The Path to Participation: How to create a webinar that encourages engagement

webinar questions"People don't pay attention to boring things," says John Medina, author of Brain Rules. Well that seems logical enough, right? So then we can certainly apply this concept to webinar presentations. If you're online, you've got plenty of distractors to begin with – email, work platforms, Facebook…I mean professional blogs, and the list goes on. The question then becomes, how does my presentation drown out the noise. Keeping someone's attention span for fifteen minutues without the internet in the background can be challenging enough!

I've put together a quick list of do's and don'ts for crafting a presentation that evokes participation:

1. DO ask open-ended questions via polling functionality. I call this the pushing vs. polling concept. You must make the shift from pushing information onto your audience to pulling ideas and knowledge in through the interactive tools (pollng) you have at your disposal. This can al give you immediate feedback from participants on topics that are relevant to the presentation to help you steer your next talking point and keep them more engaged.

2. DO NOT assume that your story is interesting. Most of us that have done webinars assume that we've got something interesting to say, and we very well might. And we assume that everything we say will be relevant, and again it might be. But the biggest error we can make is to simply assume we are the reason people showed up to the event. Storytelling is, in fact, a great method of capturing people's attention and carrying them onto the next point, but try this on for size – insert a pre-recorded video clip into your next presentation that further illustrates your story. Maybe its an interview clip from a case study, maybe its a comical blurp from a movie that ties into your message. Give it a try and maybe even throw a poll question in afterward to see if your audience is still engaged. Get creative!

3. DO set up a twitter hashtag for your event & DO encourage people to carry on the conversation. Can't lie – Hubspot has this nailed down. Rather than rewrite the book, take a look at one of their blog posts one how to turn a one-way webinar into a two-way conversation by implementing twitter into the mix of engagement tools.

4. DO NOT be that guy. Oh you know who that guy is – the one that turns the webinar into a re-run of you 4th period history lecture in highschool, everyone slowly nodding off as he spouts off information that answers none of the questions you'll have on the next exam. This rule is pretty logical – its a discussion not a lecture. If you're not solving a problem for your audience you'll lose them in a heartbeat, and you can't understand the problem until you ask. Conversation is key – using chat functionality can be more than just a technical support tool. Reciprocate the questions your audience is feeding you and send them a few to think about during the presentation as well to give you more fodder for discussion as you conduct the webinar. 

Two DO's and two DON'Ts – if you can take these four and begin to apply them to your online presentations I'd say you've got a solid start to determining whether or not your message caters to participation or whether it leans towards disinterest and drop-off.

What do's and don'ts would you add to my list?

Warning: Hot Coffee Can Burn You! (Part I)

Webinars the Easy WayDo you remember when that woman sued McDonald's because she ordered a hot coffee, spilled it all over herself and got burned? In addition to a significant financial compensation, the result of the case was that companies serving hot beverages must print on the cup that the beverage is hot and it can cause burns.

If you're like me, and I know I am, you probably thought "Are you kidding m!?!" and put a perplexed look on your face. This reaction is a result of something nearly everyone (with the obvious exception of the woman who sued McDonald's) has — common sense. And in this case, it is a combination of common sense and an expertise in how hot and cold work.

This article is the warning message on your conferencing "coffee" — if you don't have an expertise in conferencing, these may not come to mind as common sense, but once you host a few webinars you'll forget the time you didn't know these best practices for ReadyTalk webinars:

1. Your audience cannot see you. You're on the phone and you are manipulating a web-based application that they can see. As a general rule of thumb, if you can't see yourself on the computer, your audience can't see you either.

2. The chat feature is typed, not spoken. If your audience is in "Listen Only" mode, they can still chat — but only with their fingers!

3. If you are using Broadcast Audio (sending sound over the internet to participants' computer speakers), your participants are not on the phones and cannot speak to you. Hint: Do NOT ask the Operator to unmute Bill's line — he's not on a line!

4. The private speaker pre-conference is not heard by your audience — it is private, which also means it is not recorded. This is your chance to chat privately with the other speakers and the operator.

5. If you don't want to answer certain questions, assign a co-worker to screen chat questions and you'll be set up for success.

6. If your participants are in Listen Only mode or listening via Broadcast Audio, don't do a soundcheck as a part of your introduction. "Hi everyone, thanks for being here! So can everybody hear me okay? … hello? …is this thing on?"  It is — they just have no way of speaking back at you!  On a similar note, don't tell call-and-response jokes like knock-knocks either! For whatever it's worth, we appreciate the desire to do this, which is why we conduct a formal soundcheck during pre-conference!

7. If you don't tell people about your webinar, no one will attend. Send invitations, publicize the registration link, share it on social media — do it all ahead of time!

8. If you have international speakers, you must book an international speaker dial-in number because they cannot dial US 800 numbers. Similarly, if you have an international audience and you are not using Broadcast Audio, you must book international participant dial-in numbers for each country that might be dialing in.

9. Video clip playback is a great option for sharing video clips with your audience — use it!  If you try to share a video by sharing your desktop and pulling up YouTube, the only way your audience can hear the audio is by you putting the phone up to your computer speakers — which will make for poor audio quality. 

10. Present ideas in numbers people are used to — 3, 5 and perhaps best of all, 10!

Don't get burned because you didn't think through your webinar — keep reading the blog for more great ideas on setting up and running your ReadyTalk webinars and call your Account Manager to set up your event today!

Getting the Best Use Out of Video Clip Playback

Today's post is provided by Brittany Jones, ReadyTalk product marketing intern.Video Reel

The market is buzzing about the creation of ReadyTalk’s video clip playback functionality. This feature was implemented to enable rich video content sharing to engage and capture your audience’s attention. Video clip playback allows you to easily upload and stream short video clips with a one step process. What many of you may not know is this feature can be used by several different users for various use cases to meet your business’s web conferencing needs. We’ve noticed the following users produce more effective and engaging presentations when applying video clip playback:

 

  •        Webinar organizers and presenters
  •        Online Training utilizing subject experts
  •        Marketing and Public Relations professionals
  •        Collaborators and Sales Executives

Webinars:

Marketers and webinar organizers will find video clip playback to be a very useful tool for presenters to help keep their audience engaged. With the ability to reuse video content in webinars, you will recognize more ROI on professionally created video content. Marketing and PR professionals have seen significant positive audience reaction when using the tool to incorporate commercials or share a customer testimonial.

Online Training:

The video clip playback feature has seen vast success with producing highly engaged and interactive audiences during online training sessions. We believe video clip playback is most useful during the training process when using video training and process training clips to keep the audience’s attention throughout the conference. By combining video clips with your presentation, your audience will get the repetition it needs to better comprehend and retain your trainings.

Collaboration:

Sales executives can build stronger leads when using video clip playback as a demonstration tool in a sales presentation. Incorporating short video clip demos of your product or a targeted customer testimonial can make all the difference when trying to pass leads through the sales funnel.

With ReadyTalk, you can rest assured that our reliable service will create the highest quality experience for you and your participants. These specific video clip playback uses can help accommodate the desired needs of your business’s webinar, training, and collaboration goals. Taking these ideas and implementing them into your web conferencing process can aid in producing greater sales results and higher satisfaction from your webinar and training audience.

 

 

New Marketing Intern

Editor's Note: Yesterday, we introduced you to ReadyTalk's summer interns, here's one more intern. Maddie is ReadyTalk’s new marketing intern and will be working here for the next three weeks.  This is her first exposure to the working world, and is very happy to have this opportunity.  Maddie is going into her sophomore year of high school and is very excited to see what marketing is all about and gain some experience while working at ReadyTalk as well.  Outside of work, Maddie loves to dance, hike, and spend time with her family.  She will return to school in a couple of weeks, and is excited to see where her strengths and interests will take her in the future.  

I started working at ReadyTalk only this past week, and I have already been exposed to a myriad of different things.  During the day, I was not confined to my computer, and in fact spent most of my time preparing gift bags and helping with ReadyTalk’s Open House, where customers and neighbors in the area came to see the new building.  Helping with the open house extended from assembling gift bags filled with great ReadyTalk party favors to collecting the tablecloths and ReadyTalk M&M’s after the party.  However, my work over the past few days has not been completely devoted to housekeeping.  I learned how to edit emails in Eloqua and promote webinars through social media sites.  My work over the past couple days has been varied to say the least, but it is safe to say that I have learned a lot.

Not only have I been exposed to different projects and jobs recently, but I met many of the people who work here, at ReadyTalk.  Everyone’s personality is wonderful, and the people here are so friendly and welcoming.  Every person is happy to help you, or simply smile and ask how your day was.  I know I have only been here a couple of days, but working as an intern at ReadyTalk has already taught me a lot and been a wonderful experience overall.

 

New Marketing Intern

Editor's Note: Yesterday, we introduced you to ReadyTalk's summer interns, here's one more intern. Maddie is ReadyTalk’s new marketing intern and will be working here for the next three weeks.  This is her first exposure to the working world, and is very happy to have this opportunity.  Maddie is going into her sophomore year of high school and is very excited to see what marketing is all about and gain some experience while working at ReadyTalk as well.  Outside of work, Maddie loves to dance, hike, and spend time with her family.  She will return to school in a couple of weeks, and is excited to see where her strengths and interests will take her in the future.  

I started working at ReadyTalk only this past week, and I have already been exposed to a myriad of different things.  During the day, I was not confined to my computer, and in fact spent most of my time preparing gift bags and helping with ReadyTalk’s Open House, where customers and neighbors in the area came to see the new building.  Helping with the open house extended from assembling gift bags filled with great ReadyTalk party favors to collecting the tablecloths and ReadyTalk M&M’s after the party.  However, my work over the past few days has not been completely devoted to housekeeping.  I learned how to edit emails in Eloqua and promote webinars through social media sites.  My work over the past couple days has been varied to say the least, but it is safe to say that I have learned a lot.

Not only have I been exposed to different projects and jobs recently, but I met many of the people who work here, at ReadyTalk.  Everyone’s personality is wonderful, and the people here are so friendly and welcoming.  Every person is happy to help you, or simply smile and ask how your day was.  I know I have only been here a couple of days, but working as an intern at ReadyTalk has already taught me a lot and been a wonderful experience overall.