Mastering engagement in virtual environments without the benefit of seeing the audience is an extremely valuable skill in today’s digital world. The growing use of webinars for lead generation, customer education, sales enablement, product launches, workforce training, thought leadership, and more, is requiring many presenters to make the transition from in-person to virtual presentations. Mastering the art of online interaction is therefore critical because the greatest content in the world has no impact if no one is listening.
9 secret ways of maximizing webinar engagement in 2022
Webinar engagement masters know that even though they cannot see their webinar attendees’ faces, they can still see their interaction or engagement level. Utilizing all the tools available in virtual environments, engagement masters can grab the attention of their virtual audience before the webinar even begins and hold them in rapt attention for 30-60 minutes. Here are nine secrets to mastering webinar engagement.
1. Interactive Lobby
Using a ‘Lobby’ with interactive features where early birds can wait is a good way to get the audience touching their screen and using the webinar platform before the event even starts. Some elements to consider including in the lobby layout are music, rotating slides with information on the event or announcements, open chat for an icebreaker question, a file share pod for attendees to download the presentation for note-taking, or a note pod with instructions for attendees on how to listen in to the event.
2. Engagement Warm-Up
Whether using a ‘Lobby’ or not, consider including an Open Chat in the webinar room before the start of the webinar. Use it to ask a simple ice breaker question like ‘what is the weather where you are?’ or ‘where are you joining us from?’ – the more simple and generic the question, the higher the interaction level. This will help set the tone for the event and let the audience know they are not alone in cyberspace.
3. Give a Personal Welcome
A crafty way to set an interactive tone right from the start and let the audience know there is a live person paying attention to them instead of a recorded voice is to ask them to enter their first name in the Q & A and then welcome a few of the attendees by name. This simple personal greeting will boost interaction throughout the webinar by 20-30%. This is especially true when using a moderated Q & A where attendees cannot see other submitted questions. This technique lets them know their presence is recognized.
4. Get to the Content Fast!
Housekeeping items are a good way to drive people straight to the black hole of their email where they will be lost from the start. Keep the introduction short and provide any tips they need for using the webinar platform as you go and only when needed. Adding a note pod to the layout to display answers to frequently asked questions is another way to avoid spending time on non-content-related topics.
5. Organic Conversation
Not every speaker can do this and it does take some practice, however, once comfortable, keep an eye on the Q & A and answer relevant questions or recognize a comment on the fly. This does not look like a stop in the presentation for a designated ‘Q & A moment’, which can ruin the flow; instead it feels more like a continual conversation with the audience. For instance, verbally agree with a comment by using the person’s first name and keep on going with the presentation. Or perhaps someone needs clarification on an acronym used or a point just made. The use of Q&A will grow astronomically if you can master this.
6. Value Audience Input
Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves. Find points within the presentation to encourage the audience to think of ways the topic relates to them personally. Engaging them in a more personal way will help them remember the content and engage their minds around the webinar topic. Ask them for their experience with the topic being discussed, or have them share their related insights or learning. The use of a Poll or Open Chat is a good way to collect this feedback and get them to interact with the topic and learn from each other.
7. Inter-Audience Interaction
Think about dividing up the audience and asking them to provide the pros and cons of something related to the presentation, or ask each group to brainstorm and provide input on separate topics. Then recognize some of the ideas and feedback received. Using multiple Chat pods is a great way to set this up and can be prepared on a separate layout ahead of time so the exercise seamlessly fits into the presentation.
Planning an interactive activity every 5-7 minutes throughout a virtual presentation will help keep the audience engaged, attentive, and more likely to retain the content. This could be anything from using emoticons to polls, chat, Q & A or anything that gets them touching the screen to interact with the webinar platform and, therefore, the content. This is particularly important for presenters that are not yet comfortable with the ongoing organic conversational interaction mentioned above.
9. Measure Engagement
If visual confirmation that the audience is attentive via their use of polls, chat, emoticons, and Q & A is not enough, use the Engagement Meter provided by the webinar platform to gather real-time feedback on overall audience engagement. Then go back through the presentation recording at the end of the webinar to understand at what points the audience was paying close attention or drifting away. This is a good tool for improving presentation skills, especially for an encore performance using similar material.
In general, anything that can be done during an in-person event can be replicated virtually – it simply takes creativity, planning, and practice.
Utilizing all the tools available in virtual environments, engagement masters can grab the attention of their virtual audience before the webinar even begins and hold them in rapt attention.
There are several steps to it:
- Using a ‘Lobby’ with interactive features.
- Use Open Chat within the webinar room before the start of the webinar. Use it to ask a simple ice breaker question.
- Ask the audience to enter their name within the Q & A to welcome attendees by name.
- Keep the introduction short and provide any tips they need for using the webinar platform.
- Find points within the presentation to encourage the audience.
- Plan an interactive activity every 5-7 minutes throughout a virtual presentation to keep the audience engaged, attentive, and more likely to retain the content.
About the author: Diane H. Wong is a content writer on essaywriter.nyc and a family coach. So she prefers to spend her spare time working out family issues solutions. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others and keep up with advancing technologies.