Bowling Green, KY. (September 23, 2019) – Conducting an effective and engaging webinar can be a challenge. Participants often come away from a webinar feeling that the content was difficult to consume or the message was diminished because of external factors. Distractions can include various background noises, poor presenter audio, cumbersome transitions between speakers or problems displaying various types of content. Even starting promptly is often an issue while attempting to get all of the necessary parties online and ready to proceed.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Webinars can be a highly effective tool that can allow individuals from anywhere around the world to gather around a topic being presented. By implementing a few of the following tips, you can run an effective webinar that leaves your audience focused on the content and message that was presented rather than frustrated with a feeling of wasted time.
While many of these items seem intuitive, failing to make the proper preparations often leads to an undesirable result.
- Make sure presenters have designed content with the audience in mind and in a way that facilitates the discussion, not something they read word for word.
- Coordinate with different presenters to make sure their content flows with each other and the overall objective is understood.
- Determine what platform is the right choice for presenting the webinar. Different products have different capabilities depending on whether the meeting is intended as purely a presentation of information or a collaborative discussion.
- Compile a run of show for the webinar so that all presenting parties are on the same page as to what everyone’s role is and the timeline to keep the meeting on track. If the platform is unfamiliar to the presenters, have a brief run-through to address any questions or issues. Test the platform so all presenters are familiar with the technology and confirm that their system meets the requirements to join the session.
- Conduct effective outreach to provide potential attendees with information that will encourage their interest in participating. Continue with planned messaging leading up to the session to remind registrants and to solicit those who haven’t yet registered.
- Pick the components you use wisely. Many solutions have options such as question and answer, chat, polls, handout distribution, etc. While some of those options can be helpful, they can also feel gimmicky if not used effectively. Carefully determine if those options are the best to accomplish your objective, and then test them in advance to make sure you understand how they work.
- Take care of housekeeping items at the beginning. Tell participants before the presentation starts if the content will be made available after the session. This is generally the thing attendees want to know most often.
- Plan how to handle participant audio based on the desired level of interaction. Generally it is best to keep all participant lines muted at least during the presentation to avoid background noise interruptions. Unless the group is very small, you should also keep them muted during the question/answer session. If you do open all of the lines, notify attendees in advance so they can self-mute if they don’t intend to speak. Most tools have the ability to virtually raise your hand to be called on for a question. However, it is typically most effective to have all questions submitted using the question or chat panel. Then, the moderator can view all inbound questions and address those that are most appropriate or relevant for the audience as time allows. All other questions are captured and the answers to all questions can be distributed to the whole group or the individual participant as a follow-up after the webinar has concluded. This minimizes distraction and helps the conversation stay on topic.
- If the speaker will be sharing their video, be sure to consider what the participants will be seeing. Position the camera so there is an effective backdrop that is appropriate for the audience. Choose a location with adequate lighting. Avoid pointing the camera toward windows or other bright lights. Verify in advance that bandwidth is sufficient for conducting a smooth video stream.
- Follow up with attendees a few hours or days after the session. Include the presented content or recording if you intend to make that available, as well as answers to the questions that were submitted. Take the opportunity to communicate anything else you would like to share or promote as a way to maintain participant engagement. You may also want to follow up with individuals who registered but didn’t attend if there is a relevant way to do so.
- There are numerous cost-effective solutions available to virtually convene groups of various sizes. By preparing in advance and being mindful of the participant experience, you can present a topic and engage the audience in a way that gets the message across, gives a positive impression of your business or organization, leaves them focused on the content, and promotes collaboration and future interaction.
About the Author: Ryan Johnson is the Manager of IT Operations for Connected Nation. He manages, secures, and oversees the network operations center and systems at Connected Nation and manages the development and implementation of long-term technology strategies for Connected Nation and its programs and projects.
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