I’ve been hosting webinars over the last year or so and in that time have noticed different approaches to delivering content in the webinar and to making the events themselves more engaging for participants.

Here is a distillation of what I have seen along the way. This is by no way an exhaustive list so please add to it in the comments.

  1.  As attendees arrive make sure you welcome them. Maybe even be chatting on arrival (if you have a co-host) as this will help feel as if people are there Mike Morrison and David Smith did this to great effect by talking and screen sharing while attendees arrived.
  2. Ask attendees questions on arrival so they can answer them in the text facility – for example, ask where are people from.
  3. Make sure you provide tech assistance – some participants will have issues so be there to help them out, especially at the start.
  4. Run polls through the presentation to enable delegates to interact with the session. Poll results can be a good way of  sparking more questions to the participants.
  5. Pose questions during your presentation – participants will answer.
  6. Keep an eye on the text stream and answer questions as they arise – without hindering your flow too much (or acknowledge the fact there are questions coming in and you will answer them later).
  7. Have a co-presenter/moderator to manage the questions and run a Q&A at the end of the presentation. The co-presenter should note down all questions that come in and be ready to ask them in the Q&A.
  8. Open up questions live to participants. If someone raises an interesting point then message them to see if they will go on live to share their thinking. You can then have a brief one-to-one during the presentation that all can hear.
  9. Enable text chat for all to see – this was a neat feature of the recent Learning and Skills Group online conference. All participants (including the moderator and speaker) could see the discussions as the presentation progressed – this meant participants could discuss points and the presenter could respond too. The word cloud above is from the transcript of one of the sessions.
  10. Create a Twitter hashtag for the event and use it. This enables more conversation beyond the confines of the webinar itself and can be great for questions too.

Key to making the webinar a more social experience is for the organiser and presenter to approach it as such – a two-way event which has more of a feel of a conversation.

To that end, make sure you explore the social tools that sit within your webinar technology and try them out.

Delegates who feel like they are ‘taking part’ in a webinar rather than ‘listening in’ will stay around longer.