Holding events online is the new normal, which means that your customers are probably attending at least a few webinars every week, and things are probably starting to blur together. Worried that your Zoom meeting or other online events are getting lumped in with the rest? Read on for some tips and tricks to upgrade your virtual presence and help your business shine!
- Use rotating slides to help folks get started on their own
Those awkward quiet moments before a meeting starts can be even quieter and more awkward online since, unlike a meeting held in person, attendees might feel like they can’t introduce themselves or start talking to the folks at the next table. Get your webinar off to a good start by putting this time to good use!
As people sign in, have a rotating slideshow playing with three types of information: 1) some engaging information about your business, 2) some housekeeping and quick rules for the meeting, and 3) some icebreaker prompts that early attendees can work on before the main event. Here are some examples to get you started:
Slide #1: Engaging Information
- Information about the speaker – name, title, contact information, and professional photo
- Information about the organization – logo, motto, mission or values
- An interesting or little-known fact – maybe an award, accomplishment, or quote
TIP: Keep this short and sweet – no long blocks of text! Lists are your friend here.
Slide #2: Housekeeping & Rules
- Tips for getting the most out of the meeting, ex: plug in your charger, grab something to drink, get ready to take notes, get ready to ask questions
- Frequently Asked Questions/FAQ, such as a screenshot of the webinar platform showing where to find the buttons for mute, raise hand, etc.
- Important rules, such as when muting/unmuting to avoid background noise or encouraging people to use video so everyone can see one another for a more personal environment
TIP: When sharing rules, include a quick explanation so participants understand why they’re being asked to do something and how it will benefit their experience
Slide #3: Icebreaker Activities
- Have participants introduce themselves in the chat by name and one cool/unexpected fact
- Ask participants to enter their social media handles in the chat so others can find and follow them
- Ask participants to share what city or state they are in if folks are dialing in from all over, it can be fun to see who’s in the “room”
- Have participants answer light trivia questions or polls
TIP: If you or your speaker has the time, participate in some of the icebreakers yourself along with your attendees to create a sense of mutuality and shared experience
- Open the main event with flavor
After you’ve created some momentum with those interactive opening slides, you’ll want to make sure the event itself continues that energy! Luckily, there are lots of options for opening your main event with flavor. Consider playing energetic music as an introduction, or maybe sharing some fun video slides while you review the rules or housekeeping items from the opening slideshow. And it might be common sense, but it still bears repeating: sound energetic, enthusiastic, and excited to be there! Important tip: if you want to upload your video to Youtube, then you will need to make sure that you own rights (or have permission) to any music played during the webinar.
- Spice up the format of your webinar
The reality is that your attendees are probably dealing with a lot of online events right now, which means a lot of talks and lectures. So spice up yours, and you’ll stand out from everything else in someone’s long week! Here are some things that you can try instead of relying on one person speaking to everyone else attending.
Alternate Format #1: Include individual work time to foster learning
- Plan activities for attendees to apply the information they’re learning in some way. Worksheets, writing prompts, and discussion posts are all good ways to start.
- Give people some time to work on these activities by themselves for a bit before bringing everyone back into a single group for discussion.
- Provide clear signals for the beginning and end of this segment. Let participants know how long the individual work time will last, and put a countdown timer on the slide to let them know how long they have left. Play soft music during work time and stop the music as a signal letting everyone know that time is up.
- TIP: Let the group know from the beginning that your event will include a talk, individual work time, and share-out time. This way, they’ll know what to expect, but they’ll also be committed to staying through the webinar and actually completing the work.
Alternate Format #2: Use interactivity to create engagement and lasting impact
- Create opportunities for participants to network. The social media-sharing icebreaker is one way of doing this; breaking a large meeting into 1:1 time or smaller groups is another. This way, participants can get to know each other on an individual basis, share their experiences and perspectives, and get feedback from one another.
- Build in time for a Q&A session so that participants can engage with the speaker. This is also a great way for them to expand their knowledge of the content and continue making connections. Prior to each discussion, remind participants to restate their name and company before speaking, so that they can get to know and remember other participants.
- Be prepared for possible tech issues or delays
No event will be perfect, but there’s still a lot that you can do to make sure yours runs as smoothly as possible. Practice any processes that you might be planning to use during your event, such as screen sharing or breaking people into groups and bringing them back to the main room. Have a team member standing by as the dedicated webinar assistant, so you can focus on running the event and they can help participants directly. Finally, have an activity or two prepared for people to complete using the chat feature, just in case you do run into technical issues or delays: this will keep the momentum going until you can get the main event back online.
We hope that you’ll try out some of these ideas to make your webinars more engaging for everyone involved! For monthly masterclass trainings and access to tools and templates, become a member of Sistahbiz Global Network.
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