Webinars have become a critical marketing and training tool, especially with coronavirus limiting face-to-face meetings. To attract people to an English language webinar, keep them engaged throughout – and achieve your overall objectives for the event – you need to avoid these 3 mistakes.
Mistake 1: Treating a webinar like a speech
Webinars are about teaching, not just about presenting. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to treat a webinar like a monologue. Yes, the dynamic is different when there’s no physical audience. But you must still act like the audience is right there in front of you.
- Talk for extended periods – speak in digestible chunks and promote conversation
- Structure slides as you would for a presentation – there needs to be a course-like feel with pedagogical elements included
- Read entirely from pre-written notes or slides – this is a fast track to audience boredom
- Structure your agenda around what the audience wants to learn – people are there to learn not be sold to, so focus on practical takeaways and skills
- Make eye contact with the camera – so attendees feel you’re making eye contact with them
- Use gestures and body language – just because you’re sitting in front of a computer doesn’t mean you should sit still
Mistake 2: Not forcing your audience to participate
People join webinars with the best intentions, but inevitably the temptation to multi-task creeps in. It’s common to see high initial attendee numbers decline as time passes. You’re responsible for helping people focus, so make it easy – give them opportunities to participate.
- Waste time with lengthy introductions/narrative – time-poor participants want you to focus on the relevant points
- Put all your information on slides – best-practice English slide decks favor imagery and minimal text, reinforcing points rather than communicating core content
- Let people talk over each other – promote participation but maintain control over the agenda
- Ask in advance what people want to get out of the webinar – so you can focus on relevant content
- Ask questions regularly – Not just: “Does anyone have any questions?” Instead, ask probing questions the way a teacher would, forcing people to engage with the topic. For example:
- “What would you do in this situation?”
- “In what way can you see this technique helping in your day-to-day work?”
- “What challenges do you see with implementing this?”
- Call on participants – depending on how many people are on your webinar, this is an effective way to maintain engagement. You don’t have to wait for people to raise their hand
Mistake 3: Having ineffective transitions between webinar sections
Transitions are common places for attendees to drop off. Think about where sections start and end, and then plan how you’re going to bring people with you through that shift.
- Have abrupt endings that feel like conclusions
- Have awkward silences at the end of a section – people often ask: “Does anyone have any questions?” With no response from attendees. This breaks the flow between sections
- Spend lots of time introducing the next section – get right into the interesting material
- Have a bank of transition phrases that help you move seamlessly – for example:
- The key takeaway here is…
- This links to what we talked about before, because…
- If you note down one thing on this topic, make note of…
- Use short stories – we’re psychologically programmed to respond to stories, so it’s a handy way to engage people through transitions and bring points to life
- Practice – this is the key to confidence. In our training, we record students and grade their progress to help them boost English presentation confidence
Want advice on your English webinar content and presentation style?
We offer comprehensive support with English language webinar preparation – from training to slide content.
Zoe Flaherty, Founding Director of The Language Grid