Let's be honest, it can be easy to lose focus during a webinar. We’ve all been there, when the screen begins to blur and that notification on our phone starts seeming a little too important. But, webinars as a tool are not the problem, it's how webinars can be done. But we're here to change that.
99% of marketers believe webinars are important for their marketing plan and 89% of respondents also coined webinars as the top digital channel in creating those important qualified sales leads. After all, webinars are built for interaction, for two-way engagement. So if you're hosting a webinar, it's essential that you make it an engaging experience in order to get the most value from it for your attendees and your business.
If you want to learn more about how webinars got their start and how they work you should check out our articles, ‘what is a webinar’ and ‘how do webinars work’. These articles will set you up with a solid foundation, so you can get started in making the most memorable, engaging webinars around!
But now, back to how to make an interactive webinar. While interactive webinars are the best kind of webinar, not everyone takes advantage of the value building opportunities webinars offer. The fact you're already reading this article tells us you won’t be one of those people. We’ve got 5 top tips for how to make a webinar interactive and engaging - so read on!
1. Plan to engage
Let's start with the big question: “how would you design a webinar to be interactive?” This is the most important question to ask, because no matter how many chat boxes or virtual whiteboards are available, if there's no space for interaction, there will be no interaction.
When creating your webinar, you will most likely schedule in time for introductions. It’s important to remember that all introductions should be short, sweet and relevant. You don't want to waste webinar time or attendee attention on too many speaker accolades, which we recommend sharing pre-webinar to keep the webinar moment itself fully on topic.
On the same note, try to keep sessions succinct to leave time for engagement and interaction. For example, webinar presentations could be around 20-30 minutes, followed by a form of engagement. Whether it be in breakout rooms or a Q&A session - it's important to break up speaking sessions in order to keep attendees' attention.
For the full lowdown on how long your webinar should be, have a read of our article all about how to time your webinar here.
Essentially, the key to a successful, dynamic webinar is to break blocks of speaking presentations with interactive activities, and to weave engagement throughout your webinar.
Let’s state the obvious now - keeping attendees engaged requires more than breaks between presentations, you should also have really good presentations! Experts recommend staying away from powerpoints, and instead including lots of different types of media that engage different attendee senses.
For example, including videos and supplementary content before, during and after the webinar can prime your attendees to engage in a seminar type conversation. Incorporating breakroom discussions, games and other interaction based learning (depending on your audience, of course) could be a great way to hold people's attention and get them to feel invested in your webinar.
One great way to make attendees feel invested, and find out if they are, is to test them. Fun, mini-quizzes are a good way to interact with attendees, while also helping you to get the data on their involvement in the webinar.
Small tests or quizzes don't just tell you how tuned in attendees are, they also may show attendees that they are not paying as much attention as they thought they were. Plus, mini quizzes and games have been proven to increase learning, while also building camaraderie amongst attendees.
People having fun at your webinar may not be your first goal, but if it works for your audience and the format of your webinar, it can be one really strong factor that helps your webinar stand out from the crowd.
One of the best parts about webinars is their wide array of tools they have available to interact with. We’ll go over some of the most popular and talk about how to utilise these tools to maximise attendee engagement.
You’re probably already familiar with this function! It’s the space where attendees can chat live during a webinar, both between themselves and with the presenters.
They can be used to share people's responses and thoughts, relevant content or even network! Often chat boxes are located on the side of the presentation, where attendees can write while still viewing the webinar speaker and their presentation.
Another common component within the webinar world. When hosting a webinar, having a Q&A box gives your attendees the opportunity to ask questions to the speaker and show their engagement levels.
Plus, with nifty tools like pinning a question and marking them as answered, you can help make the attendees experience as seamless as possible while getting the data you need from your webinar. Win win.
About 34% or webinars use surveys or polls, which is quite frankly, not enough. They're a great tool to give attendees breaks from presentations and encourage them to get involved, while also keeping their attention at the screen and their minds active.
Not only do these types of tools make webinars interactive, they are also a wonderful way to collect and organise data. This data can be about how engaging your webinar is, about the focus of your webinar or just general feedback about the company. This makes surveys a great addition to your webinar, as you can get a real understanding as to what went well, what maybe didn't go so well and the general reaction of your audience.
Top tip? Don’t wait until 3 days after your webinar to send a survey! Your attendees are long at this point (and think about it, when did you last fill in a survey three days later…) and need to be prompted right away to fill in a survey.
An on-screen link within the webinar experience as a CTA or a post-webinar email should do the trick.
Breakout rooms are when large webinar audiences are separated into smaller groups. These groups are hosted in different ‘rooms’ than the main webinar. Usually these groups have 4-6 people in them, but they can range widely depending on the purpose and size of the webinar.
Breakout rooms are a great tool for interaction because their smaller size means everyone can be heard and listened to during a discussion. This can be a great way for presenters to encourage dialogue amongst attendees and stimulate interactions both in and out of the group space. It's not necessarily relevant for smaller webinars, but if they're part of a bigger event, they can be really engaging and beneficial!
Now that you know the kind of interaction you want to create during your webinar - you need to make it happen. This requires you to use the right platform.
For webinars with lots of different engagement features it's important to use a webinar platform that can host everything you want it to - and work smoothly.
Many platforms offer chat boxes and breakout rooms, but they may be limited in scope and scale. Some platforms cater to more webcast style webinars with limited interactions. While others cater to audience engagement and seminar type interactions. These types of platforms usually offer a lot of customisation options and a wide variety of interactive features with everything from digital whiteboards, video integration, recording options and branded landing pages.
Choosing the right platform for your interactive needs is vital in ensuring you get everything you want out of your webinar!
5. Follow up
During your event you may engage in many interactive webinar activities, games, discussions, Q&A sessions and surveys. These elements are crucial to having an interactive webinar, but so is the follow up.
After an event is a great time to keep the engagement going. You can do this by creating infographics from the different polls or surveys you did during the webinar. You can share downloadable material or the link for the on-demand recording of the webinar. Most importantly, you can follow up with an email encouraging networking and connection between attendees while also promoting your next webinar.
There’s so much you can do with all that great content you’ve collected within your webinar, so don’t let it go to waste! We’ve got some tips and tricks in our article here to help with getting the most from your webinar content, too (we told you we’re your one-stop-shop for all things webinars)
Now you’ve got all your interactive webinar tools ready to go, let's get you started!