by Adam Arents, Learning Technology Supervisor, Rotary International
We have all sat through one-sided presentations where the speaker presented information, and the audience’s role was to absorb it. But webinars are different. Through the various features of webinar software, attendees can participate and engage with presenters and organizers on an individual basis – something you can’t do in a large general session.
Webinars have great potential to make presentations or trainings a two-way street, where knowledge, perspective, and experiences are being shared from attendees and presenters. This type of communication is successful only if the organizers and presenters engage attendees to step outside of the typical way of presenting and invite attendees to participate in meaningful ways. Before you can create a more engaging webinar, learn best practices for setting up your own webinar and tips for building a valuable webinar.
Here are five tips for making your next webinar more engaging for participants:
- Tell attendees what is expected of them – Attendees are more likely to interact if you let them know in advance what you will be asking them to do. For example, if you plan to unmute people’s lines, share that information beforehand so they can be prepared with a microphone and a question or insight to share.
- Put attendees to work with a to-do list – When people arrive for a webinar, engage them from the beginning by providing a list of items that they can do while they are waiting for the webinar to start. For example, ask attendees to send you a chat with one challenge they have experienced with the subject matter. This will give you an idea of what information is most relevant for your audience. Show the to-do list to attendees on your screen before the session starts so those who arrive early have something to work on.
- Get them talking early – Ask a substantive question that each person can answer from their personal experience to get attendees talking. This will get them in the habit of taking part in the discussion and increase participation throughout the webinar.
- Don’t leave questions until the end – Pause throughout the webinar to answer questions or solicit feedback from the audience. This shows people you are listening to their contributions and encourages more interaction.
- Use polls to guide your presentation’s content – Be prepared to adapt your presentation based on what you learn from attendees through polls, questions, and comments. This will make your session more dynamic and relevant to your audience.
What audience interaction or engagement tips would you add to this list?