5 Best Practices for Engaging Webinar Audiences

July 20, 2020 BY SIMKI DUTTA
Updated: April 22, 2021

Engaging webinar audiences isn’t always easy. Do you remember the last time you sat through a dull and boring webinar? You found yourself checking your emails, scrolling through your phone, and doing everything else apart from listening to the presenter.

The tables have turned — you’re soon going to be running a webinar and if there’s one thing you should know it’s that you can’t be that person whose presentation puts people to sleep.

No pressure.

Suddenly, everyone’s hosting webinars — do you want yours to be among the hundreds or one that stands out, keeps audiences engaged and leaves them excited for more?

Let’s take a look at how you can run an engaging webinar and make it work for your brand.

1. Start with an icebreaker activity

ice cream cone

Engaging webinar audiences can be trickier than usual seminars or events due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. How do you establish a connection with your audience when you are not with them? How do you gauge that you’re being understood or even being listened to for that matter?

These reasons make it imperative to deliver nothing short of an engaging webinar. If you want your session to be effective and drive results, you have to make them want to listen to you.

A great way to start the webinar is with an icebreaker activity.

An essential remote communication tactic, icebreaker activities help attendees to get to know each other better while facilitating open communication. They pave the way for a more casual and comfortable conversation, adding an element of fun.

Here are some icebreaker activity ideas you can use:

  • Get everyone to give a quick introduction of themselves
  • Ask attendees to show their workspace
  • Ask attendees to share a picture of what’s around them
  • Play two truths and a lie

2. Create targeted, engaging, and accessible content

Your webinar attendees are there for the content and one of the most effective ways to make them stick is by creating valuable, targeted content that is of relevance to them.

video call on a mobile phoneThere are two aspects to presenting your webinar content — what you say and how you say it. For instance, your presentation might be filled with great insights but if you fail to present it well, there’s no way it’s going to resonate with your audience.

Start by designing visually-appealing slides. Keep the text minimal and use impactful visuals in the form of images, charts, graphs, timeline infographics, memes, and videos. Apart from putting forth the message effectively, choose imagery to evoke emotions, and generate interest.

Stick to a simple, consistent, and accessible design and color scheme while designing slides such that it aids communication and doesn’t overwhelm the reader.

You should also look at doing live demonstrations or using whiteboards to improve your presentation content and keep attendees engaged.

Accessibility Tip
Remember to describe the visuals for members of your audience who may not be able to see them due to visual impairment, or simply a weak Internet connection. This is especially important for graphics that provide information such as charts.

3. Have a discussion

person with a megaphone

A one-sided webinar is a recipe for disaster because people are bound to lose interest and get disengaged somewhere down the line.

Always have an interactive approach while developing webinars and treat them as a conversation. While you might be the subject-matter expert there, you should ask questions to involve the audience and create dialogue.

While many hosts set aside questions for the end, that often loses steam. Instead, take questions and answer them as you proceed. If it’s a complicated one and you realize it’s taking up too much time, take it up one-on-one with the concerned person once the session ends.

Accessibility Tip
Provide live captioning for all of your webinars to allow individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf to participate fully and derive value from the presentation. It’s also always important to make sure that any audience questions are written out and repeated through a clear microphone to keep everyone on the same page, regardless of ability.

4. Run live polls

Live polls are multiple-choice questions that can be used during the webinar. They’re a good way to retain attention and keep audiences engaged.

Here’s how you can use live polls during webinars:

  • Enhance engagement and interactivity
  • Gather insights on your target audience
  • Encourage attendees to choose the direction they want the webinar to take
  • Collate feedback on the webinar
  • Get ideas for your next webinar

It’s important to ask one question per poll and space them well between the presentation slides. Ask questions that serve a purpose and benefit both you and the audience. It’s also a good idea to reveal the poll results during the course of the session to capture interest.

5. Offer incentives and perks

Whether you’re launching a new product, driving sales, or running an event or webinar — incentive marketing always works. It’s a powerful tactic that motivates people to take the desired action.

In this case, you want to attract webinar attendees, increase engagement, and improve conversions. Offering incentives and perks can help you achieve that.

You can either host a giveaway, give a discount code or free trial, or even offer a piece of content for free such as an eBook or demo video.

Make sure you keep this for the end of the session so it encourages them to watch the entire webinar and stay until the end.

Run an engaging webinar: the takeaway

Webinars prove to be effective lead magnets but it’s not enough to work on the webinar content and expect it to generate leads and drive results.

From planning the flow and designing the presentation to fostering interactivity — focus on engaging your audience and keeping them interested through the course of the session using various elements and accessibility best practices.

Audience engagement is key to webinar success. So, follow these five best practices and it’s likely to fetch you better results.

This blog post was written by Simki Dutta, a content marketer at Venngage, a free infographic maker and design platform. When she’s not working, she can be found refreshing her Twitter feed and binge-watching Netflix shows.

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