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  • Writer's pictureIrina Ketkin

15 Tips to Make an Engaging Webinar

You’ve been asked to prepare a webinar on a hot topic in your organization. Or you need to translate a 4-hour face-to-face training into a 1-hour webinar. You prepare your slides. Your script and your computer are ready. Everyone seems to be excited. You do your thing. And then the feedback comes in… “Booooring!”, “That’s 1 hour of my life I’m not getting back”, and “I can watch the recording again to put me to sleep at night”. What went wrong?!


You didn’t follow our tips for creating an engaging webinar. So let’s remedy that!


Table of content:



#1. Purposeful and Clear Objectives

This may not be fun or exciting, but it is the single most important thing you need to create an engaging webinar. The main question you must answer is “Why is this webinar needed?”. Or you can rephrase it to “What will the participants walk away with?”


Once you know what the purpose of your webinar is, break it down into specific skills and/or knowledge, define the objectives, and give your webinar a direction that will help you create meaningful content. Not to mention that purposeful and clear objectives will help your audience understand what they can expect to gain from participating before they set foot inside your webinar (so to speak 😊).



#2. Engaging Pre-Webinar Activities

Engagement with your webinar shouldn’t start at the beginning of the session. Use the time before participants even log in to engage them with an activity. Or invite them to prepare material for the session. Both could further stimulate their interest in the topic and your session. Some examples of pre-webinar activities include creating a short video, reading an article, or filling out a survey.



#3. Gamification

Any game-design elements you add to your webinar will surely be crowd-pleasers. After all, who doesn't like playing games? Consider adding things like mini competitions, awarding points, leaderboards, rewards for participation, and so on. Just to be clear – gamification is much more than just counting points. So instead, focus on the game-like elements we mention here, rather than who wins. It will boost engagement and make learning more fun and interactive.



#4. Use Emotion and Storytelling

There is a famous quote by Maya Angelou that says, “People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you make them feel.” This is true for webinars as well. Tell compelling stories, use humor, or create a personal connection with your audience through emotional language and storytelling.



#5. Real-Time Demonstration

Not every topic will allow for a demonstration. But if appropriate, show people how a new software performs or the workflow of a process or a soft skills model. This will give the audience a practical understanding of the subject and demonstrate the desired end goal more visually and kinaesthetically.



#6. Multimedia Integration

Listening to someone talk for an extended period of time can be tiresome. So switch it up with videos, infographics, audio clips, and animations. These can bring your content to life and help break up the presentation to maintain the audience’s interest.



#7. Active Social Media Involvement

Social media is ever-present in our lives. And if you can’t beat it, join it. Use social media for pre-event promotion, live tweeting during the event, or a post-webinar discussion place. This can create a buzz around the session and prolong the engagement way after it is over.



#8. Clear and Visually Compelling Slides

We can talk about visually compelling slides for many hours… days even! But for the purposes of engagement, let’s just say you need to “create slides that people will understand in 3 seconds. People can either listen to you or read your slides – they won’t do both simultaneously (not without missing key parts of your message, anyway). So make sure they can quickly comprehend your visuals and then turn their attention back to what you’re saying.” (Duarte, 2012)


Try to use as little text as possible. Instead, focus on bullet points, diagrams, images, or infographics to convey your message more effectively.



#9. Participant Collaboration

Who said the facilitator is the only one to talk during a webinar? Get your attendees into breakout rooms and have them discuss a topic, solve a problem or even work on a project. Social and collaborative learning has tons of benefits, like enhancing learning retention, creating a sense of belonging, and, most importantly for us - making the webinar more interactive.


Keep in mind that not everyone will feel comfortable talking to people they haven’t met in person before. So if you’re going to use breakout rooms, allow some people to opt out of the experience. But also make sure to tell them they will be missing out and, if they prefer, they can participate as silent observers instead.



#10. Audience Spotlights

Breakouts may not always be possible. So consider giving your audience a spotlight instead. You can take a moment to acknowledge someone’s comment, idea, or question. Or showcase someone’s work, have them share their experiences, and contribute to the content with their own perspective or experience. This encourages more participation because it shows the audience their engagement is valued and recognized.



#11. Virtual Backgrounds and Props

Go nuts with your virtual background and props. Have them search for clues in your background related to the topic, or have them change their background based on a theme (for example, to a color that reflects their mood right now). Some webinar software even allows you to use filters, so why not utilize those as well?



#12. Use of Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR)

AR and VR are becoming more and more prevalent in our day-to-day. So it’s only natural that you try to incorporate these into your webinar, making it an immersive and unforgettable experience for your participants. You can demonstrate a new product in 3D, lead everyone on a virtual site tour, create an immersive learning simulation, create an interactive presentation (as opposed to static slides), visualize data more creatively, and so much more!



#13. Use of Chatbots

And while we’re talking about new technologies, why not use AI chatbots during your webinar? A well-designed chatbot can respond to frequently asked questions, provide technical support and even deliver the content (i.e., provide additional resources in response to a certain trigger).



#14. Inclusion of Relevant Case Studies

Of course, no amount of new technology can replace the good old case study. Real-world examples will not only make your webinar more engaging, they will also provide context and make it easier for attendees to see how the information can be applied to their own situations.



#15. Expert Panel Discussion

Finally, you can add yet another level of interactivity by inviting experts to share their unique perspectives for a more dynamic and engaging discussion. This brings a variety of industry experts to a single platform.



Summary

If you follow at least some of these tips, you can wave goodbye to "boring" and say hello to riveting webinars!


Make sure to define clear objectives upfront and then wrap your participants in an engaging blanket of pre-webinar activities, multimedia content, gamification, and compelling storytelling. Integrate modern wonders like AR/VR and AI chatbots for an immersive experience and don't forget the power of social media to create a buzz. Use visually clear slides, stimulate participant collaboration, and shine the spotlight on your audience. Roll out relevant case studies and invite expert panelists for a dynamic discussion.


Your webinar is not a one-man (or one-woman) show but a vibrant, interactive stage where knowledge and experience are shared. So take the leap and let your webinars be the talk of the town!


What did we miss on our list? Let us know in the comments below.


Source: Duarte, N. (2012) HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations (HBR Guide series). Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.





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