Webinars are a staple of B2B marketing.
And not just in recent months when we’ve all been missing out on the in-person events!
In actual fact, they’ve been around for years, especially for global technology companies who very often have to rely on distributed expertise and sales support.
Unfortunately, the recent uptick in webinars feels like it’s launched us back a decade or two in some respects.
And no more so when it comes to how webinars are run!
Yes, sorry for the honest truth… but webinars have not kept pace with other forms of marketing or content.
So it’s time!
Time to shake off the old webinar format and embrace a new style…
💡 …One that really takes advantage of new tech out there…
💡 …That improves how webinars are run…
💡 …And increases audience participation – yay!
There are 3 main ways to do this.
And the great thing is that they make for better host and speaker participation too!
So let’s dive in… 🏊♀️
BUT BEFORE YOU DO THAT, MAKE SURE TO DOWNLOAD THE ULTIMATE WEBINAR PLANNING WORKBOOK RIGHT HERE!
1. The Before
This is all about the stuff you can be doing before the actual webinar in order to maximise participation on the day.
It’s not about increasing registrations – that’s for another blog.
It’s about making sure that those who do register actually attend.
And when they do, that they’re fully prepped for a great session.
First and foremost, make sure you master the basics of running and prepping for a webinar.
There’s more advice on that over here.
Once that’s covered, then you can start adding the bells and whistles! 🔔 🔔
👉 Make it easy
The first way to increase attendance and participation is to make it super easy for your audience to actually join in the first place!
- Promote your webinar early and right up until the last minute.
- Include an ‘Add to Calendar’ feature in the email confirmation.
- Always send at least 2 or 3 reminders.
- Grab their phone number during the registration process so you can send them an SMS right before the webinar starts (ideally with the joining link too!).
👉 Whet their appetite
A key way to increase attendance and engagement before you’ve even hit that record button is to whet the appetite of your audience in the run-up to the day itself.
Of course, you should be sending the usual reminders.
But what about sending short video snippets as well – maybe a 30 second ‘sneak peek’ from one of your speakers. Or a ‘Here’s what we’ve got lined up’ summary from the host.
You can also ask your audience to prep beforehand. Get them thinking about the topic in advance, maybe ask them how they feel about a specific area of that topic and come ready to share their thoughts in the webinar Chat function.
Get your audience to submit their questions early. Specify that the speakers will personally answer these questions on the day so if there’s something they want covered in particular, now is the time to get them in.
2. The During
Now you’ve got your audience hooked, you’ll want to do all you can to maximise participation during the webinar itself.
One thing to bear in mind here is that everyone is different. Some people like participating, others not so much.
So you’ll need to cater for both groups, at the same time as doing everything you can to hold attention.
For the speakers
- Stand as you present – even do some power poses beforehand as these have been proven to help with confidence and will inject some energy into your voice.
- Get on camera. It might take a bit of getting used to, but it really helps with engagement. Seeing that black screen is enough to turn anyone off!
- Tell your audience why they should listen and what they’ll learn. State this at the start, again throughout as you’re delivering the content, and finally at the end to sum it all up.
- Go off-slides! If you’re comfortable with this, then do go off-slide now and again. Especially when it’s to tell a story or anecdote relating back to the slide content itself.
- Address the audience as ‘you’. Imagine you’re actually speaking to your audience 121, address them personally as ‘you’ and you’ll get their attention much better.
For the slides
> Use memorable imagery and quotes. Keep the text light and the imagery heavy! Your audience will remember funny pictures much more easily than they will a set of bullet points.
> Use video content. This is a great way to break up the slides and change the pace a bit. Especially if it’s got some energising music too!
For the format
📸 Take a group photo. Check if everyone’s ok with a webinar photo being taken and then ask everyone to wave! (If people aren’t comfortable, just have them go off camera briefly).
🎁 Start with a present. Start off by promising a giveaway or a high-value piece of content. That you’ll reveal at the end of the webinar of course!
🤔 Run polls or quizzes. These are great as ice breakers and to break up the presentation itself. Make them relevant to the content and get people to either vote in a poll or put their thoughts in the Chat function.
✅ Ask for agreement. Actively ask your audience to agree with you by saying things like ‘How many of you have experienced this?’ or ‘I’m sure we’ve all been through this lately, right?’. Then go one step further and ask people to ‘raise their hands’ in the webinar or add comments in the Chat function. You can then take a minute to gauge the response and even read out some of the comments.
👫 Do breakout rooms. For the really advanced webinar gurus, why not run breakout rooms? Yes, just like in real life, you can set up groups in the likes of Zoom for people to then ‘break out’ and discuss specific topics. I recently attended an online event that did this really well by using it for speed networking. The rooms were set to a few minutes each and you were randomly put into groups of 3. It was great fun!
🖍️ Run a whiteboard session. If you don’t like slides, then why not run a whiteboard session? Now you could even video yourself sketching on an actual whiteboard, or use a tool like LucidChart or Miro to do it virtually. If you opt for the former, just make sure your lighting and sound are tip-top and that you’re writing in a large enough format for people to see!
❓ Run Q&A. One of the staples of a webinar, and one of the easiest! Don’t forget to run a Q&A session so people can ask questions. Top tip – prepare a few in advance just in case your audience is shy. And attribute names to these questions so they don’t come across as canned!
3. The After
Participation doesn’t just end when you hit that little ‘X’ on the webinar screen.
Oh no! After the event is just as important for continuing to drive engagement.
Want to know a secret?
There’s something you can do to make the webinar even better, after it’s been done.
👉 👉 And that’s taking advantage of Video Editing Software to jazz up the recorded version! 👈 👈
We all know we have to make the recording available for those who couldn’t attend. But in reality, viewing figures after the live event are pretty low.
So why not give your non-attendees an extra present and take to the editing software to add in emojis, maybe a bit of ambient music, and mini animations at key points in the presentation.
You know how you do this on Instagram already? Well, it’s kinda the same!
And there’s some great software for beginners available that you’ll find reviewed here by Wordstream.
The next thing you can do is a TL;DW write-up for those who haven’t had the patience to sit through the webinar live.
Pull out the key points, pop them in a nicely formatted email, and send them out for everyone to read. You can also use this content for your social posts.
Finally, ask for feedback. Ideally, you should so this just before everyone logs off the webinar itself. Otherwise, make sure to do it in a follow-up email.
And ask for two key things:
- What they thought of the webinar itself – rate the content, speakers, etc.
- What they’d like to see covered as a next topic. Hey presto, your job is done for you on what the next webinar needs to be about!
Ready to inject some life into your old webinar format?
Then take advantage of just a couple of the points above and you’ll start to see your participation rates increase ten-fold!
And just remember – if you’re enjoying it as the host or speaker, your audience will probably be enjoying it too. 😉
Your Ultimate Webinar Checklist
Make sure you’re prepared for your next webinar with this ultimate Webinar Planner and Checklist Workbook.