughout the presentation
- Conduct polling to make decisions as a group while that you can then expand on
- Survey your attendees with information that you can then use in your presentation to make it unique to your audience
What can I do instead of a webinar?
There are many alternatives to webinars.
Some of the most popular are web conferencing calls, like Zoom meetings, Group FaceTime calls, Group Google Meet video calls and group audio calls.
Can the instructor see you in a webinar?
No. Webinar tools are not set up to use the webcam on the audience’s devices.
The only way for an instructor to see you is by setting up a video call with a tool like Zoom Meetings or FaceTime.
How do you make virtual events more fun?
An effective way to make virtual events more fun is by interacting with your audience. For example, most webinar platforms offer surveying and polling functionality.
How do you engage your audience?
The best way to engage with a webinar audience is to solicit questions that you will then answer throughout your presentation.
Final Words on Audience Engagement
Engaging your webinar audience is easy to do once you've learned the tricks of the trade.
Follow the above 5 steps and don't stress out about getting all the details right. Just relax and enjoy the process!