February 11, 2016 | by Vicki Pannu
After producing life science webinars for over a decade, we've gained a lot of knowledge, and are excited to share some of it with you. Depending on how a webinar speaker presents their content, attendees can be tuned out or highly engaged in your presentation. This week, we'll take a look at how to best keep your attendee's engaged during your webinar.
1. Grab the Attendee’s Attention From the Beginning
If you fail to do this at the start of your webinar, you might not be able to reconnect with them again later on in your presentation. Start off with a compelling story about the topic at hand, an anecdote about yourself, or include an interesting fact or statistic, or relevant inspirational quote. Alternatively, if you are feeling especially humorous maybe even a light hearted joke – really, start off with whatever makes you comfortable and will keep the audience interested.
2. Avoid Talking at Your Audience. Instead, Try Talking to Them
It is imperative to keep your energy levels high during your webinar, and refrain from slipping into a monotone way of speaking. For most presenters, reading off a sheet of paper can cause a lack of expression (sometimes the audience can even tell by the shuffling of paper). So, if you find that this tends to happen to you, lose the papers altogether and write down the main bullet points on cue cards.
A quick tip to help keep your audience alert is to speak directly to them, using terms such as “you.” Also, keep in mind that without watching someone speak it is harder to follow along. Therefore, slow down your speaking pace so your attendees can grasp what you are trying to convey.
3. Break Up Your Presentation
Listening to a presenter for a solid hour can be tough for an audience. Attempt to utilize some or all of the interactive tools webinars have to offer such as: polls, question and answer periods etc.
In a later article, we will explore the wonderful world of poll questions, and how they’re able to keep your attendees engaged, alert and involved during a webinar.
That said, avoid breaking up your presentation with pauses that are too long. These may work in face-to-face presentations but the audience may panic thinking they have lost sound or their internet connection (this applies to the moderator too!). If you are going to allocate silent time for the audience to read something or take a quick water break – let your audience know what you are doing or why you have stopped speaking.
4. Visuals! Visuals! Visuals!
We have mentioned visual elements in many of our other blog posts because it is such a vital feature of webinars. If you can create a captivating webinar slide deck, your audience is sure to be engaged. Try using infographics, charts, photos, GIFs, videos, comics or anything that could be unique but yet still relevant to your presentation.
If you want to emphasize certain points try highlighting or circling them or even just make the text appear larger. Always use lots of slides and visuals, you do not want your audience to be staring at the same slide for more than two minutes.
5. Make Sure You Are Prepared
Nothing causes people to lose interest in a presentation like unpreparedness or lack of professionalism. Make sure you understand what your technical role is – e.g. having your presentation ready to go (but don’t worry about this part, here at Xtalks we will be handling everything behind the scenes). Allot time to practice your presentation before hand with and without your webinar slide deck. Lastly, ensure that you know your content. You are supposed to be the expert in the topic being presented – therefore stumbling over your content may cause people to tune out or discredit you as an expert.
6. Stay True to the Duration of Your Webinar
Majority of webinars run for approximately 60 minutes long (this includes a question and answer period) – any longer than this and attendees may begin lose interest. If you state that your webinar will run for a duration of 60 minutes, but you go over 30 minutes, audience members tend to tune out or leave.
Shorter webinars have higher engagement rates, so if your topic is short there is no need to make it last for 60 minutes. Use any extra time doing an in depth question and answer period which attendees may find more more engaging.
7. Cater to Both Logic and Emotion
Cater to Logic – Ensure your content explains a solution to the attendees, or teaches them something. Most importantly, you should leave them walking away thinking “Wow, I really understood what the presenter was talking about!” If the attendee feels like they are truly understanding or learning what you are demonstrating they will be engaged.
Cater to Emotion – By engaging emotionally with your audience, you’re bound to have a greater impact. Incorporate a fact or statistic that will really resonate with your audience, or get them thinking they should take some sort of action. Creating an emotional connection will automatically have the audience remembering and even sharing your content with others.
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