People learn by doing, not by just listening. So in your next webinar, include lots of ways for your audience to get involved. Here’s a list of some of the most popular ideas.
Have you ever had one of those weird moments during a webinar, when you’re talking about your topic, but a discomforting idea pops into your head. Is anybody really listening? You can’t see your participants, so you get a lost-in-space feeling. That’s when you begin to perspire. And fidget. And stammer. Comedians call it flop sweat — when nobody’s laughing at the jokes. Your webinar probably isn’t built for laughs, but you need feedback. Otherwise . . . well, it’s just no fun for you as the presenter. And hey, you deserve to enjoy the webinar too. So with a little planning, you can build interactivity into your webinar and use it whenever you wish.
1. Ask a question.
The greatest danger is that you may leave the audience behind. And if they don’t understand something, they may experience that lost-in-space felling too — with a big difference: they can give up and leave; you have to keep presenting.
Sometimes all you need to do is ask for quick feedback. “Was that clear to everybody? Send me a chat message if you need more explanation.” Then watch the chat feed as the comments stream.
2. Conduct a poll.
Formal polls are one step up (a pretty big step) from chat polls. They take a little forethought and preparation.
The payoff is that the best webinar platforms accumulate the answers. Assuming you use multiple-choice or single-choice questions, you can share the results with the audience. Or not. Your choice. The real benefit is in the interaction.
And don’t think polls have to be 10 questions. Why not a one-question poll? Or maybe a series of one-question polls scattered throughout your presentation? Nothing wrong with that at all. It’s fun for the participants and takes the pressure off you for a few moments. Nothing wrong with that either.
3. Test your audience.
They’ll want to do well on the test, especially if you let them know in the beginning. So they’ll pay attention a little better and make it a point to remember.
Again, you can share results with a click, or not — your choice.
4. Start a discussion.
Now this one takes some guts on your part. Are you willing to invite a participant to get on camera sided-by-side with you on the screen then throw a question at you? If you’re a pro, you can handle it.
But you have to be careful. I wouldn’t do this with an audience of snarky strangers. But if you have a private forum or a community of registered users, they might really like this. And there’s nothing like thinking on your feet to make you a better presenter.
5. Do a critique.
This is an idea that simply isn’t done often enough. Audiences just love critiques. I guess they have a kind of reality TV flavor.
What kind of business could do this? Graphic designers come to mind. You could critique websites and blogs. Or how about a pet groomer. You could show the poor pooch with a bad do-it-yourself haircut then demonstrate how you could fix it. And speaking of haircuts, how about human hairstyles? You could really have fun with bad hairdos, followed by your total makeover.
6. Challenge your audience.
If your webinars are a series of training lectures (for example) you could challenge your audience to complete an assignment and send it to you. Then on a future webinar, you could announce who did the best job. Maybe award a small prize, like a Starbucks gift card — or a big one, like a yacht. Now we’re talking!
A challenge gets them to think about your topic when they’re not with you, keeping you top-of-mind with your audience.
7. Answer questions.
Allow participants to submit questions before the webinar or during the webinar via chat. Then near the end, collect all those great questions and come up with answers. This one takes gumption too, but it’s not quite as much pressure as questions coming from a live participant on-camera.
Several people may ask the same question. So for this technique, it’s useful to have an assistant to moderate them.
Interaction increases the value of your webinar.
You may be thinking: “How do I allow interaction and still maintain a professional atmosphere?” Well . . . maybe you shouldn’t take yourself so seriously.
Participants value real-time experiences, even if they notice a few flaws or stumbles. The web is such a “now” medium that people understand and accept that a webinar isn’t supposed to sound like an over-produced TV news program. Improvisation is part of the appeal.
So relax and get some interaction going. Your audience will love seeing the real you in action.
Got another tip for making webinars more interactive? Share it in the comments.