Module 8: Technical Help on Webinars
If possible, partner with someone to help you administer your webinar. Typically, there is a presenter and a moderator. The moderator manages behind the scenes to ensure that the technology is working as it should and to respond to and address questions as they arise.
The presenter is the main speaker. When the speaker is in presentation mode sharing content with the audience, he or she needs the moderator to manage everything else and make sure the webinar is running smoothly.
To avoid any last-minute technical problems, always do a dry run the week before the actual session. Plan to be online testing the system 30 minutes before the session starts on the day of the webinar as well.
Get onto the webinar platform as early as possible so that you can check-in with participants who arrive early and work out any technical bugs that may occur. Make sure everyone can log in, and see and hear each other. You can also use this opportunity to start building rapport and set the stage with some early interaction.
These best practices are ideal for smaller groups of under 20 but can work for larger groups as well.
Take advantage of the feedback features offered in your webinar program. You should be able to do basic things like ask yes/no questions for immediate answer, allow your audience to raise their hand, use some form of chat pod, enable audio, and run polls.
Try to sprinkle your webinar with engagement throughout. Let the participants know that you’re going to ask questions throughout or ask them to do things that require their full attention. Since many webinars are speaker-centered, audience members sometimes multi-task during the webinar. By letting them know upfront, you can keep their attention.
Introductions can drain time from the more important part of the webinar so make them short. Ask each participant to drop just one sentence into the chat pod to introduce themselves. You can also get participants to raise their hands, asking a question like, “How many people are from the NY area?” You can also run a quick introductory poll at the beginning to give a chance for everyone to know each other and for you to understand the demographics.
In the introduction, set the tone of the webinar by letting your audience know how to engage and when you’ll be responding. You might demonstrate how to use the software or ask them to try it once to make sure everyone knows how to do it. Let your participants know how and when you will respond so they know what to expect. You might also mention the moderator and their role, and introduce them for clarity.
Be sure to disable or mute other participants during the bulk of the webinar. Only turn it for the individual answering or asking a question. Many people forget to mute their computers or phones, which can be very distracting or cause echo. So, when you’re talking, keep everyone muted and turn them on when it’s time for them to speak.
At regular intervals, stop and ask everyone a quick question and have them mark yes/no, give a hands-up, or comment in chat pod. You can also ask questions for clarity or to understand where your audience is, for example, say something like, “Please give me a yes to let me know that you’re ready to move on.”
Remember that it takes time for people to respond. Slow responses could also be a sign that either people aren’t paying attention or that they don’t understand the content. If you see slow responses, check for understanding.
Polls can help you easily solicit information from your audience. In addition to demographic information, they can used to better understand the types of problems your audience is facing.
For example, a business consultant who is teaching her audience how to use new tech tools could do poll questions about what kinds of problems the audience is trying to solve or what types of tools your audience members are using. It’s interesting for the participants to compare and contrast with other participants, but also gives you great insights into your audience.
It's easier to engage your audience when you're engaged yourself. So, create the energy you want your audience to have. For example:
- Smile during the session. Smiling shows that you’re happy, comfortable, and confident. It will inspire the same feelings in your webinar participants.
- Before you present, stand up, stretch, raise your arms in the air, walk around, and maybe practice power posing. This will help to calm your nerves and get your energy flowing.
- Vary the tone of your voice. Use good intonation and a positive tone. A flat, boring monotonous voice can hurt webinar engagement.
Always thank your audience for their participation, attention, and attendance. Include a short exit survey to solicit feedback and give your participants a chance to give you their opinion.
Finally, don’t forget to follow up after your session by email, thanking your audience, giving them your contact and support details, and providing further information about your products and services.
- What are some interesting topics you could use for a webinar?
- (For example, introduce your product or service; lite version or intro to your product or service; high value topics for your existing clients; VIP topics, training sessions; or success stories in partnership with your clients)
- What are 3 strategies from the module that you will implement in your next webinar to make it more engaging?