Just like in any learning platform, if a webinar can’t engage and hold the attention of the audience, it will not be effective. It must be engaging! But how do you create engagement?
To start, a learning organization must know its members and their learning needs. Learners want to feel involved, or they will disengage. Educator and learning strategist Tracy King CAE, CVEP says that only by understanding our audience can we design inclusive learning experiences.
King says that to engage, we must capture the attention of our learners, focus their attention in the desired direction, and keep that attention free from distractions. Connect the audience with what they find relevant and meaningful about the subject, and the learner will be interested and motivated to learn.
King introduces three super strategies necessary to foster engagement. They are Visual Design, Story, and Social Connection. We look at each below.
There is an unlimited number of ways to include engaging visual design into your webinar. It’s a good idea to start your webinar with a slide that contains something interesting, current, and relevant. This can be a quote, an interesting fact, an amusing picture, or anything that will instantly get the audience’s attention.
Instead of showing a screenshot of a website you like, take your audience to that website live. Most webinar platforms offer tools that will allow you to draw circles around an object or word, underline part of a sentence, or draw arrows to direct attention toward something on your screen. This type of live interaction can be very engaging.
A story is a powerful tool and is a great way to elicit emotions. Stories, especially real-life experiences, are engaging because people identify with the stories and emotions and feel them as their own. Emotions cause learners to reflect and personalize, which are essential requirements for effective learning.
Social connection is a basic need in all of us. It’s important to create opportunities for your learners to feel included while working and developing ideas together.
Improve Design, Social, and Story with Technology
Technology is a great way to bring these three super strategies to life. For Visual Design, there is software available to make any kind of cartoon, visual effect, movement, movie, or illustration that someone can imagine. Very engaging!
This all holds true for Story as well. Technology can add music, manipulate pictures, bring graphs and illustrations to life, and just about anything else you need to help convey a story.
The last super strategy, Social Connection, is easy to produce with current software. A chat box is just the beginning, while there are multiple face-to-face platforms available for engaging collaboration and Social Connection.
Improve your webinars with 25 easy-to-implement facilitation techniques and tools designed to foster engagement.
Tips for Having an Engaging Webinar:
- Interact with participants before your webinar begins.
- Let audience members introduce themselves via chat or call on some individually for a discussion.
- Ensure that your content is relevant and interesting for the audience.
- Ask questions. People get distracted trying to remember questions until the end, and they lose focus. However, pay attention to the answers you receive when you do ask questions. Engage with each person who shares an answer or it will come across as a disingenuous tactic.
- Encourage questions throughout the presentation. Don’t make them wait!
- Have live discussions and interactive panels.
- Give the audience what you promised: content, the time allotted, etc.
- Make contact information easily obtainable.
- Use humor. Everybody responds well to humor!
- Segment your webinar into blocks of 10 to 20-minutes with each block focusing on one subject.
- Use a template for your slides, but also use images generously and creatively.
- Mix up the content design from slides to video, to screen sharing.
- Use lots of colors and minimal text. You can always provide the audience with the speaker’s notes to ensure they can go back and reflect on what you have shared.
- Only devote 1-2 minutes to each slide.
- Introduce a Hypothetical Scenario and Discuss: This will force your audience to think and stay engaged.
- Interview someone.
- Use a chat box often for short answers.
- Offer prizes or rewards for active participation.
- Use a video of an expert in the field to back up statistics or other content.
- Include news or a quote that is currently trending or popular.
- Give away prizes throughout the webinar. People will stick around for the prize!
- Make a clever hashtag and show it throughout your presentation.
- Use Live streaming.
- Get the webcam up and working and use live video streaming
- Facebook Live – Take the audience over to Facebook Live for fun and interaction
- Create a Free Online Poll: Polls are very interactive and will alert you to what your audience knows or thinks. Other alternatives include:
- Poll Everywhere: Transforms one-sided presentations into two-way conversations with the audience and lets you embed interactive activities directly into your presentation.
- SurveyMonkey: Use market research surveys and make it easy to get opinions from potential and existing customers, test concepts, measure brand awareness, and more.
- Create custom designed content and more visually captivating presentations. These tools will help create an exciting webinar!
- Canva: A free, easy-to-use graphic-design tool with drag-and-drop interface and access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts.
- Emaze: The next generation of online presentation software. Select any of the professionally designed free templates to create amazing presentations.
- PowToon: A cloud-based software for creating animated presentations and animated explainer videos.
For more in-depth and informative training on making your webinars engaging, check out these free on-demand webinars from the Unified Learning Academy. Registration is free also.
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