Let’s face it—there are a lot of things competing for your audience’s attention online. Articles, email, social media, YouTube videos—every second they’re not engaged with your webinar is a second they could click away. So how do you keep them engaged?
Pick the right length. While the optimal length for a webinar varies depending on the industry and topic, the average time an attendee spends in a live webinar is 56 minutes, according to on24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report. Avoid going too long—it gets difficult to keep your audience engaged—while making sure you allow enough length to do justice to the topic.
Choose an engaging topic. Your job gets a lot easier when your topic is one that your audience is dying to know about. But even if it’s a really important topic in your industry, you have to make sure they grasp the importance right away.
Think about the specific challenge your audience faces that this webinar aims to solve. Drill all the way down—sometimes a regulatory change can directly affect an industry’s livelihood, for example. Draw the personal into the title of your webinar, and design your content specifically to help your audience solve a particular problem that they’re all wrestling with.
Do this successfully, and they’ll come to your webinar already engaged.
Start with a shocker. What’s the most surprising thing you found in your research? Start with that, and you’ll draw your audience in from the first moments. This could be a little-known statistic or fact, or it could be a personal anecdote that highlights a point you’re making.
Whichever tactic you choose, make sure it’s highly relevant to your content—and something your audience will be surprised to hear. If you can do this, you’ll grab your audience’s attention from the first minutes and keep them watching.
Make it interactive. The less interactive your webinar is, the easier it is for audiences to click away. There are all kinds of tactics you can use to keep things interactive—here are a few ideas.
- Incorporate a lightning poll into your webinar and talk about the results in real time.
- Ask audience members to submit their work—if your topic allows for that—and pick one to critique in the webinar.
- Open your webinar up to questions periodically—not just at the end of the webinar.
- Incorporate a chat room. Have someone on your end serve as administrator and solicit conversation.
- Include hashtags for your audience to use on social media while they discuss your webinar in real time.
Make it multimedia. There’s so much more you can do with your visuals than black text on a white background.
At the most basic level, it’s crucial to avoid simply repeating the text that you present on slides. Your slides should echo the things you tell your audience—or break down complex concepts in novel ways. Slides should add to your presentation, not simply repeat it.
But beyond that, you don’t have to use text in your presentation at all—or rely on it a lot less. Put some design savvy into your presentation and incorporate live-action video, attention-grabbing charts and graphs, animation, and more.
Ask your audience for their advice. This is a twist on audience engagement that can vastly enrich your webinar. Depending on your topic and audience (and this might not be right for every audience), your viewers may have considerable hands-on experience of their own to share.
So give them a chance to share it. Opening up your webinar to have your participants share best practices—and not just ask questions—can improve the level of information you offer, while also engaging your audience.
Never give another boring webinar. Keep your presentation interactive, engage your audience at every opportunity, avoid using text that repeats your talking points, and include multimedia—and you should be able to hold on to their attention, no matter the distractions.