I was asked by email to provide some thoughts on tips to keep people engaged during webinars. We do a lot of webinars - I've done probably 50 myself and our team at HubSpot has done hundreds, and we've had over 100,000 views of our webinars in total. In fact our last webinar had over 20,000 people register for just that one webinar alone.
Here are the unedited and unpolished thoughts about some tips to increase webinar engagement from the email I sent.
Before the webinar starts:
- Have scrolling slides with quotes, facts or questions to keep the people who dial in early engaged (think of this like the slides with the trivia before a movie starts) - staring at a blank screen is boring
- Tell people how they should engage and what will be expected of them - tell them what the hashtag will be, etc.
- Tell people if the slides and recording will be made available and when / how they can get them
During the webinar:
- Have a helper (not the presenter) answer all the Q&A questions that relate to tech support or confusion or administrative issues immediately
- Use poll questions (if you want) - but if you do, make sure to move through them quickly, and I would not use more than 3 of them during a webinar
- Use a lot of slides - to keep someone engaged in a 45 minute webinar, I use as many as 90 or more slides sometimes. If you use too few slides, they are staring at one slide while you talk for 5 minutes. That gets boring, and they will open up another window and check email. keep the VISUALS moving to drive more engagement. The slide deck you use for a webinar should be DIFFERENT than what you use in person. Webinar slides can have more text and be more dense, people have more ability to digest them in a webinar vs in person presentation.
- Use both Twitter AND the webinar system Q&A for dialog and questions (PS - HubSpot was the first company to use Twitter for Q&A during a webinar back in 2008!)
- When you answer a question, mention the name of the person who asked the question - it make it more personal to the audience
After the webinar:
- Keep the chatter going on the hashtag, no reason it has to stop the second the webinar stops, keep the engagement through Twitter chatter
- Always give people a "next step" of what they should do to if they want to learn more about the topic or learn more about your company (both is better!)
- Make sure to follow up in 24 hours or less with the slides and recording
- Give people a place to ask any follow-up questions - it can be comments on a blog article, a discussion forum, your facebook wall, whatever. But give them a specific place to ask questions (we tend to get a lot of people at our webinars - our last one had 20,000 people register)
Our next HubSpot webinar is "The Science of Timing" which will reveal all of our research about when to blog, tweet and more to get the best results. http://www.hubspot.com/the-science-of-timing/ We already have 13,000 people signed up for it. It is going to be awesome.