Building a connection and engaging your audience successfully through an online platform/webinar can provide enormous opportunities. It is a much more powerful way to create positive impact than through pure social media activity. It is also a very effective and efficient way to enhance your e-learning content and to enrich learning and development programmes.
There are some key challenges in working with an online audience. How do you engage your participants and keep your session interactive? Can you keep their curiosity and interest from start to finish? We believe so. Over the years of conducting e-learning webinars we have learnt some powerful lessons and here are some key points to focus on:
Ensure the quality of the sound
Sounds obvious right? Audio is the only connection you have with your participants. Make sure that you have a host and technical support on hand at all times. This way you can focus on delivering engaging content and your host can deal with any technical queries in the background. Take control over muting all microphones to ensure sound quality. You can easily automate it so that all microphones mute on entry. This is especially important with large groups. Also, invest in some quality equipment. Do not rely on built-in microphones, use a quality headset and test it before you go live to ensure compatibility and sound quality. It will pay off.
Hold your audience’s attention
You have about 5 minutes to create a great impression and grab your participants’ attention. They are facing a range of distractions, they usually check their social media, their email and you will need to find a way to make them interested and glued to the content. Stories are a great way to keep an audience engaged. Make sure that you use your storytelling skills throughout. Also smile and focus on the quality of your voice. Imagine that you are speaking to a friend. No matter whether you have 12 or 180 people attending, the aim is to create a powerful one-to-one conversation.
Become a master of your hosting platform
Understand and master your own hosting skills. Be sure you know how to use ‘white-board’ and ‘break-out rooms’, set up polls, make extensive use of chat functionality and where possible use, and ask your participants to use all the emoticons to inspire engagement. Plan lots of questions and gather responses live on air, through chat, or through emoticons.
Maintain a conversational tone
Maintain a conversational tone and address people throughout, so they keep guessing when may be the next time you engage with them. Use findings from their comments to relate to during the session so you stay relevant. Use humour when appropriate, as long as your humour is relevant and politically correct.
Most importantly, have fun! If you genuinely enjoy your session, your participants will too.