Practical tips for hosting an interactive webinar

A live webinar is an unnecessary undertaking if it’s not interactive. If people stare at their screens the whole time without participating, it might as well be a YouTube video.

The point of live webinars is to simulate in-person seminars and events. Without audience engagement, it’s difficult to make a connection; instead, attendees find themselves enduring a lecture.

To put it simply, connections make for good webinars. And what creates connections? Interactions!

The Power of Interactive Webinars

So, what can an interactive webinar achieve for your business that a standard lecture-type webinar can’t?

Below are a few benefits of hosting an interactive webinar:

  • Build trust – Interactivity helps build trust with your audience by engaging them directly. It gives your webinar authenticity and credibility that a recorded event lacks.
  • Grow your network – Beyond lead generation through registrations, interactive webinars can forge genuine connections. You can build a relationship with audience members through engagement, leading to knowledge sharing during and after the event. These relationships then grow to more opportunities down the road.
  • Expand learning – Let’s face it, your attention span for lecture-type webinars is short. It’s hard enough to listen to someone at a live event; it’s even more challenging when it’s on a screen. By adding interactive elements, the audience is more engaged and more likely to absorb what you’re saying.
Live WebinarsHighly engaging and interactiveSingle-take, no chance to correct mistakes
Works well for interviews and panel discussionsTechnical problems could derail the whole program
Pre-recorded WebinarsProfessional and polished because you can have multiple takesNo audience engagement
Audience can view on their own timeAudience attention can drift

Interactive webinar – examples of activities

Adding interactive elements to your webinars can be challenging because it’s online; the host or speaker can’t see the audience, and the crowd isn’t sitting together in the same room.

Audience engagement can be tricky in this environment because attendees are alone and can’t feed on a crowd’s energy.

So, what can you do? The first step is to find an interactive webinar solution like Demio that has features geared toward getting the audience involved. Enterprise communications solutions that have built-in video conferencing are another option, but you have to check if it has webinar functions that let you interact with the audience without affecting the program’s flow.

With these tools in your arsenal, your audience won’t have to sit through a boring college lecture. You can break up your content with fun, engaging, and relevant activities like:

  • Interactive polls – Ask your audience a question and have the option to keep the results or share them with attendees for social proof.
  • Tests – Whether it’s just for fun or to see if your audience learned anything from your presentation, you can provide an online test for attendees to answer individually.
  • Q&As – Let your audience ask questions live on stage or in the chat box. This way, you’re able to organize the questions and answer them live.
  • Games – Engage your audience with fun. We use Demio’s engagement feature to play the games and review event analytics to share prizes with those who answer correctly.
  • Trivia – Have the audience compete to answer questions related to your content.
  • Virtual scavenger hunt – Host a remote game where the audience has a limited amount of time to find a piece of information online.
  • Puzzles — share handouts with puzzles that your audience needs to solve.
  • Interactive webinar formats – Choose an interactive webinar format that suits your virtual event. You can choose from many webinar formats, but some of the most common include:
    • Interview – The interview webinar format allows you and your audience to ask an industry expert questions pertinent to their field.
    • Ask Me Anything (AMA) – This is an unscripted webinar where your audience can ask anything about your company or speaker.
    • Panel discussion – Similar to an interview, except it’s a controlled or moderated conversation or discussion between selected guests.
    • Case studies – Have speakers talk about their experiences. It’s a great lead-generating webinar for companies since they can bring on existing customers to speak positively about their products or services.
  • Customer surveys – After the webinar, you can also ask attendees what they think about the event, both positive and negative. Several third-party survey platforms are available specifically for this.

Interaction Is Important, but Content Is Still Key

While audience engagement is essential, it’s useless if you have a poor message.

So, start with great content and build your activities around it.

This may seem unnecessary since a run-of-the-mill webinar already can bring in leads as long as you create strong webinar promotion assets.

However, that’s not enough to boost your conversion. Even if people register for your webinar, will your content convince them to purchase your product or service? Are you convincing them to be loyal customers?

Many companies only think about the lead generation aspect of webinars and are perfectly happy to have a list of possible prospects.

However, good content turns leads into strong opportunities that are more likely to convert.

So, how do you choose great content for your webinar? Here are some tips:

1. Check your top-performing content – Coordinate with your content marketing team and see which of your long-form content can work in a webinar format. This includes blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, and case studies.

2. Check your most engaging social posts – You can do the same with your most engaging social posts to learn which topics customers are most interested in.

3. Know your customers’ pain points – Coordinate with your success team and identify your customers’ pain points. Then, you can create a webinar that addresses how your product or service solves those problems.

4. Ask your customers – You can simply ask your customer base what webinar format would be most beneficial for them. This increases the likelihood that you’ll earn more registrations because you already know they’re interested in that topic.

How To Host an Interactive Webinar

Now that you have the content side covered, it’s time to incorporate the interactive elements of your webinar.

Delivering an interactive webinar is easier said than done. The speaker shouldn’t just read from their notes; this is meant to be a conversation, not a speech. If you’re going to run a live webinar, do it right.

To improve your webinar’s flow, here are some tips to follow:

1. Be spontaneous

Whether a face-to-face seminar or a virtual one, spontaneity makes the whole program much more engaging. When the speaker knows the resource by heart, there’s no need to read a cheat sheet. This lets the speaker interact more with the audience, which in turn stimulates interest and enthusiasm to participate.

2. Shake things up

People have short attention spans. You may get their full attention when the webinar starts, but five minutes in, you may feel the energy drop and their attention waver. To combat this, shake things up.

One way to shift gears is to feature multiple speakers on your webinar. Having different people speak adds variety to the webinar.

You can also use other interactive webinar formats like panel discussions to highlight different opinions on a subject and foster spontaneous discussion that’s interesting to the audience.

Another great way to break up segments is to present short videos that provide background or other pertinent information about the subject.

And this is just the start; there are a ton of ways to add variation to your program and keep the webinar interesting.

3. Visually appealing slides

Presenters often take their slides for granted. Some don’t even use them at all.

The problem is, without a slide deck, your webinar visual will be the speaker or the host’s face only.

While they may be good-looking fellas, having just their faces to look at quickly gets boring.

The next thing you know, attendees are on their cellphones, not paying attention.

One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to include killer slides that support your speaker’s presentation. Be sure the deck supports the presentation and makes an impact on the audience.

4. Make comprehension checks

Once in a while, your host or speaker should check on your audience. Are they absorbing the webinar’s message? Or are they dying to leave?

This is where interactive features will come into play. You can take a poll or ask a question, or use a Q&A to let the audience ask their own questions.

Aside from gauging how well your audience is absorbing information, these breaks also reset their attention. That way, the speaker can return to the discussion with all eyes (and ears) on them.

You can find more tips on how to be a great webinar presenter, but these should cover the basics.

With these tips, your webinar can transform from a time-suck into a memorable experience. Say goodbye to lecture-style virtual events and hello to modern webinars that let you personally connect with your audience.

Ready to make your webinars more interactive? Consider using Demio. Demio was built with engagement in mind and boasts a full suite of engagement features designed to drive interaction. Start your 14-day free trial here.

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