Whether it is a training session, business meeting, or product launch, the use of webinar software has become quite popular these days. After the pandemic outbreak, when business events and trade shows were canceled to avoid spreading the virus, webinars were realized to be a great way to reach out to the target audience. Webinars have replaced in-person meetings & events and have proven to be a successful way to create brand awareness and build customer relationships.
Due to the rise in remote/hybrid working models, and increased global expansions, the usage of webinar software is continuing further, and is becoming a part of r every business. Everyone seems to be benefitting from virtual events and webinars, from small businesses to large corporations.
Webinars have proven to be quite helpful for businesses only if they are interactive enough to gain participants' focus and attention. The audience doesn't need to dress up and travel for webinars and virtual events, which means they are not as invested as during in-person meetings. During webinars, the participants can move to another task at any time if they do not feel involved or find the presentation boring. So, to gain your audience's attention and gain predetermined ROI, it is crucial to make sure that your webinars are super interactive that keep audiences engaged.
Making your webinar exceptionally interactive in this AI-driven world starts right from driving registration, generating demand, engaging the attendees, and managing the session with the right visual experience strategies. This article covers everything you need to know about making your webinars super interactive. Let's begin with the basics by knowing what a webinar is and how does it work?
What is a Webinar and How Does it Work?
Webinars are web seminars that are conducted for online hosted lectures, video presentations, and workshops through webinar software. These webinars are usually business or education-related allowing you to share your knowledge virtually with people located anywhere in the world. Webinars can be utilized to create and develop relationships, build brand authority, or provide product demonstrations.
A majority of businesses are adopting a telecommuting model, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. The new “working from home economy” ensures that webinars will stay at the core of businesses’ marketing and sales strategies.
Webinars have now developed from simple online conferences into high-tech events. They come with high-end features like screen sharing capabilities, interactive live chat, polls, Q&A sessions, analytics, and reporting capabilities, integrations with third-party platforms, push notifications, and much more!
So, how did the use of webinars become so prevalent and reach the level they are today? Let's quickly understand the past, present, and future of webinars in the business world.
Advantages of Making Webinars Super Interactive
Deliver Tremendous Value
Interactive webinars, if done correctly, can keep your audience engaged for hours, which pre-recorded videos can fail to achieve. During live webinars, your audience can ask questions, and you can get real-time feedback. Even better, you can ask questions to your audience in real time and personalize your content to serve them better.
Make Sales Without Selling Hard
Interactive webinars can lead to effortless selling if you use the right content. Effective webinar content should highlight issues, dispel concerns, and provide value without much instruction. The webinar’s content should explain to your audience why they need your product/service, and by the time the webinar ends, everyone participating will be interested in it.
Keeps your Audience Engaged
With a video, your audience knows they can pause it for some time and return anytime. But, with an interactive webinar, the audience has a feeling that if they don’t come back or are late in returning to the session, they might miss something important. This improves the attentiveness and engagement of the audience with your webinar.
Qualify New Leads and Build Client Relationships
Providing value upfront is the best approach to establishing a relationship. Interactive webinars allow you to educate and help your leads realize why your product is useful to them in the first place. They help you to build strong relationships with your leads and have real-time conversations.
Chance to Invite Industry Experts
Businesses can invite industry experts to some of these online events if they host interactive webinars on a regular basis. This means companies can tap into the industry experts’ knowledge, skills, and market reach to generate even more leads and spark interest in their brand and products.
Utilizing webinars can be extremely rewarding for your business. According to ON24’s report, some of the benefits of conducting webinars reported by the businesses are -
Now, let's have a look at the most common applications of webinars in a business.
Applications of Webinars in Business
Webinars For Marketing and Lead Generation
Webinars help generate high-quality leads and offer the greatest return on your marketing investment. Webinars have been successfully used by businesses to scale their lead generation and, in turn, increase revenue.
Webinars For Product Demos
Webinars for product demos work wonders for strategically selling the company’s products and building a deeper relationship with existing as well as future customers. Through webinar software, you can showcase real case studies of your existing customers, how they've successfully used your products, and how your attendees can achieve the same results.
Webinars For Employee/Client Training
Webinar software serves as a meeting and training tool for both new and existing employees. It facilitates communicating with a larger team or a team that’s working remotely. Webinars are also an exquisite way to educate your clients on a variety of important things, such as how to make the most out of your products, ongoing offers, etc.
Webinars For Education
Webinars have been increasingly popular as a potent learning tool in recent years, not only among marketers but also among colleges and universities. Webinars are the best method to connect and engage with students, given that there is no requirement for classrooms, and students can learn from the comfort of their homes.
Webinars For Employees/Customers Onboarding and Retention
Whether you are welcoming your remote employees or customers located in another part of the globe, webinars can be a great way of communicating with them and making them feel good about partnering with your organization. Unhappy customers and employees can be bad for the business's financial health. Thus, hosting interactive webinars can be highly beneficial for retaining your employees and customers.
For fulfilling any of the above purposes, businesses can create or conduct the following types of webinars -
Types of Webinars
#1 Live webinars
Live webinars are one-time events that are conducted on a specific date and time. They provide more engagement for the audience as they are hosted by a speaker in real time. Businesses can offer attendees a better learning experience, do live Q&A sessions, and connect with them easily through live webinars.
#2 On-demand webinars
An on-demand webinar provides the audience with the option to view the session at their choice of time. The viewer can pause or rewind the webinar and can also use the chat function along with other interactive tools. Whenever someone uses the chat feature, you will immediately get a mail and can respond to their query. Such a webinar lets you generate leads even after your live webinar ends.
#3 Automated Webinars
An automated webinar is the one that you record in advance. It lets you create a visually appealing webinar and make your webinar as flawless as possible. It offers a great start when you’re not comfortable with the camera and don’t have the bandwidth to conduct live sessions. It is a popular method utilized by businesses offering online courses.
Regardless of the kind of webinar you choose to create for your audience, you can try including the following elements in your webinar to make it more attractive, interactive, engaging, and visually appealing.
What Makes Webinars Interactive?
While it is completely possible to do a webinar without presentation decks, they make your entire session more informative and engaging. Presentation slides help participants to focus on the webinar. Webinar slide decks can be easily created using presentation software such as PowerPoint, Prezi, or Google Slides. While giving a tutorial and educating your audience on how to do something, you can also consider sharing your screen in between.
2. Live Video
In order to host the most informative webinar, it is best to have an instructor or a subject matter expert who can conduct a live webinar. Simply having a presentation slideshow and audio is less personal and not engaging. When the instructor can be seen on the screen live, it becomes a more personal experience for the attendees.
3. Live Chat
Most webinar software offers the live chat feature. It is advised that you keep this feature on during the webinar and use it to interact with the audience. It helps them ask any queries that they have, which you can later respond to in the session.
Using a whiteboard like a flip chart with annotation is a great way to make your webinars more interactive. You can use tools like Google Jamboard to create whiteboard videos and incorporate them into your webinar.
Through polls, you can ask questions to your audience in a more structured way. You can easily view the poll results in a graph, bar chart, or word cloud. Surveys and short polls are an easy way to capture the audience’s interest and can help you structure your webinar in terms of content.
A webinar that includes interactive content and features keeps your audience engaged and helps you gain the desired financial benefits. Below are some essential tips that’ll help you make your webinar engaging and interactive.
Top 10 Ways to Make Your Webinars Engaging and Interactive
#1 Conduct Q&A Before The Webinar
Conducting Q&A sessions in between the webinar is a great way to increase interaction with your audience. And to take these sessions to the next level, offer your attendees to submit their queries beforehand. You can give your registrants the option to provide topics they want to learn more about on the webinar registration page, confirmation page, or email.
When you use this tactic, registrants are more likely to attend the webinar attentively. It also helps you tailor the content around topics that your audience is actually interested in.
#2 Do Instant Polls
When you are planning your webinar, make a list of a few polls that you could use at any time during your session. A poll can be used to re-engage the audience if you feel that things are getting a bit dry or that attendees might be losing attention. A few polls can be purely for fun, just to break up the session and add more spontaneity.
You can break out questions like “Why did you join this webinar today?” or “Who is your favorite industry leader?” at any time during the session. While a majority of the polls should be related to the topic, a few fun questions can be added to keep the webinar fresh and engaging.
#3 Bring in Surprise Influencers and Experts
Invite a powerful and influential person or industry expert who was not previously mentioned. An unexpected guest can really pique attention. This could be a different top expert, a colleague, a well-known author, or a business associate. This can be absolutely exciting for your audience and keep them engrossed, even if the guest speaker only stays for a short while and shares a key industry insight.
For the guest - they will get exposure to a new audience at a very less time investment. If they are unable to make their specific time for your live session, you may even consider pre-recording their piece and playing it during the webinar.
#4 Split Your Content into Bite-Sized Pieces
Go briefly through the agenda of the webinar before diving into the main content. Plan out the structure of the entire session and give your audience a little context into what you’re going to talk about. Make sure that the structure is easy to remember and simple. This can be summarized in a few bullet points and presented as the opening slide.
Keep your slides minimalistic - keep one idea, one quote, or one number per slide - this will draw attention to what you’re saying instead of forcing people to read and make the content more digestible.
#5 Create Open Loops
Creating open loops can keep people interested and anticipating what’s coming. It works for any type of content, whether it’s blog posts, podcast episodes, videos, or live webinars. Think of an open loop as a cliffhanger. As discussed above, split your webinar content into pieces, and at the end of each piece, tease what’s going to come next. It's a great and simple way to keep people engaged and excited about what’s to come.
#6 Challenge Your Audience
Challenging your audience here means giving them ‘homework’ to do. This strategy works well, especially when you are planning to do a series of webinars on a particular topic. For instance, say that you are hosting a series on “How to write an engaging blog post.”
If session one covers points on how to write a great title, you can ask the participants to write some blog post titles and implement what they have learned. During the second session, you can evaluate these titles and offer suggestions for improving them. Your audience will be able to implement the advice, strategies, and best practices right away if you challenge them this way.
#7 Create a Stunning Slide Deck
A dull set of Powerpoint slides is the fastest way to lose viewers’ attention. You will need to give something nice to look at in order to keep them engaged for a good 30 minutes or probably more. Add visuals to your slides and keep text to a minimum.
Create more image-heavy slides that relate to the topic you are discussing. There are a dozen of free presentation tools available that you can use to create a great slide deck and keep your audience engaged.
#8 Switch Things Up Frequently
The human brain requires stimulation to stay activated, which is why you need to keep surprising your audience regularly and spontaneously. Focus on regaining the audience’s attention every seven to ten minutes by switching something up. While creating the presentation, consciously add breaks and resets to keep the attention level high.
You can consider having multiple speakers in the session which can help you break up the uniformity that only having one voice offers. Adding more videos to the presentation will help cover more information and add variance.
#9 Invest in a Reliable and Scalable Webinar Software
Good webinar software is a prerequisite for recording webinars or conducting live sessions. When selecting a tool, you can take into consideration the number of attendees it supports, ease of use, live-streaming options to social media, etc. Webinar software like Zoho Meeting or GoToWebinar lets you quickly create live and pre-recorded events.
#10 Deliver the Best Visual Experience
Using multiple types of media throughout your webinar can keep your audience engaged. Presentation decks, videos, images, and screencasts are some of the most popular media formats you can utilize. They’ll help in engaging your audience and give them something informative to look at during the entire session. You can also consider sharing the presentation slides and other material with your attendees after the session ends.
All your efforts of creating an interactive webinar are only going to be fruitful when you choose the right platform to host it on. Good webinar software plays a crucial role in making the webinar experience better for your audience. It will simplify conducting, recording, sharing, and monitoring webinars with ease.
Role of Webinar Software in Making a Webinar Successful
Collaboration features allow you to interact with your audience throughout the session. Webinar software provides you with the ability to chat with the attendees. Some advanced tools also offer breakout rooms that allow you to split the main meeting room into smaller ones. Features like polls and surveys increase audience engagement and enable you to obtain their feedback at the same time.
Webinar software can offer you much more than standard web conferencing features. Advanced tools like Zoho Meeting can give you a custom solution tailored to the specific needs of your business. If you require a white-label solution, you might have the possibility of creating a platform under your own domain - adjust the appearance and other features so that the platform offers a personalized user experience.
The most popular webinar software provides you with analytics of your webinars which helps you organize more effective sessions in the future. They offer the feature of generating detailed reports with complete insights into webinar statistics. The reports can be downloaded in CSV, XLS, or PDF formats.
Support for Technical Issues
In case anything goes wrong, the support team comes in. Their role is important as they ensure that everything during your webinar goes smoothly without any technical glitches. Along with a chatbot or email support, the best webinar software offers 24/7 assistance.
The best webinar software will support a wide range of external tools that can be easily integrated with your system. For instance, webinar software can be integrated with messaging apps like Slack and also with CRMs and marketing automation tools.
Before 2019, the concept of webinars was not much popular. However, due to Covid-19, it became impossible to conduct in-person meetings and presentations. As a result, the usage and popularity of webinar software increased considerably. Let’s have a quick look at the growth of webinar software after the pandemic.
Growth of Webinar Software
According to research done by GoodFirms, the use of webinars has increased double-fold - 3 in 4 businesses have replaced in-person meetings with webinars for now. Webinars have already been around for a while, but they came into the limelight during covid-19, as people began working from home and marketing activities of businesses shifted to online platforms.
Below are some key observations from the survey:
The research done by GoodFirms summarizes that 16.7% of surveyed people are planning to completely replace in-person meetings with webinars, while 27.8% said that they would adopt a hybrid model - a mix of in-person meetings and webinars.
Webinars are a remarkable way to promote your brand. They are not just effective for marketing but also serve as an efficient sales tool. Even though an informative webinar serves as an amazing start, sharing a basic lecture with your audience might not cut it.
By keeping your webinar interactive, you can make sure that your attendees listen more actively, enjoy the content more, and consider signing up for future webinars. By following the above-mentioned tips and using the right web conferencing software, you will be able to host sessions that educate and captivate your audience regardless of industry or profession.