Written by Scientist.com Marketing Services
Following the pandemic, the world has had to adapt to a new way of life in an almost entirely digital space. A significant amount of innovation has arisen in response to this sudden shift towards a digital world, among which is online education and virtual events, such as webinars. Despite the absence of in-person interaction that is often necessary to hold an audience’s attention, there are many creative ways to make your webinars more engaging. We asked the experts at InsideScientific, a webinar, virtual event and content creation company recently acquired by Scientist.com, to share some of the insights they’ve gained while navigating the world of virtual events over the years. Read on to learn their ten tips on how to improve your webinars in 2022.
1. Take advantage of the poll feature.
Only 15% of webinars use polls. This is a huge missed opportunity, not only to collect valuable data from attendees, but also to get them to participate and engage with the actual live event. Poll the audience before the webinar even begins using the registration form. Find out ahead of time where the audience’s interests lie and what common questions or misconceptions about your topic exist, then use this input to start a discussion during the live event. Be sure to incorporate polls with the presentation material – polling questions are much more engaging and have a better response rate when you keep them relevant to the topics you’re speaking about, particularly if you share the results with the audience and include them in the conversation.
2. Lights, Camera, Action! Engage with the camera as you present.
Think about how your video feed/webcam can be different or better – consider lighting, camera angle, background and the extent to which you engage with the camera. Try to avoid being a head in a random room looking down at a laptop webcam (like most webinars).
3. Break the mold, and be original with the webinar format.
So many technical webinars follow a didactic lecture format, followed by a live Q&A. Try to shake things up by injecting more frequent short breaks for audience questions, use polls or live vote tool and experiment with presentation media (video to show equipment and procedures, screen share for software tutorials, whiteboard for live diagrams and concepts).
Intersperse short, demonstrative videos into your webinar to keep the session dynamic. Even webinars utilizing a webcam can feel static if all the presenter does is look into the camera and read. Creative use of short video can help a webinar provide viewers with a sense of action.
4. Utilize the chat feature to facilitate discussion.
For a very interactive webinar, consider opening up the Chat feature and having the speaker ask and respond to questions in real time. Utilize a panel discussion format, including non-speakers, as your Q&A session for engaging discourse post-presentation.
5. Plan for more than a webinar!
Document how you will use and host the on-demand material. Think about how you might use or repurpose content from your webinar in different ways. Examples would include a blog summary of the presentation highlights, short video clips of key concepts or even a quick podcast interview with presenters in parallel.
6. Expand your webinar into an educational journey.
Plan your webinars as a program, summit or series of events. Explain how the collection of content and experience will provide value and take the audience on an educational journey. For example, check out our Cutting Edge Conversations Series or a Cardiovascular Research Day to get an idea of how you could turn your webinar into a series.
7. Move beyond a simple PowerPoint presentation.
Use the whole buffalo as they say. There’s more to a webinar than just the slide deck. Customizable environments and resource links are what separate an engaging environment from one likely to induce snores.
8. Provide your audience with a clear call to action.
Strategically plan your CTAs and present a clear “next step” for your registrants and attendees.
9. Create a dynamic marketing campaign.
Expand your marketing communications strategy. Don’t use the same invitations for your webinar for the entire promotional campaign. Adjust your marketing communications strategy to focus on the presentation, who the speakers are and the type of work they are doing, the experience attendees will have, what they will learn, exclusive access for registrants, etc.
10. Use audience feedback to improve future webinars.
Collect feedback using a post-event survey. Don’t just ask them to rate the webinar, but ask questions that can help shape your content strategy: “What topics would you like to learn more about in the future?” “What sections were most interesting or valuable to your work?” The key thing here is to review their feedback and suggestions and incorporate them into your presentations moving forward to continually refine your processes.