When I was a head of department in my days in education, one of my major responsibilities was observing and evaluating the teachers I managed. I had to do 33 classroom observations every semester. That’s a lot of observations!
I had to rate and review each aspect of their teaching and overall professionalism in the classroom. Their annual review, salary bonus and even their contract as a teacher at the institution was in the balance. The area that held the most weight on my evaluation was teacher/student engagement. Were the students learning passively or actively?
I had the privilege of seeing some of the best teachers in action. Classrooms that were buzzing with energy and activity. But I also observed some teachers that had me falling asleep in a matter of minutes. What they were teaching was valuable and informative but the room was just dead. Students in the class sought refuge by asking to go to the bathroom, one after the other. Heck, I couldn’t blame them.
Come exam time, it was no surprise the students that were in engaging environments had the highest scores, while the students that had trouble staying awake in class, scored the lowest. The bottom line is if you don’t make an active effort to get your crowd involved, you’re going to lose them.
The reason webinars work so well is because they can be so interactive. Your attendees get quick wins and are constantly picking up what you’re putting down. Engagement is the secret sauce. If an attendee is into what they’re learning, if they’re fully engaged and active, their comprehension and retention rate will go through the roof. If they are getting something out of your webinars, they’ll stick around and they’ll want more. This makes conversion after your product demo and offer at the end of the webinar, a whole lot easier.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be teacher of the year to have an engaging webinar. I got you covered. Here are my quick and easy to do engagement strategies you should use on every webinar.
1. Get Personal
I start every webinar quickly sharing with my attendees where I am from and a fun fact about myself. This fun fact can be my favorite breakfast item, or where I would love to go on my next vacation, or even telling them the one song I can never get sick of. So this sounds like “Hey guys! I’m in sunny San Diego and I would love to go to The Maldives Islands.” I say it on camera and type it into the chat box as well.
I then ask all the attendees to do the same in the chat for the first few minutes of the webinar as attendees start to trickle in. I repeat these instructions a few times and type into the chat as well. In teaching, the first few minutes of any class is called ‘fluff time’. How a teacher uses fluff time effectively is a sign of their abilities to make use of every minute of class time.
This allows everyone to get to know one another a bit. It also sets the tone of the webinar, it says to the crowd, “ This webinar is different. In this webinar, you’re not just going to watch me blab on. You’re going to get involved.”
2. Questions at The Start
Whatever your webinar is about- whether it’s cat grooming or skateboarding, ask your attendees a question about the subject at hand. Make it simple like:
“How many of you have never skateboarded before but would love to learn without hurting yourself?”
“Who here doesn’t wear black anymore because their long-haired cat makes them look ridiculous?”
Asking questions and electing answers at the start gets people’s mind engaged from the get go. They start to realize the value of attending the webinar and mentally make the decision, this webinar is worth their time.
3. Get Them Guessing
This technique is especially effective when you are using presentation slides. Don’t just reveal your info to your attendees, ask them what they think the answer is before you give it to them.
For example, you might have a slide that says, “THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF PHOTOGRAPHY” Instead of revealing the next slide with what that rule is, ask your attendees to pop their guesses in the chat. Remind them now that there are no wrong answers. Give them 30 seconds or so to enter their answers into the chat.
Continue with your presentation and give them the answer to that question. You can also then take a minute to compare some of the answers that were given in the chat. Remember to praise any and all answers because at the end of the day, it’s not the answers that matter, it’s the engagement.
4. Check for Comprehension
One of the most common mistakes webinar hosts make is steam rolling through their workshops without stopping to check if their attendees are on board. Are they getting it? You don’t need to go a mile a minute. Take a few breaks to check comprehension.
A good rule of thumb is don’t let 10 minutes go by without checking in with your audience. A simple question or request like these can really make a huge difference:
“Does that technique I just shared with you make you feel better about starting a blog? Say YES in all caps in the chat if it does!”
“So what are the 3 rules of dressing for an interview? Type them in the chat box along with a BOOMSHAKALAKA if you are feeling adventurous.”
5. Get An Existing Customer Involved
A great way to get your crowd involved and asking questions, especially about your products or services, is to get an existing customer involved. Invite a customer who loves your product or services to your webinar. Have your attendees ask them questions.
Your star customer can share their experience using your product or service and ask attendees to pop any questions they want to ask them about their experience. It’s funny how much more attendees open up to someone other than the expert in the room.
This also releases any pressure for you to talk up your offer and allows your results to do the talking.
Attend and See What I Mean
I love teaching. That’s why I try to do as many webinars as possible. If you want to see me put some of these engagement strategies in action, join me in our next live webinar. You can reserve a spot here. I promise, you’ll have a great time but most of all, you’ll be completely engaged :)