Webinars, although extremely valuable and informative, can be somewhat less than exciting at times. If you are leading a webinar, there are several things that you can do to ensure that you make it interesting and valuable for your audience.
If you think back to the last time that you attended a webinar, it might not have been the most exciting hour that you ever spent away from your desk (or perhaps, at your desk). If it didn’t hold your attention, in all likelihood, your mind started wandering to other things and other people. Perhaps you started to multitask and do one of many other things that you have waiting for you or maybe you started a conversation with a colleague. The fact is that if the webinar had captured your attention, you wouldn’t be doing anything except for paying attention to what was being said. It is a real shame because a great deal of time and effort generally goes into planning a webinar and after having come so far with the planning, it is a pity to come to a screeching halt when it comes to holding the audience for the duration of the webinar. There are many different reasons why a webinar may not be working, however, you should try the following tips to turn that situation around.
The importance of logistics: Your fist impression is extraordinarily important. The thing that you should start with is the topic (and material) itself. If you are the person who is running the webinar, you should start right in with the topic of the webinar. After all, that is what brought the audience together in the first place. If you feel compelled to share administrative information with your audience, you can easily do that through Email. Your audience doesn’t necessarily need to listen to that information at the start of the webinar. Bear in mind that they are not there for that reason. They are there to listen to what you have to say about the topic that brought them there in the first place. If you are not comfortable putting the administrative information in an Email, you can place it in a text box next to the slides that you are using for your webinar.
Biographies: It is critical to the success of the webinar that you highlight your speaker appropriately. You should make sure to really emphasize his or her wealth of experience and remember to mention a list of clients (if appropriate) with whom the speaker is involved as well as listing his or her credentials. When it comes to introducing your speaker, you should make sure to keep it simple and short. Your audience (and your speaker) will appreciate it tremendously.
Make sure to offer an agenda: There is nothing wrong with having a slide at the beginning of the webinar that shows the agenda. This shows your audience that you are organized and that you planned the webinar with a lot of thought behind it. You should try to make the agenda as interesting as you possibly can. That alone is quite a challenge so you might want to consider putting some humor into it, if it is appropriate and possible.
Offer a poll: You should offer a poll to your audience. You should ask them to vote on questions that may direct your webinar presentation. The webinar is for the sake of the audience so it makes perfect sense that you should customize your presentation to their needs and wants. The best way to engage your audience is to make it about them instead of about you. You should always have the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) principle in mind. In other words, your purpose is to solve their problems and to satisfy their wants and needs. No matter how wonderful and knowledgeable you are and no matter how much you and your business can offer, if you don’t satisfy your audience, you won’t get very far.
It is not nearly as difficult as you might think to run a successful webinar, one in which you truly engage your audience and get them to interact with you in a way that leads to further discussions and a deeper level of interaction. Having a “hook” that will draw your audience before you even get started is an effective approach, if you are able to go in that direction, although it is not entirely necessary. Remember to gather as much information on your attendees as possible so that you can build relationships with them after the webinar is over. The webinar should only be the beginning. Webinars are another extremely effective means of communication in your armamentarium of communication media. It is important for you to leverage as many different ones as you can for the good of your business.
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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.
Mr. Cohn is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).