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Webinars are one of the most efficient methods of content marketing out there. However, they’re really only effective when they’re engaging. Think about it— how many times have you tapped out ten minutes into a webinar because it was so… boring? 

Don’t worry, you can admit it here. We’ve all sat through videos that definitely didn’t have webinar best practices in mind. We’re here to teach you how to make sure your webinars aren’t the ones that have people clicking out ten minutes in.

Choose specific topics

Webinars are a great lead generation tools. But their main purpose is to serve your audience, not boost your email numbers. When a webinar holds a viewer’s attention, Adobe found that the average attendee stays onboard for 54 minutes. When considering whether you should invest the time and money it takes to produce a webinar, give some thought to what your topic is going to be. The best webinars are specific, thorough and address certain issues that are important to their audience.

Add value with thought leaders

Consider hosting a panel of thought leaders in your industry, doing a deep-dive on a niche topic, or hosting a detailed how-to video in the form of a webinar. If the ideas you’re considering have been done before, or are a thinly disguised sales pitch in the form of a webinar, hold off on execution until you have a more fleshed out topic to talk about.

Wordstream gives this great piece of advice: “If you claim that your webinar is truly amazing, be sure you can live up to your own hype.

Don’t talk at the camera

I know, this seems like Webinars 101. But we all know there are plenty of webinars out there that don’t follow this very simple rule. Many people look at webinars as videos for people to watch, and technically they are. But this outlook can lead to some pretty dull videos unless you have the energy of a YouTuber. 

A better way to look at a webinar is to think of it as something that viewers are engaging with, so it’s your job to be engaging. Nobody likes being talked at, so talk to them as if they can respond directly to you. 

When the webinar begins, welcome your audience and give them a quick rundown of how the presentation is going to go. Let them know the topics you’ll be covering and in what order— this will allow viewers to know whether the webinar is relevant to their interests and if they should skip ahead or join later.

Use technology to your advantage

You’re obviously pretty technologically savvy if you’re hosting a webinar, but take it a little further. Rather than using screenshots of a website you’re discussing, do a screen share and walk your viewers through the process. Use markup capabilities or even a slide presentation to illustrate your points.

However, I cannot stress enough, do not read slides. Do you enjoy having slides read to you that you are completely capable of reading yourself? No? Then don’t put your viewers through that!  While it’s perfectly fine and even to use slides to enhance your presentation or give your viewers some visual examples of what you’re discussing, it’s the opposite of fine to use them as a crutch. Don’t read slides in webinars, presentations, meetings, or anywhere, really.

A great way to avoid falling into the trap of robotically reading along with your slide presentation is to write a script. Whether you choose to rehearse and memorize the script or just create a list of talking points to make sure you reference, having that backup document with you will keep you from going off on tangents or losing your train of thought as well.

The more the merrier

Consider bringing another person on board. Or two people. Or a whole panel! While a one-person presentation is sufficient, having more people onscreen partaking in an organized discussion is a great way to keep a conversation lively enough to hold a viewer’s attention.

Another way to engage your audience is to actually engage. If they’re viewing the webinar live, dedicate a portion to viewer questions that they can send in via a hashtag. There are even webinar platforms that allow you to insert polls and other interactive aspects into the presentation. Just because you’re not hosting the webinar in front of a live audience doesn’t mean you can’t act like you are!

Give them something to take with them

OK, so people won’t be leaving your webinar with a cool gift bag, but there are other things your viewers can leave with:

  • Actionable advice
  • Contact information
  • Recommendations
  • Whitepaper
  • PowerPoint slides (Adobe also found that 50% of webinar attendees download presentation slides— so it’s worth the effort!)

Search Engine Journal also suggests making your takeaways only available during the webinar or from your webinar promotion. This makes the materials exclusive, and people are more apt to take advantage when there’s a time limit.

Sure, these things aren’t as cool as a Soda Stream or whatever, but they’re valuable in other ways. Make sure these materials end up in your viewers’ inboxes no more than 24 hours after the webinar ends— you want to stay at the forefront of their minds!