Webinars are a great way to share information and bring people up-to-date with new skill sets. Webinars allow large groups of people to come together without the hassle of coordinating times and places.
Unfortunately, they can also be sparsely attended. People have lots of demands on their time, and sometimes they just do not see the value of attending an online training. In addition to hosting the webinar and providing great information, you are also responsible for giving people a reason to attend.
Short of bribing them with contests and giveaways, here are five ways to make sure that people actually want to attend the webinars you host:
(1) Listen to your audience. You may think you have a topic that would make for a good webinar. But empty webinars are bad webinars. So ask your colleagues about the skills and knowledge they either lack or have curiosity about. Combine their input with your passion to craft a webinar that hits everyone’s sweet spot.
(2) Be prepared. No one enjoys listening to a speaker who does not know his or her material, someone who stumbles through the slides, or is just plain nervous. The best way to sound professional is to practice, practice, practice. You simply cannot over-prepare.
(3) Over-deliver. While we’re on the topic of “over,” make sure you over-deliver. People are more likely to attend your webinar if they know you have something of value to offer. Create a reputation for giving, not just what you promised, but even more.
That does not mean you need to run over on time. People appreciate punctuality, especially because we all have such busy schedules. Instead, use all the tools and technologies available to you to provide the most information you can.
Prepare a course handout with links, figures, and tables in color via PDF. Deliver a PowerPoint in the webinar that people can download. Provide supplemental training in the form of a video or a series of blog posts. Offer follow-up via email. People are more likely to attend your training when they know that ongoing support is available.
(4) Use the buddy system. Lots of people are more talented than me, especially when it comes to technology. I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, and I absolutely cannot deliver solid training while trying to work controls that are too small for me to read and too technical for me to understand.
I am blessed to work with some very skilled course coordinators at the National Conservation Training Center. These fabulous people are well trained in the various technological platforms that we use to deliver online training. They allow me to focus on delivering the best content possible while engaging with my course participants.
Even if you don’t have professionals on your team, you can always grab a friend to work the control panel. Trust me, it is a lot easier to deliver a great webinar with two people than one.
(5) Let the audience participate. I spent 17 years in higher education. I understand the value of a good lecture. Still, as a writing trainer, I am fully committed to the hands-on experience that comes with full audience participation, even in an online training.
People do not need another talking head. They need a safe space in which to apply new information or try a new skill, receive immediate feedback, and try again.
Today’s online learning platforms offer lots of options in terms of audience engagement. I’ll talk about some of those in another post. For now, think about your learning objectives in terms of “do”-ing verbs, rather than “learn”-ing, “know”-ing, or “understand”-ing verbs.
I hope you find these suggestions useful as you plan your next webinar. Let me know if they work for you. And be sure to share any tips you’ve learned as well.
Michelle Baker is the Conservation Writing Pro. She teaches environmental scientists with government conservation agencies how to write more clearly. Contact her for all your writing training needs: [email protected].
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