I love sport. Lots of sports. One of my favourites is soccer (or football, as the purists of the round ball game appropriately call it). To football players the ball is their tool and they use the ball to create value for others and income for themselves. Lionel Messi, the Argentinian legend from the Barcelona Football Club, is currently earning more than 445,000 US dollars every week. Myself, on the other hand, have a total lack of talent when using the soccer ball. In fact, at 7 years of age while I was practising by myself, I tripped over the ball and broke my leg. Yes, seriously, I am that bad.
It was essentially the same type of ball. Messi makes a miraculous amount of money. My Mum got a medical bill. Sorry Mum. It is not the quality of the tool that makes the difference. It is how we use the tool that really matters. For webinar presenters, the chat is a tool that is available to almost all of us. How we use the chat is what will help define the quality of our online presentations and our value as a webinar presenter.
Today’s video presents 8 chat strategies you can adopt to improve the quality of your webinars. If you want to become a better webinar presenter these are simple chat strategies used by the best webinar presenters, and you can easily implement them too.
1. Encourage participants to use the chat
If you don’t ask your webinar presenters to use the chat then they won’t. Ask. Ideally more than once. And make it easy. I usually include a slide that shows the participants where the chat is and I ask them to type in a specific thing to check that it is working for them. Once participants use it once they are much more likely to use it multiple times.
2. Use the chat yourself
“Monkey see. Monkey do.” OK, that is not a very flattering analogy for ourselves as webinar presenters or our participants. However, it is true. Take the opportunity early in the webinar to post a few messages, perhaps before you officially start. If you are worried about the time or potential distraction factor of you posting messages in the chat then strategies 3 and 4 will help you.
3. Pre-prepared list of chat comments
This is so easy to implement. I am unaware of anyone else doing this, but I doubt that I am the only one doing it. Create a new Microsoft Word document or text file. Take 5 minutes to type in several paragraphs of typical comments you might want to include in the chat during your next webinar. Save the file and then before the webinar starts open the file again. Then, when the timing is right, copy a paragraph and paste it into the chat. Each time you finish a webinar tweak your file contents and re-save it. After repeating this procedure for 3-5 webinars I expect you will not know how you delivered webinars without it.
4. Get help
If you are still nervous about contributing or managing the chat then grab a friend and ask them to help. If you are expecting a large number of participants this becomes really important. One option is to solicit one or two of the participants that you trust to make sure they contribute to the chat and help answer others’ questions.
5. Ask lots of questions
If you want people to get busy using the chat then ask questions and ask the participants to provide their answers in the chat. Ask often for the best results because it train your participants to anticipate your chat requests, which will motivate them to stay engaged with your webinar.
6. Invite participants to ask their questions
Never presume that your participants will ask questions unless you very deliberately ask them and convince them that you want them to ask questions and you will answer them. I am a big fan of answering questions during the webinar as opposed to waiting until the end. I recognise that it might not be feasible for presenters to answer every question during the webinar, but if you answer only some it can help your participants recognise that you are not like their despised teacher from day long gone who was there only to lecture. Instead, they will more readily accept that you are genuinely there to help them learn and respond to your participants’ needs and preferences.
7. Create a social environment in your chat
Humans are social creatures. The rise and rise and rise of social media is a testament to our basic nature that we like to interact with others. If you can assist your participants in interacting with the other participants then you may have created something more powerful than a webinar – A community. If your participants like the other participants on your webinar then some people may return to your future webinars primarily to hang out with their friends. You won’t mind that if it gives you the opportunity to help them again. Of course, this is really only possible to accomplish with Group Chats.
8. Thank your participants
Thank your participants for contributing to the chat in two important ways, which are to:
- Thank them for their individual contributions by reading their messages and acknowledging their valuable contributions; AND
- Thank your audience generally for their enthusiastic participation in the chat.
It’s all about engagement
This training article is the third of 5 consecutive weekly articles dedicated to helping you create engaging webinars that your participants will love. Later this month I will release my new Webinar Engagement Checklist (which you can pre-order here). You will be able to use the checklist to self-assess your level of engagement when you present webinars and score yourself. If you are not yet presenting webinars then the Webinar Engagement Checklist will give you the chance to best practice engagement habits before you even start presenting webinars and avoid some bad habits.
How effective are your chat strategies?
You can register now to obtain my free Webinar Engagement Checklist to be released later this month. Put simply, it is your chance to identify lots of options for making your webinars engaging and interesting to your participants, including improving your chat strategies. It will help you identify:
- What you are doing well
- What you can do better
- New ideas for improving engagement
If you want to be one of the first webinar presenters to get a copy click here and it will be automatically emailed to you when it becomes available.
What ways do you use chat for maximum benefit during your webinars?
I seriously want to know what YOU think. Please click here to share your thoughts with myself and others in the YouTube video comments.
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