You won’t find it in a medical journal, but if you’re one of the many who have experienced webinar fatigue over the past year and a half you know exactly what it is. Symptoms include drooping eyelids, loss of focus, drifting attention, and an inability to concentrate.
Fortunately, it’s possible to stop webinar fatigue at the source. Event organizers can keep energy levels up and hold more memorable webinars by sprucing up their approach with both on-screen activities and off-screen prep.
What we’re up against
A recent audience of webinar hosts, hoping to fight this insidious condition, was asked to name top challenges. Multiple answers were allowed, and the poll results are telling:
60%: I don’t know if the audience is paying attention
36%: As a presenter I don’t feel like I am connecting
33%: Presenters are nervous and not familiar with tech
23% They are boring
10%: People don’t stay on longer than 15-20 minutes
Most of us are dealing with natural uncertainty: even if your webinar has a few superstar participants who eagerly use chat or reactions to engage with you, it’s difficult to know in real-time just how many of your guests are fully tuned in. And about one-third of us aren’t sure if our approach is connecting, or if we or a co-host are properly comfortable with our duties.
These uncertainties reflect the webinar fatigue out there. In a perfect world, audiences would either be fully bought in or simply not attend, and presenters would have zero tech challenges. Here are some proven webinar best practices to cope with these obstacles in the real world:
1. Cover topics of interest to your audience, not just to you.
This sounds obvious. but if we’re honest, it’s not a given. Some webinars focus too much on pushing the host’s agenda on the audience. And audiences aren’t fools. They know when they’re not receiving fair value for their time and attention. So, they tune out or drop off. If you think you might be caught in this pattern, break out by hosting some how-to webinars that share your expertise, not your agenda. Or connect with potential audience through surveys and social media engagement and ask what they would like to hear about and what challenges they could use help overcoming.
2. Mix up your media.
Even if you’re an ultra-polished presenter fortunate enough to have a professional designer providing your illustrations, too much of the same kind of material can become dull and repetitive. Fight this by mixing up your imagery. Use different art and graphical styles, and don’t be afraid to throw in a reference that requires some lateral thinking to connect back to your topic. Having multiple presenters to vary up voices can be just as helpful as having the same speaker try to cover the entire topic roster.
3. Take a breath.
There’s a rule in radio that silence or dead air is among the worst possible sins. But in a webinar, a constant stream of information can burn out an audience’s attention before the session ends. And it could very well burn out your presentation energy as well. Build in some breaks and check in with your audience: polls, videos, and chat discussions all work well.
4. Practice, practice, practice.
And we don’t just mean in the sense that “practice makes perfect.” Although it is certainly okay for a novice presenter to feel they have room to grow in audience engagement. It also means making sure you and all co-hosts spend time practicing the technical elements and opening flow of the webinar in a dry run. Clumsy handoffs aren’t just unfortunate gaffes — they can yank the audience right out of the experience and make them doubt the credibility of the presenters. You can utilize GoToWebinar’s practice mode before going live. And if you’re taking on a chewy topic for the first time and aren’t sure the audience will connect with your message, ask co-hosts or trusted insiders to listen to you rehearse the material. Ask for feedback and take it seriously.
Learn more webinar tips and best practices by watching a popular presentation by GoTo’s Erica Maki, 5 Tips to Make Your Webinars Stand Out.