This post originally appeared on Digital Doughnut
If you find hosting a webinar stressful, you’re not alone. Even the most seasoned pros get nervous they’ll deliver a flat presentation that bores their audience to tears.
It may be easier to gauge your audience’s engagement during an in-person meeting or event, but webinars are the most convenient and cost-effective way to reach a wide audience across multiple locations. And if you take the right steps, it’s actually not that hard to captivate your audience and keep them wanting more.
Here’s how to make sure your next webinar is an attendee favorite.
Preparation is key. Don’t let your webinar’s technical features or set-up take you by surprise. Check that your webinar software, webcam, headset and Internet connection work perfectly. Secondly, double-check that all your webinar hosts and participants are equipped with the necessary tools and have the right dialing details. I recommend having a co-moderator who can run the chat function, help fill any quiet moments and offer technical support.
All webinar tools have different features and some even offer a pre-recording function – significantly removing the pressure of live presenting! Recent research shows that 26 percent of webinar registrants only sign-up so that they can watch the recorded version after the live event, so it’s key to record it.
Interact with the audience
Your audience is going to be tempted to check their email, browse news headlines, and multitask on other projects during your webinar. One of the best ways to keep them involved in your webinar is to interact with them!
No one is going to listen to a webinar host drone on for an hour, so build in time to interact with your attendees. Include polls or open-ended questions throughout the presentation. And offer time at the end for a Q&A giving your audience the chance to ask questions and gain further information on the topic that might need more detail.
Integrating genuine interaction throughout your webinar not only keeps your audience engaged, it provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about your target audience and what issues are important to them. Use this information to optimize your marketing messages and your next webinar.
It’s all in the delivery
There’s no denying it, public speaking is scary. But if you want to get better and feel more comfortable, you have to know how you come across when presenting.
I know it’s difficult to listen back to your own voice, but running through your presentation and recording it beforehand, will help you pinpoint the areas that need improvement. You’ll be able to spot rough transitions, recognize areas that lag, and see where you need to loosen up and have more fun. Be sure to choose your words carefully, speak clearly and don’t be afraid to add pauses and increase your volume to emphasize a point.
Remember, if you get bored listening to yourself, your audience will definitely be bored, so work on the sections you find yourself wanting to fast forward through. By the time you’ve run through your presentation a few times and recorded yourself, you’ll be more comfortable, and you’ll go into the live webinar with an added boost of confidence.
Have fun with it
Your webinar may be aimed at professionals, but that doesn’t mean you have to be painfully serious or dull. Prizes or incentives are a good way to encourage audience participation and keep things fun. For instance, awarding the most engaged participant a prize encourages attendees to take an active part in the webinar, pay more attention and ask more questions. This also makes the webinar more memorable for the attendees after the event.
You can also have fun with your slides and your co-presenter if you have one. Show your personality and play off your co-presenter. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with fun visuals. Pop-culture references, short videos, or a twist on familiar images will spark interest and help your audience remember key points.
Evaluate your webinar
When organizing future webinars, look at metrics such as webinar duration to work out the optimum length. Attendees have a longer attention span than you might expect, research shows that the average viewing time is about 61 minutes. Surprisingly, attendees don’t drop off during longer webinars and will stay for around 70 percent of a webinar that lasts up to 90 minutes.
As with everything evaluation is always crucial. Not only is it an effective way to assess how successful the webinar was, but also gives the opportunity to highlight areas for improvement.
Including an exit survey for attendees after the webinar will help to identify what people thought of the presentation, just remember to keep it short and straight to the point – so your attendees can easily fill it in.
Above all, relax and be natural as it helps gain the audience’s trust.