All right! The big day is approaching. You’ve learned all about what goes into making a great webinar. You’ve got your webinar gear and webinar software set up, you picked a webinar topic and you know it like the back of your hand, so you’re ready to share everything you know with your audience. Plus, thanks to your excellent webinar marketing, you’ve got a bunch of people registered—some of them are even telling you how excited they are about it on social media!
Now you need to turn your attention to creating a webinar experience that will keep your attendees alert and excited about what you’re sharing.
My 10 Tips for Making Your Webinar More Engaging
Here are my top tips for making your webinar as engaging as possible.
- Set the tone
- Get interactive
- Poll the people
- Say people's names
- Create open loops
- Use pattern interrupts
- Ask people if they're getting value
- Host a Q&A
- Stay on point
Engaging Webinar Tip 1: Set the tone
The first thing you need to do to create a highly engaging webinar is set the expectation that it will be a webinar worth watching. Not just that—a webinar people will be excited to participate in, too. This is crucial: when you get people involved, they’re more likely to stick around, to pay attention, and to take action with you.
The beginning of your webinar is the perfect time to invigorate your audience and get them excited about the path you’ll be taking together. Start by giving people a roadmap and a sense of what to expect in the rest of the webinar. You don’t have to reveal your entire presentation upfront, but you should hit on the key themes.
Think about it this way: there will be people at your webinar who might have registered a long time ago and forgotten why they signed up in the first place. And some folks may just be having a down day and need a little motivation. Your job is to get them excited about the next hour or so that they’ll be spending with you.
Engaging Webinar Tip 2: Get interactive
Engage with your audience right from the start. Mention people’s names (see Number 4) and ask them where they’re from. Most webinar software platforms will have a chat function that lets people share comments with the entire audience, so encourage people to share their answers via chat. Engaging like this right from the start will set the precedent for the rest of the presentation. It’ll help people feel welcomed and included right away, and encourage them to get comfortable with the webinar software interface.
All of this goes a very long way toward creating an engaging, interactive webinar!
Engaging Webinar Tip 3: Poll the people
You can take that interactivity and inclusion a step further during the webinar by running polls. Why polls? Polls are a great way to keep people engaged and encourage interaction, as well as to learn more about your audience.
That said, you should only run a poll if you’re looking for relevant information or trying to prove a point about the information you’re sharing in the webinar. Doing a poll just for the sake of it can backfire. I’ve been on webinars where the presenter asked what everyone’s favorite color was. Don’t waste people’s time.
You also want to make sure everybody’s included in some way. Unfortunately, some webinar presenters have the bad habit of asking questions that get some of the audience to participate, but not everyone. Don’t leave anybody out. For example, if you’re going to ask your audience who’s doing affiliate marketing, you may want to also ask the people who aren’t doing it if they’ve tried it before and why they’re not doing it. That way, you give everybody a chance to raise their hand.
Obviously check with your webinar software platform to see whether it offers a poll function (and it should!).
Engaging Webinar Tip 4: Say people’s names
When a person hears their name, it’s the best thing in the world, right? To paraphrase Dale Carnegie, the most beautiful sound to a person is the sound of their own name. And that’s what you want to do during your webinar: mention people’s names when you’re addressing them or referring to them. Saying a person’s name is a great way to get their attention—remember when you were in school and the teacher would start calling people’s names, and everyone was on the edge of their seat, wondering if their name would be called?
It’s like that, except more fun.
Engaging Webinar Tip 5: Create open loops
For any type of content, whether it’s blog posts, podcast episodes, videos, or yep, live webinars, creating open loops can keep people engaged and anticipating what’s coming. So what exactly is an open loop? Think of it as a cliffhanger. You break up your webinar content into pieces, and at the end of each piece, you tease what’s coming next.
It's a great, simple way to keep people interested and excited about what’s to come.
Engaging Webinar Tip 6: Use pattern interrupts
Pattern interrupts are an important way to break up monotony during your webinar and keep people engaged. When someone is watching or listening to something for a long time, it’s easy to tune out, so you need to offer moments that draw them back in.
Pattern interrupts can be accomplished in a number of different ways. The simplest way might be to change up what’s on screen. Switching back and forth between slides and your webcam is a great way to interrupt the pattern. If you have multiple cameras, you can even switch between camera angles to keep things interesting.
Another easy pattern interrupt is to take a breather once in a while and check in with the audience. After each section of your presentation, switch from professional presentation mode and into engagement mode by saying things like, “Hey everybody, let me know what the most relevant or most surprising part of the last section was for you.” You can even mention names and thank people. This gives everybody a chance to settle before diving back in.
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Another way to pattern interrupt is to tell a story. If you’re showing slides, turn them off or pause them and say, “I want to tell you a story…” All eyes (and ears) will be on you as you go deeper into an event, moment, or lesson that relates to the content of your presentation. A good story can be transporting. It helps put your audience at ease and relate to you. And if you’re doing a lot of teaching and slide sharing, telling a story can give your audience members a nice break from listening intently and taking notes.
Finally, you can change the dynamics of your voice. Getting softer or louder in certain moments, and slowing down at points where you want people to feel the impact of what you’re sharing—this can add a lot to the storytelling and overall effect of your presentation.
Engaging Webinar Tip 7: Ask people if they’re getting value
This is a simple strategy that can pay off big for you. At certain times in the presentation, ask people if they’re enjoying the content and learning from it. This creates another moment where people can participate and stay engaged, and gives you some good info about what’s working well in the webinar so far (or not).
Engaging Webinar Tip 8: Host a Q&A
Whether you decide to answer questions as you go along or save them until the end to keep people around, a Q&A is a great way to keep people engaged. I prefer to leave mine until the end. Why? Taking questions during the presentation can derail momentum and flow, especially if the questions are longer and personalized. It can make others feel left out, especially if they already know the answer or the question is irrelevant to them.
Leaving the Q&A until the end also gives you a chance to collect more questions to address.
However, if I do see a relevant question in the chat before the end, I will address it if it does make sense. Use your judgment!
The most important thing to do is make sure that you have access to the chat function throughout the webinar. But if you’re sharing slides in full screen, you may not be able to see the chat window all the time. So it might be smart to pick up a second computer or use another device, like a mobile phone, just for chat. I’ll typically add myself to the webinar as a panelist using a second email address. This gives me chat and admin/moderator control so that I can see everything and engage with the audience on the secondary device while I’m full screen with my slides on the main account. That way, if there are any questions, I don’t have to stop the slides, then go back to camera, then share my screen again.
Try to make things only as complicated as they need to be!
Engaging Webinar Tip 9: Stay on point
Don’t dilly-dally or add a lot of fluff. It’s great to add some personal touches and comments during the presentation to help build your relationship with the audience, but keep it within reason. Also, don’t keep the webinar going longer than advertised. People are giving you their valuable time, and you want to respect it.
Engaging Webinar Tip 10: Recap
At the end, you’ll want to recap what you’ve shared in the webinar. You can also do mini-recaps at points during the webinar. It’s up to you how often to do this, and it’ll depend on how much material you’re presenting. But these mini-recaps can be especially helpful for people who join after the webinar starts. It’s also a good idea to do “cumulative” recaps, where you cover not just the most recent three points you covered, for example, but the ones that came before them as well—a “re-recap,” if you will.
Deliver Your Best Webinar
I won’t lie to you—hosting a webinar is fun, but it’s also a lot of work. You need to start with your best and end with your best, and that takes planning, focus, and effort. I hope these ten tips have given you some starting points to deliver your best and keep people engaged throughout the webinar.
My final piece of advice for creating an engaging webinar is something I mentioned in tip 8: Wherever and however you can, keep things as simple as possible. That way, you can be focused on the most important part of your webinar: serving your audience and keeping people engaged. Bells and whistles won’t make up for a lack of preparation or underwhelming content, so focus on what matters.
In the next chapter, we’ll talk about how to use your webinar to sell something—a product, course, another webinar, or something else entirely—in a way that’s not sleazy and that’ll get people to take action.