8 tips from Podia on Running a Successful Webinar
A webinar can be a powerful tool for connecting with customers and selling your digital products. But if you really want your webinar to be effective, you’ve got to keep people engaged. So how do you keep your webinar from being a sportsFest and hold the attention of your attendees? Ahead, I’ll share eight tips to help you do just that. Let’s get into it.
Hello, creators. I’m Ben Toulson from Podium, where we empower creators like you to make a living doing what you love. Webinars are so effective because they give you an opportunity to interact, ask questions, and sell to your audience in real time. Whether or not people are primed to take action by the end of your webinar can depend heavily on how well you’re able to keep their attention. The following eight tips are proven techniques webinar hosts used consistently to keep attendees engaged and ready to buy. Tip number one, create a fill in the blank worksheet. When I was in elementary school, my teacher would hand out these worksheets with sections where you could fill in the blanks.
As he went through his lesson, it was almost like a game we’d sit and listen attentively because we wanted to make sure we filled in every blank on our page. Turns out that technique doesn’t just work with kids. As an adult, I’ve been to conference talks and workshops where the speaker or instructor use similar methods to keep the audience’s attention. And for a webinar, it’s just as effective. You’ve likely already written some kind of basic outline, have a specific framework, or have important mantras or phrases you use in your presentation that you could turn into some kind of fill in the blank worksheet. For example, let’s say you’re a marketing coach and you’re hosting a webinar about finding content topics that resonate. You could provide some kind of Venn diagram that you walk them through, filling out so they can visualize overlapping themes and find the best topics.
This not only keeps them engaged, but they’ll actually retain more of what you’re teaching because they’re actively participating. Tip number two, do a practice run through. Unless you’ve been doing webinars for years, you could probably benefit from doing a practice run of your content, especially if you can get someone to listen as you go through it. A couple of benefits to doing this are you can identify opportunities to tweak your presentation like slow spots or repetitive information. You become more familiar with your material so you don’t have to lean on it as much during your presentation, and you can be more engaged with your audience. The technical side of your presentation can also benefit from run throughs. Be sure to test your equipment.
Is the camera pointed the right way? Are your slides displaying the way you intended? Is the video stream stable, and how does your audio sound? This actually brings us to tip number three. Make sure you have good audio. The quality of your audio can actually make a huge difference when it comes to keeping people engaged. People can tolerate subpar video quality, but if the audio is bad, it becomes really difficult for people to pay attention. Even though built in microphones are improving, many are still not to the level that would provide a great audio experience for your viewer. The simplest and most inexpensive way to improve your audio is using a USB microphone. Most USB microphones work right out of the box without having to download additional software or drivers, and some even have input volume controls on the microphone themselves.
One of my favorite USB microphones is the Blue Yeti USB microphone. It’s got fantastic audio quality, has input volume control, a handful of recording modes, and a built in headphone Jack so you can monitor your own audio. In addition to having a good microphone, it’s also a good idea to check the environment in which you’re recording. If there’s a lot of outside noise or if the room is echoey, you might consider moving to a quieter location. You can also reduce the Echo by using sound dampening techniques like bringing in extra pillows, putting down area rugs on hard floors, and draping blankets on walls. In your run through, pay special attention to the audio and make tweaks if needed to provide the best possible audio experience for your attendees. Tip number four Define the journey.
One of the best ways to attract people to your webinar is also one of the best ways to ensure they’ll stay engaged and that’s defining the journey. People are more likely to watch a webinar when the outcome you’re trying to provide is clear, and when people know what the end goal is, they have a much easier time staying engaged and attentive defining the journey well relies on three key elements. Who is on the journey? Describe who this webinar is for. Where does their journey begin? Describe where this person is starting out, what they already know, and what struggle is compelling them to seek a new destination. What is the destination? What is the final outcome or result your webinar will provide for people? It’s important to communicate this in every aspect of your marketing, but it’s also important to reiterate this during the actual webinar. You make it easier for your attendees to follow you as you lead them toward the destination. Tip number five Establish trail markers.
This tip is similar to the previous one, but provides a little bit more granularity to the journey. Let me explain what I mean if defining your journey is like showing your attendees a map from point A to point B, establishing trail markers shows them important turns and intersections you’ll encounter along the way. If you’ve written an outline for your webinar, you can use the major points to communicate what you’ll cover during the webinar. For example, let’s say I’m hosting a webinar about getting started with home schooling. A simplified version of my outline might look something like this. Where to get supplies, how to build your schedule, Understanding reporting requirements. Each of these bullets would have their own sub points and plenty of additional information.
But at the beginning of the webinar, I’ll define the journey and then I’ll let my attendees know what the major trail markers will be along that journey. So it might look something like this. Welcome to Getting Started with Homeschooling. I’m your host, Ben Tolson. Thank you so much for being here. This webinar is for those who are new to homeschooling and are feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out how to get started by the end of this webinar, my goal is to provide an actionable plan and the basic resources you’ll need to feel on top of things. We’re going to talk about where and how to get supplies, how to build your daily home schooling schedule, and how to make sense of reporting requirements.
Similar to defining the journey, sharing the trail markers gives your presentation a sense of structure. It builds anticipation for what you plan to cover and keeps your attendees more engaged. Tip number six Renew attention regularly. Even with a clear direction and established trail markers, it’s important to make a purposeful effort to keep your attendees engaged and attentive. So be sure to wear something that demands attention, be loud and energetic the whole time, and dance around while conducting your webinar. Just kidding. Even if people are really interested in what you have to say, it’s natural for attention to drift, especially if you don’t offer enough variety in the way you present the information.
Look for opportunities in your outline to strategically use different presentation methods to keep your attendees on their toes. Like the following. Ask a question and encourage people to respond. Tell a personal story related to the topic. Make jokes. Utilize other types of media like videos, animations, pictures, or infographics. This method takes advantage of the natural human tendency to seek out new experiences.
When we don’t anticipate what’s going to happen next, we tend to pay more attention. Inserting these moments consistently throughout your presentation will keep your attendees focused and eager to see what happens next. Tip number Seven manage Questions strategically. Saving questions for the end of the Webinar might seem like conventional wisdom, but it’s actually not great advice if you’re trying to keep people engaged. Allowing and answering questions throughout your Webinar can be challenging, but if you approach it the right way, it can be much more effective for keeping people’s attention. To make the most of this tip, use the following three strategies. Anticipate Questions ahead of Time as you go through your outline or script, try to put yourself in your attendees shoes and determine what questions they might have.
Write the answers to these questions not necessarily to include in your presentation, but to have on hand when or if those questions are asked. This way, you can allow for questions without it breaking the flow of the presentation. Set expectations for how questions are handled. Depending on how you plan to field questions, make sure you communicate when and how questions can be submitted and when they can expect their questions to be addressed. For example, you could say something like, if you have a question at any time, go ahead and type capital Q and colon and then type your question. That way I’ll see it and I can address it at the end of whatever section we’re in. Bring a Moderator A moderator is someone who can interact with attendees in the chat room on your behalf.
Moderator is great for sharing links, providing clarification and instructions, and feeling and curating questions. If you anticipate having a lot of attendees, I highly recommend finding a moderator to manage the chat so you can stay focused on your presentation. Tip Number Eight Have a clear call to action. Whether you’re planning to sell something, asking for people to sign up for a newsletter, or even just encouraging people to take some kind of next step for themselves, it’s important to communicate clearly what you’ll want people to do at the end of your webinar. Think about the Defining the Journey tip and consider the moment when you and your attendees arrive at that destination. You don’t want them wondering what to do next or saying, that was great. Now what? You want your attendees to get to the end of your webinar already having clarity and direction for their next steps.
To accomplish this, we recommend including your call to action strategically throughout your presentation once at the beginning, a couple of times during, and once at the end at the beginning. Mentioned it briefly as a part of Defining the Journey during your presentation. Find opportunities to mention your call to action as it relates to the problem they came to you to solve at the end. It’s time to invite them to take those next steps, whether that’s buying, signing up or some other action and make it clear how they can do that. Using your call to action this way will help your attendees stay mentally prepared for whatever next step you encourage them to take. In a future video, we’ll walk you through what tools and software you’ll need and how to use them to host a webinar. For now, let us know in the comments if you have any questions related to preparing and hosting a webinar.
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