You disconnect from the webinar and realize you just wasted an hour of your time and didn’t learn anything. You are frustrated that it did not meet your expectations. Many of us have suffered through a less-than-interesting webinar, or delivered one. So, what does a well-designed webinar experience look like? It would be easy to say that it is the opposite of the one you suffered through, but there’s a little more to it than that.
The first aspect to understand is that presenting virtually is not the same as presenting in person. Many presenters try this one-size-fits-all approach and fail miserably. While this topic could easily fit into a half-day of training, here are a few quick tips to consider when planning your next webinar:
The ‘Webinar Will Begin Shortly’ Slide
A well-designed slide indicating that the webinar will begin shortly let your participants know that they are in the right place. You can also include some non-annoying music if you like.
Creating Social Presence
Social presence is a fancy way of saying interactivity and is “equated to the degree of awareness of the other person in a communication interaction” (Sallnas, Rassmus-Grohn, & Sjostrom, 2000). In a face-to-face class, the presenter determines engagement through facial feedback. In a virtual setting, it has to be created. Simple ways of doing this include displaying pictures of the speakers to put faces to the voices, using live polls to solicit feedback, and using chat options for questions.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
In his book, “World Class Speaking,’” Craig Valentine said that if your viewers have to choose between reading your slides and listening to you, one of you is not needed. I say don’t let the one not needed be you. Use high quality images with short text captions to make a connection to your topic while you speak about it. It is also good practice to only cover one topic per slide.
While You Are Waiting Slides
Webinar participants include people that have never interacted with you or your company. Instead of using the static “Webinar Will Begin Shortly” slide exclusively, add some looping slides to highlight your organization.
Always wrap-up your webinar a tad early to allow time for questions. Turn on your webcam, if available, so that your participants can see you while you respond. If unavailable, consider having your photograph on the screen during your Q&A. Remember you are creating social presence.
Always thank your audience for choosing to spend their time with you. Also offer something exclusively for your listeners such as a discount code for a future purchase, a complimentary gift, or at the minimum, a downloadable overview.
There are many other areas to consider but implementing these will quickly improve the quality of your webinar. In short, if you keep your audience engaged, interested, and educated they will sign up for your future webinars or further engage with your organization. Bore their socks off and they are less likely to return regardless of your topic.
Authored by: Jameo D. Pollock, Open Enrollment Coordinator, Community College Workforce Alliance