These days Zoom and WebEx are the ways meetings and conferences are being held. But how do you help ensure a successful program where attendees stay awake and engaged? Maybe even closing down Facebook or stop playing solitaire? Here are some ideas from experts.
1. Distribute a questionnaire before your webinar
Hosting a successful webinar comes down to planning. In fact, most of your event’s success is determined by your pre-webinar efforts.
In order to tailor your content to your audience, you need to know their expectations. A questionnaire sent out a few weeks before the virtual event is a great way to collect this data and ensure that your content will resonate and keep your audience engaged.
Here are some sample questions to draw inspiration from:
- What are you hoping to get out of this webinar?
- Are you interested in engaging with other attendees during the webinar?
- What topics do you hope will be covered?
2. Increase the learning experience by providing printed training and conference materials for attendees
It may sound self-serving, but it remains a fact that people learn in different ways. While some thrive in online learning environments others prefer printed course books, workbooks or training manuals in front of them. It makes it easier to follow the program and gives them something to review after they sign off. These materials can be delivered directly to office or home addresses prior to the event. Providing materials in advance can also increase your attendance rate as excitement about your up-coming digital event will be significantly piqued when they hold your materials in their hands.
3. Break the ice with a poll
Nothing is more awkward than joining a virtual space with radio silence. So, make sure to greet everyone as they sign in and thank them for attending.
Consider running a poll at the beginning of the webinar to break the ice between you and the attendees. Doing so will help you get acquainted with your viewers and make everyone feel more comfortable. Also, this is a good way to fill in the gap as people jump on the call.
There are several great tools out there to run a poll through your webinar. A popular option is a poll in the form of a word cloud where people’s open-responses are visually illustrated for the whole audience to see. Poll Everywhere, is a service that can be used to launch this type of poll. Please find a link here on how to use this application with Zoom and GoToMeeting.
Here are some poll ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- How would you describe your morning in one word?
- What’s the one vice you would never give up?
This is an ice breaker – HAVE FUN!
4. Consider bringing on two hosts
A long monologue can quickly get boring. Instead, break up the typical solo show with two presenters. This will shake up the expected dynamic and make the whole experience much more exciting. In addition, the content is far more likely to spark new and fresh perspectives. This type of webinar could be based on two presenters splitting the content or by having one present and another moderate.
5. Strategically plan for questions and a Q&A session
In order to avoid an hour-long snoozefest, schedule a few minutes every now and then for questions from the audience. It’s no secret that people’s attention spans are pretty short. Interacting with your audience by answering questions will significantly drive up engagement.
Although, questions are generally considered a good indicator for engagement, you need to control them. Don’t let one person derail the program trying to answer a question that is specific to them. Reword it for general application.
Also, if you are trying sell a product it is important to provide answers sooner rather than later. A potential customer is often not willing to wait until the scheduled Q&A session at the end. Furthermore, if one person is wondering about a certain product feature it is likely that other people are wondering about the same thing.
No matter in what format you decide to accept questions throughout the session, schedule a Q&A at the end. This will help wrap up the webinar and ensure that the attendees leave with the answers they wanted.