One of the top concerns of webinar presenters is “what if my audience is multitasking?”
There are many techniques for being more engaging when you present at a webinar. But this post is to encourage you to think about another idea: encouraging the multitasking.
When in a face-to-face environment, any given audience member can chat with the person sitting next to them. The risk of mass-outcry is small.
In a webinar, you can usually turn off the ‘everybody chat with everybody’ feature, thereby limiting the chance that someone pipes up about your competition or says something that catches you off guard. This used to control perceived risk.
But no more.
Whether we like it or not, using some form of backchannel chat is not only here (a la Twitter), but it’s going to stay.
So make it part of your gameplan.
Encouraging backchannel chat has a few advantages:
1. You can keep an eye on it. If you establish the Twitter hashtag or other locale, it gives you a chance to see and respond. Arguably this is better than being unaware of the audience whispers.
2. You’ll present yourself as a thought leader. Social media’s a hot topic, probably a bit hyped. You don’t have to be an expert to appear knowledgeable.
3. You’ll learn from it. Love it or hate it, people will say things on the web that they’d never say to your face. Professionals learn from this. Throw out the kooks, and learn from the rest.
4. Your audience will be engaged. Active participants are much more likely to remember your key messages than passive participants. As the old press adage goes, “there’s no such thing as bad press,” and if you agree with that, encouraging discussion can only help.
What I’m not saying is that this won’t require some new webinar presenting skills. You’re going to need to learn new ways to keep an eye on your audience while presenting. And it’s going to require a little courage, but you can do it, I’m sure. 🙂
Embrace the changing face of communications. Embrace the backchannel.