The Secrets of Engaging Webinars

By Jennifer Gregory
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.

You have the right software. People are actually signed up to come to your webinar. You even have a few funny stories to tell. But if you are not able to keep your audience engaged in the presentation, you will be just a person on the other end of the computer screen and your webinar will not produce the maximum results.

Use these insider secrets to host a successful webinar that will help build your business and nurture your relationships with customers.

Think Back to College Speech Class
Even if you have the most fabulous graphics ever on your slides and make the audience laugh, you need informative, interesting, and relevant content to make your webinar a success. Get to know the needs of your audience and plan content that will help them meet their goals—which will in turn help you meet yours. Make sure that you provide information that your customers can directly apply either to their professional development or their current job.

Think about what you learned in your college public speaking class and carefully plan out what you are going to say. You might even want to revert from everything digital to using notecards. “All good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end,” says Brad Karash, President of JB Training Solutions. “When making a presentation, think about how you can weave in your main points with smooth transitions.”

Practice, Practice, and Practice Again
If you appear unorganized, ramble during the presentation or waste time fumbling with the software, your participants will begin searching Craigslist for a new lawnmower or play Angry Birds on their smart phone instead of paying attention to what you are saying. One of the secrets to keeping the audience’s attention is to appear confident, knowledgeable and professional. You should also make a conscious effort to eliminate annoying speech habits, such as the dreaded “um” and “eh” disease.

Wayne Turmel, author of Six Weeks to a Great Webinar and 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentation, suggests that you have two full dress rehearsals of the webinar with the first practice run being at least 10 days before the webinar. “Rehearse with someone who is not on the same network as you are,” says Turmel. “Very often visual speeds and graphics look different than they do on the presenter’s nice fast LAN.”

Stand Up and Smile
At his first webinar Karash presented while sitting down and received only a 48 percent engagement rate. The next time he stood up and his rate skyrocketed to over 80 percent. “It may sound over the top, but your voice sounds different when you are standing up,” says Karash .

While you are on your feet, put a big smile on your face and be overly animated. “You may feel fake at first, but on the other end, you genuinely sound more alert, pleasant and fascinating,” says Karash.

And You Over There in Ohio
One of the challenging aspects of a webinar is to create a personal connection between you and the audience. So make the webinar as interactive as possible.

Karsh recommends using people’s names in the presentation when possible, taking questions for the audience via chat, and building in quizzes and surveys to keep participants engaged. “Don’t go more than 10 minutes without some kind of interaction,” says Karash.

After you sign off the webinar, take some time to critique your own performance and review the surveys to find out your audience’s opinion. Incorporate suggestions into your next webinar. When you make conscious efforts to engage the audience, odds are that many of your attendees will be back for more. Without a doubt, webinars are one of those things that get easier each time you do one.

 

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