So, you’ve taken the plunge. You’re taking your company’s content strategy to the next level with webinars. But how do you engage your webinar audience? How do you keep them glued to their seats until the very end?
Start with a Topic That Will Engage Your Webinar Audience
Here’s where all the time you spent creating your buyer personas will pay off in spades. Brainstorm with your content teams to come up with topic ideas that will keep your attendees on the edge of their seats until your presentation ends. During content collaboration, ask questions like:
- What keeps our target customers up at night?
- What problems do they face in their businesses and their lives?
- What information do they need to solve those problems?
Then, plan educational content around that topic. Focus on ways that your industry expertise can help them solve their problems and satisfy their curiosity without a self-promotional slant. People will be sure to leave when a webinar that promised valuable information turns into a used-car sales spiel.
If you can, partner with related but non-competitor companies to conduct your webinar, as Jori Hamilton advises. Likely, your webinar content will also interest their followers. And, working with related brands exposes your brand to their followers as well. It’s a win-win proposition.
Construct an Outline & Gather Materials
Next, work with your teams to sketch out an outline of what you’ll cover in your webinar. As conferencing software provider My Own Conference points out, stick to your main topic. Presentations that go off on unrelated tangents are sure audience killers.
Research your topic thoroughly, so you’re prepared to answer any questions your audience has during your presentation. Additionally, having authoritative content to reference during your presentation will position your brand as an authority in your field.
Find visuals that grab your audience’s attention. Infographics with key statistics on them, short videos, or images that evoke your audience’s emotions are all excellent choices. Just make sure that they help you drive your main point home.
Turn It into a Story
Now that you have a roadmap, organize all your material into a cohesive presentation that tells a compelling story, complete with characters and an intriguing plotline. Here’s why.
Research shows that people identify with the characters in a story. So whether your characters are fictional or real-life testimonies from case studies, your audience will be more likely to immerse themselves in your webinar.
It’s not just the characters. It’s the story itself, especially the emotional components, that “light up” your audience’s brains. Hearing stories activate the “happy hormone,” oxytocin.
The more they listen, the happier they’ll feel. So, the more story you inject into your presentation, the more likely they’ll stick around to the end.
In fact, studies show that your audience’s brain waves begin to synchronize with your own as your story unwinds.
That’s huge. When your audience identifies with your story’s characters and you as the storyteller, they’ll naturally gravitate toward something you hold dear – your brand and the work you do.
Even better, make your audience the central character in the story. When you position them as the hero of the story, you’ll build an even stronger emotional bond. And, as research shows, 95 percent of purchasing decisions come from the subconscious, emotional part of your brain.
Use your audience’s pain points as the story’s villain. Loose them from their helplessness and worry. Show them how to defeat the dragons in their lives. Use vivid wording, especially action verbs, that will keep them engrossed in the action.
Polish It Up
Start with your full set of notes. Then, organize them into three main points if possible. As public speaking coach Andrew Dlugan advises, using this classic “rule of three” format makes audiences feel “naturally comfortable.”
Near the beginning, make sure that you tell your attendees what’s in it for them. Even if you’re shaking in your boots and everyone can see it, they will be willing to stick it out until the end if there’s something big they can gain from your webinar.
Then, add transition phrases to keep your audience’s attention glued to your story throughout your presentation. Transition phrases give your hearers a roadmap for the beginning, medium, and end of your story.
After you’ve introduced your main topic, let your audience know how many points you’ll make in your message. Doing so allows your audience to make a mental outline of your presentation, making for better understanding.
Use wording like “There are three major factors that impact [Insert your topic, usually one of your audience’s pain points]. Let’s look at each one in depth to discover how to tackle it.” Using these phrases reinforces the main topic and connects it to what’s coming afterward.
Then, introduce your first point with something like, “Let’s start with,” “First,” “For starters,” or another expression that tells your audience that what they hear next will be your first point.
After you discuss your first point in detail, use a transition phrase like “Moving on to my next point,” “Next, let’s look at another aspect of [your main point],” or another verbal signpost.
Using “In conclusion,” or “Finally,” to introduce your final point often causes people to stop listening before your presentation is over. You can almost hear them fishing for their cell phones and glancing at the door.
Instead, use words like “What I’d like you to take away from this story,” “The idea I’d like to leave you with,” or similar words that encourage people to listen until the end.
Finally, plan a compelling, easy-to-remember call to action at the end of your presentation. After you’ve finalized the storyline, add notes that point out where you’ll show each of your visuals. Now you’re ready to put it all together.
Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect
If you’re not used to public speaking, no worries. The old saw, “practice makes perfect,” can help you conquer stage fright and deliver a compelling story.
But don’t make your expectations so high that you can’t achieve them. Of course, there will be glitches now and then – so learn to roll with them and learn from them so that your next presentation will be even better.
First, practice with your full notes until you have a mental picture of where you’re going with your story. Then, wean yourself off your notes until you only need to glance at them occasionally.
Next, pour on the emotion in your voice. Learning a few tips and tricks from professional speakers can help you express yourself in a way that draws in your audience and makes you feel more confident.
After you’ve sharpened your presentation skills and memorized most of your talking points, it’s time to set the date on your content calendar and publicize it on your company’s website and social media channels.
Then, keep practicing until the day arrives. After the event, follow up with your attendees with useful content that will help them put the principles they learned in the webinar into practice.
All this planning and preparation sounds like a lot of work. But if you have a single place to manage your webinar content from ideation to content measurement, you can create, collaborate on, and refine your presentation, it will go a lot easier.
With the DivvyHQ content marketing platform, enterprises have everything they need for expert content management under a single digital roof. Even better, your teams can try it for free for 14 days. Give it a test drive today!