Webinar polls and engagement tools can make your webinars better. Much better.
Have you ever been a teacher? Have you ever been gobsmacked by a comment from one of your students? I remember the day a student came in late to one of my classes in how to become a trainer. He explained to me that he was looking forward to becoming a trainer because he didn’d like people. Seriously. He figured that by becoming a trainer he could just stand up the front of a class and tell people what he knew. His class attendees would listen attentively to his every word then break into applause at the end in recognition of his efforts. He wouldn’t have to deal with any annoying or needy people and his life would be fully of wonder and classrooms of joy.
The reality is that classrooms are not like that. The best face-to-face teachers are those who actively engage their class participants and talk WITH them rather than AT them. It is the same for webinars. To engage the heart and soul of our webinar participants we need to talk with them, ask them questions and answer their questions too. The most successful training benefits from two-way flows of information through which our participants learn most effectively and the trainers do too. And for webinars, it is chat, polls and the other engagement strategies presented in this article and the accompanying video that create those successful exchanges of information.
My previous two articles and videos discussed the types of webinar chat and chat engagement strategies. In this article we focus on polls and other engagement tools. Today’s video presents 8 specific strategies you can use to improve the quality of your webinars. If you want to become a better webinar presenter these are simple strategies used by the best webinar presenters, and you can easily implement them too.
1. Conduct webinar polls
Webinar polls are often underestimated in their ability to re-establish connection of participants with the webinar. If the poll is enthusiastically introduced this magically brings participants back to the webinar. People like having something to do especially in this era where multi-tasking and participating in online social activities is so popular. Unless you have a very compelling reason to the contrary, I recommend that you conduct at least 2-3 webinar polls each time you fire up your software.
2. Ask for hands up
Some (but not all) webinar software provides a “hands up” feature where the participants can raise their virtual hand to mimic what the well-behaved kids do in the classroom. In a webinar however, you do not need to raise your hand to go to the bathroom. Instead, skilled webinar presenters use this feature to solicit answers to Yes/No questions or to create a visual affirmative response to a question of value to them. If your participants have access to audio (through either a microphone or telephone line) that can be muted by the presenter then you are welcome to duplicate my approach of letting the participants know that if they want to go live during the webinar with a question or comment then they should raise their hands to get the presenter’s attention.
3. Plan activities
Before the webinar plan activities so that your participants can enjoy activities either before, during or after your webinar. Your ability to use this strategy is only limited by your creativity.
4. Split the participants into break-out rooms
Some webinar software, led by some of the corporate systems, have added break-out room options. This provides the opportunity for the presenter to build community and cooperation between the participants by dividing them into groups and then allocating the groups either the same or different tasks or mini-projects. Clear instructions are required by the presenter to make this work effectively, but it can have magical outcomes if planned carefully. It is important to debrief the break-out activities so that the participants obtain an understanding and maximum learning from the break-out activities.
5. Creatively use the offer button
Most webinar software does not have an offer button (yet), but if there is one it is a magical tool to be creatively employed. An offer button is a prominent button that can be clicked on by the participant to open another browser tab or window which takes them to a specific URL selected by the webinar organiser. Most typically, the webinar organiser sets up the offer button so that it provides prominent one-click access from the webinar to a product sales page. However, an offer button could be used to re-direct the webinar participant to any URL selected by the webinar organiser. If you do have an offer button in your webinar software I encourage you to be creative and use it to enhance your webinar’s objective.
6. Show a video
Some webinar software provides the option to show a video. This is not a widespread option yet, but in coming years I expect almost all webinar software programs to provide this functionality. Consider identifying a relevant video, crack open the virtual popcorn and show a video while you give your concentration and voice a few minutes of welcome respite.
7. Share a survey
Surveys are a great way of continuing engagement with your participants beyond the webinar whilst also enabling you to gather valuable feedback about whether or not you achieved your webinar objective.
8. Give your participants post-webinar tasks
You can keep your participants remembering the content and purpose of your webinar after the event has ended by pro-actively asking them to do something after the conclusion of the webinar. This might be a specific research project or give them resources or references to look at, perhaps even on your own website. These types of strategies can be very effective in maintaining engagement with your participant well after the webinar has ended, but they are not used by the majority of webinar presenters. Advance planning is required to identify these post-webinar tasks, and this ideally should be part of your webinar planning process.
It’s all about engagement
This training article is the 4th 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 polls and engagement strategies during your webinars?
What do YOU think? Please click here to share your thoughts with myself and others in the YouTube video comments.