The effectiveness of webinars depends on the level of interest from the audience. The main mistake many speakers make is organizing their speech like a lecture where they simply convey information and don’t worry about the engagement and interactive of their listeners.
However, it is more reasonable to show fewer data and be more mindful of your audience to make a webinar interactive and interesting.
In this regard, several principles may be followed and several actions are taken to make listeners more curious and interested.
What makes a webinar interactive?
1. Frequent Changes
Human nature is very prone to get bored easily and quickly. This trend is especially pronounced in recent years. The more content is produced, the less time people dedicate to processing it.
The brain needs novelty to stay sharp. This is why speakers should make frequent changes in their presentation. For example, a speaker may just alternate formats such as following a lecture by a discussion, survey, etc.
But it’s good to keep the rule of a “golden middle.” Changing slides or format too frequently may be irritating and inefficient, as the listeners will find it hard to follow the speaker’s line of thought. As a result, viewers will easily lose interest.
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2. Exercises and Challenges
People accept information better if they are actively engaged in the process. Exercises that challenge the audience are an excellent way of making a webinar interactive and interesting.
Challenges activate the brain and increase its perceptiveness. What’s more, people digest information in practice better, i.e., based on a simulated situation.
The challenge does not have to be big: you do not want to stress out your participants. Educators on Coursera would usually include a small test every 5-10 minutes to check if people are paying attention. You can adopt the same approach in your live webinar.
When doing exercises and meeting challenges accordingly with the demonstrated material, listeners are more likely to understand and adopt new ideas. As a consequence, the defined goal of a webinar is more probable to be achieved.
3. Questions (Surveys, Polls, etc.)
It’s a great idea to ask questions and even make a survey or a poll for the audience. Here is why questions matter:
They help speakers find out the impressions of their listeners
It’s important to know the listeners’ opinions about the information provided and adjust the flow of a webinar accordingly. If your viewers say they are bored, perhaps it’s time to tell them a personal anecdote or show a funny picture.
They improve overall communication between speakers and listeners
Let’s say you hold a webinar about coding. It’s a complex topic, and it’s only natural for people to feel overwhelmed and confused. If you don’t take timely measures, you may lose your audience altogether.
So it only makes sense to pause your presentation regularly and ask your participants if they need any help.
It’s also a good idea to invite a moderator who can help you single out the most frequent questions and concerns of your viewers.
They help recapture attention and bolster engagement
The classic way to engage your audience and recapture their attention would be an ice-breaker. You can ask general questions such as where they are from, or if they prefer tea or coffee, as well as make more industry-specific queries.
Try addressing one person in particular. This will make your webinar room feel more like a real classroom, since by singling out one participant, you let your viewers know that you can see and hear them.
Thus, they will be less tempted to look at their Instagram every now and then, as now they feel like they can be caught.
In addition, by talking to your participants directly, you decrease the emotional distance between you and your audience, which boosts engagement.
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There is no doubt that speakers should take certain actions to improve listeners’ attention in order to increase the overall efficiency of webinars. Music is one of the most influential tools in terms of raising productivity and activating the brain.
Moreover, music is a great way to make a little time-out or calm a situation (for example, in case of heated discussions).
An appropriate piece of music may make the atmosphere of an online meeting more comfortable, informal, and friendly. In addition, it creates associations and contributes to a better perception of the information.
It’s interesting that video can generate 12 times more shares (see 12 times more engagement) than text and video combined. It is a content crime not to use this medium in your presentation.
Here are some of the ways you can include video in your webinar:
To start a discussion
While theoretical knowledge may be exciting for some, most people come to a webinar to learn something practical. They want to interact with the new ideas, not just stuff them into their heads. After all, if your participants just wanted to learn something, they could simply open Wikipedia.
Instead of going for hours about the benefits of 3D marketing and augmented reality, you can just show a video (see one for IKEA here) and provide a practical example of this type of advertising.
You can then ask your viewers to share their thoughts on a given case. Do they have any ideas on how to improve a particular marketing campaign? Position your viewers in an expert role, but do not forget to add your own critique as well.
To test participants
If you are holding a webinar on rhetoric, ask your participants to watch a video and spot the logical fallacies committed by the speaker. Let them type their answers in chat and give a shout-out to those who guessed correctly.
Your participants can listen to the audio and scroll their feed at the same time, which is not the case with video. The video makes your viewers more likely to devote their attention solely to your webinar and interact with you and the others.
Video increases the intractability of your webinars since users are encouraged to watch carefully, do tests and share their opinions on the things just witnessed.
Webinar services almost always include a chat. This is justified, since a webinar is more interactive if listeners have a chance to exchange comments and ideas about your webinar. They may share examples from their own experience and ask questions without interrupting the entire process.
Many newbie webinar creators make a mistake of only paying attention to the viewers’ questions. And while those are important, you should also recognize those users who simply share their positive experience with you. This helps build relationships beyond the traditional teacher-student model.
What is more, it will inspire other participants to share their comments and interact with you, since they would hope for the same acknowledgment.
7. Jokes and Humour
It’s impossible to overvalue humor. Firstly, a good joke boosts listeners’ mood. Secondly, it improves webinar atmosphere and helps each participant relax. Thirdly, it activates brainwork, consequently, increasing the webinar productivity.
But most importantly, humor adds authenticity to your performance and connects you and your audience on a deeper level.
The encryption theory claims that humor reflects shared experiences, helping people spot the insiders and the outsiders. So if you want to be on the same wavelength with your viewers, try adding some humor into your speech.
8. Two and More Speakers
The influence of various speakers may differ considerably. Some of them talk more emotionally, some are more logical. If a webinar has two or more speakers, the information is provided from different points of view and in a diverse manner, so speakers complement each other.
Let your speakers have a panel discussion. An engaging dialogue is like a tennis match: your viewers simply won’t be able to look away. However, make sure to moderate it properly since when views clash, a conflict arises.
You may also invite surprise guests to your event. However, this idea comes with a caveat: would you sacrifice marketing for the sake of a quick attention grab? After all, more viewers will sign up for your webinar if you announce interesting speakers in advance.
As you can see, passionate speakers definitely make a webinar interactive, enhance collaboration and teamwork.
9. Competitions and Giveaways
A good way to ensure that your participants stay glued to their screens is to organize a small competition or raffle.
Mention that at the end of a webinar your viewers can take a small test and win a prize if they answer all questions correctly. This will encourage them to remain attentive and interact with you and other participants.
The prize does not have to be massive. It can be as simple as a free pass to your next webinar, or perhaps a ticket to a personal meeting with you.
10. Personal Stories
It’s okay to be afraid of getting personal with your viewers. However, storytelling is one of the most powerful tools for engagement and interaction, and you should not disregard it completely.
You don’t need to get into gruesome details about your struggles if you are uncomfortable. Reveal what you believe best captures the essence of your brand and personality. Take your viewers on a journey from point A (having a dream) to point B (becoming who you are today).
Such approach will give your participants an extra incentive to stay engaged and interact with your webinar.
11. Prepare for the Unexpected
Each webinar should be well thought out. Participants differ in their interests and characters. Some think positively. Others are biased and negative.
Therefore, speakers should have several schemes in their reserve to resolve issues during a presentation, answer questions, defuse a situation and make the process interesting for each participant.
All in all, a successful webinar is an interactive webinar. And the key to success is demonstrating a positive attitude to the audience.
Assure them that you care about their opinions. Unsympathetic presenters are never outstanding. Inspire and engage your audience and you will definitely achieve your webinar goals.