Avoid webinar viewer unconsciousness

Is it a coincidence that the moment a webinar starts, its viewers experience spontaneous narcolepsy?


Webinars tend to be passive, informational data dumps, which (surprise!) don’t get our audience members excited. They’re being used more and more frequently for virtual training and orientation programs, but if the listeners aren’t ingesting the content, what’s the point? No matter what you call them (webinar, virtual meeting) or what platform you use (GoToMeeting, Lync Online, WebEx) here are 4 best practices to keep in mind:

1. Hold interest

  • Keep the presentation slides moving. More than a few minutes on one slide causes a massive dip in attention (which you can usually track in your webinar toolbox). No one needs to see the same agenda or fiscal results for an hour, so keep it going.
  • Use engaging visual slides. Garr Reynolds is well renowned for his easy-to-implement slide tips — take a look.

2. Direct

  • Why are you having this webinar? We’ve all sat through an informational webinar with no real point or direction. Spare your audience this fate and let them know not just what info you’re dishing, but why they should care.
  • Think through who is listening and why. What do you want them to know, understand, or do? What is their call to action? What do they get from being a participant? These may seem obvious, but lay it out for your listeners — you can’t assume they see the value.

3. Interact

  • Don’t make it a one-person show. Get clients, customers, stellar sales reps, and others on your team involved in the presentation by having them present a few slides, offer an example or short story, or give a quick interview. This will limit multitasking and continue to help keep interest high.
  • Use polling, Q&A, chat rooms, and other functions available in your webinar toolbox. Often, no one wants to be the sole voice to unmute and ask a question, so give your listeners other ways to engage. If you have more than 10 people participating, consider getting a producer to help you manage the interactions and keep things running smoothly.

4. Push energy

  • Show energy through your voice. You may have created the most influential PowerPoint in history, but to keep your audience’s attention, you need to pay attention to your delivery. Project volume, smile, move around, and gesture because they’ll hear the energy. If you sound like you care about the content, they’re more likely to care. All they have of you (other than your words) is your voice, so use it to keep them focused.

Ultimately, you need to think about communication experience you are creating. Sure, people should pay attention because the webinar information you’re doling out is important, but they won’t if they’re bored. It’s your responsibility as the presenter to keep them with you.

Please share your thoughts on these tips, or your own best practices!