What does it take to “engage” a webinar audience?
Engagement is a hot topic. Web site developers, human resources & L&D folk, and even webinar presenters…all realize that in today’s change-the-channel world, we’ve got to get and keep attention. Or we lose.
Here’s the bad news:
As I’ve addressed many times, engagement in a webinar isn’t “pushing a poll” at someone. It’s multi-dimensional, and it happens throughout the whole webinar.
Sounds hard, right?
Yes, and no. The answer is simple, but learning and growing (read: becoming a pro) takes time. Here’s where to start:
Create whole-brain content
Research supports the fact that we’ve got to appeal to both sides of the brain if we want to optimize the impact of our messages. It has to be logical or we miss the opportunity to help them “get it.” But content also has to have an emotional connection (e.g., “wow! here’s why I should take some action to <avoid continuing pain or gain something beneficial or both>). My own research has shown that content is still the number one reason people show up to and stay engaged in webinars. (Catch some of that in this report licensed by the good folks at ReadyTalk)
Amateurs create info-barf. Pros construct data and story into clear, interesting, and compelling Point-A-to-Point-B whole-brain content.
Deliver a holistic sensory experience
Your audience is hearing something, seeing something, and maybe doing something. You’ve got to use your voice effectively, deliver something visual that’s worth watching, and interact with them naturally. This may include a poll, but it may not.
Amateurs think about tools. Pros adapt to a new set of tools to deliver facilitate experiences.
Facilitate natural interactions
For most presenters and audiences, talking with another human being or group is fairly natural…until we have a new set of tools through which to do it. The responsibility, therefore, is yours to guide the experience.
The key here is that unless you’re delivering a one-way lecture or keynote address, people connect with people (you and each other). If you’re not doing that in your web seminars, you’re likely missing an opportunity.
Amateurs talk AT people. Pros learn to talk WITH people in a new way.
The bottom line
You’re not a “pro” because you make a full-time living doing it. You’re a pro when you’ve got an attitude of self-improvement.
Engagement isn’t a thing you place in an event like an object (e.g., a poll) or at a pre-defined interval (e.g., “every 9 minutes”). It’s a skill that you work on and grow…and when your audience is one click away from “changing the channel,” you’d better figure out how to get and keep attention throughout.
If not, you’re going to be like a television playing in the background, not the main focus of the person you’re trying to reach. And sooner or later “noise” gets turned off. Game over.
Engagement starts with attitude. Be a pro.