by Lindsay Rutz
Webinars are an easy way to effectively present important information and content to interested audiences. They are flexible, convenient and a cheap form of communication that makes it the perfect tool for associations who want to offer more information to members.
However, it’s not easy to engage or make personal connections with your audience when a computer screen divides you. Speakers feed off the energy of attendees and attendees look forward to networking opportunities, so it becomes the presenter’s job to find ways to improve webinar engagement and preserve the atmosphere of live events in a virtual setting.
Here are five examples your association can use now to make improvements to webinar engagement.
1. Include Poll Questions
Incorporating poll questions into your webinar is an easy and effective way to keep your attendees engaged. During your presentation, include 2 to 3 polls questions that relate to the content you’re talking about, but also gives you feedback on your attendees’ opinions or current challenges or needs. For example, if your webinar topic is interview tips, you could ask what kind of interviews your attendees have done with the answers like: traditional, phone, video, case study, group, and so on.
You’ll want to ask multiple choice questions, since they are easy and quick to answer, with three or more answers for each question. Give your audience 20 to 30 seconds to answer – you don’t want to spend too much time on these since you only have so long to deliver your content. You can also see and share the results from the polls which is a great way to gauge where your audience is at and help other attendees learn what their peers have experienced in the industry.
2. Have a Webinar “Pre-Party”
About 10 minutes before the webinars’ start time, you could host a “pre-party” to get your attendees familiar with the chat box function and promote personal conversation. Sometimes attendees are nervous to use the chat box, so opening it up briefly before the webinar let’s them relax and get used to using it.
Ask where your attendees are from or what they hope to gain from your webinar as some warm-up questions to break the ice. Doing so will help you make personal connections with your attendees and also makes them feel included in the session.
3. Ask Engagement Questions
Another way to keep attendees engaged during the presentation is to ask engagement questions that require them to answer in the chat box. If you choose to do this, it’s a good idea to have extra hands on deck that can monitor the chat as you present and help answer questions. Asking questions throughout the session makes sure that your audience is paying attention or draws them back in if they’ve been multitasking.
You can also hold mini Q&A’s after the end of major sections to make sure your audience is following along, especially if the content is complex or lengthy. However, keep in mind you have set aside time at the end of the webinar for a Q&A, so you don’t want to take away time from that or spend too much time answering questions and run out of time to present your content.
4. Turn on Your Camera
Usually during webinars, the host’s camera is turned off and all attendees can see is the presentation slides. But, with limited interactions in today’s environment, turning your camera on and showing your face is another way to improve engagement.
Showing your face lets attendees see your facial expressions and body language, making the webinar feel more personal. They can see how passionate you are about the topic you’re discussing and create a more personal webinar experience.
5. Offer Incentives or Giveaways
Another easy way to improve engagement is to offer a template or PDF of content related to your webinar. Continuing with the interview tips example, you could offer a resume or cover letter template or a list of common questions they could be asked during an interview. Offering a piece of content gives your attendee a tangible takeaway from your webinar and an incentive to come back to your next one.
You can also offer a giveaway to your audience to increase your engagement. Enter the attendees into a drawing for a prize at the end of the webinar to make sure people stay on the whole time or offer it to only those who ask questions during the presentation. You can even leverage free social media buzz by asking attendees to engage with you on social media posts using a specific hashtag to be entered into a drawing for a prize, as well.