Whether you are about to host your first virtual event or an old pro looking for some fresh ideas, there are many ways you can encourage attendees to participate during your next webinar or meeting. Some of these ideas are more logistical– for example, creating a concise plan ahead of time and being thoughtful about how long your meeting is. Others, though, involve the types of activities you provide for participants and the best times to schedule each activity through the course of an online event.
One of the primary obstacles of virtual meetings and webinars is overcoming the disconnect that can be present between the host and the audience. While this technology provides an incredible opportunity for people across the globe to connect, it can take some extra planning to ensure that everyone who shows up engages with the material being presented.
Whether you are about to host your first virtual event or an old pro looking for some fresh ideas, there are many ways you can encourage attendees to participate during your next webinar or meeting.
Some of these ideas are more logistical– for example, creating a concise plan ahead of time and being thoughtful about how long your meeting is. Others, though, involve the types of activities you provide for participants and the best times to schedule each activity through the course of an online event.
One simple way that you can encourage people to participate in your webinars and meetings is to ask them for input and feedback beforehand. Ask them what it is that they want to work on during the session and what topics they are looking forward to focusing on. You can also prompt them to suggest the best ways they believe the information can be presented, whether it's in a virtual round table, a Q&A session, a PowerPoint presentation, or another tactic.
You'll find that when people have had the opportunity to help shape the event, they will be much more engaged when they show up to attend. Not only do they know what to expect, which takes some stress away, but they also feel the pride of having had a hand in organizing the session.
If you want people to participate in your meeting, you'll want to create the vibe that things are well-thought-out and ordered.
When an event seems haphazard and chaotic, you'll find people are a lot less likely to fully engage. Before you host your meeting or webinar, thoughtfully plan out the entire itinerary.
The right length of time for your meeting or webinar will depend on its purpose, but it's generally a good idea to keep things on the shorter side.
No matter how interesting the topic, people's attention will start to drift if everything drags on a bit too long. When scheduling your event, be thoughtful about how long is too long.
Encouraging participation in webinars and meetings has always been challenging, and that challenge is only exacerbated by moving these events online. After all, how are you supposed to grab the attention of someone who is only joining you through a screen and inspire them to tune into what's going on?
One of the best ways to reach this end is to make your webinar or meeting interactive. This can mean things as simple as encouraging attendees to choose a fun background, including polls and quizzes in the program, and scheduling activities throughout the session.
Sometimes people need a little help when it comes to exiting their shells and joining the group. When you're putting on a meeting or a webinar, you'll want to give lots of little opportunities for people to really sink their teeth into what is going on and participate.
How do you win the hearts and minds of people that are attending your webinar or meeting? Why, through their stomachs, of course.
One of the best ways to encourage people to participate and put all their attention towards your program is to ensure they are well-fed. After all, what we eat directly impacts our cognitive abilities, mood, and more.
If you've put on a virtual seminar before and felt like you started losing everyone halfway through, it might not be a reflection of the material you were presenting. Instead, it might have just been that all of the participants started to lose focus as their desire to have a snack increased.
We know what you're thinking. How am I supposed to provide food for meeting participants that are located in vastly different regions of the country or even the world?
Don't worry– we've got you covered. Whether you're having a breakfast meeting or a seminar where pizza would be the perfect addition, we're here to help.
Sometimes people need a little encouragement to let their guard down and participate in a meeting or webinar. Icebreakers are the perfect thing in this situation; they allow everyone to get talking, moving, and engaged.
Icebreakers are ideal for beginning a webinar or meeting because it helps get everyone on the same page. You have to remember that all of your attendees are showing up from vastly different experiences– one person might have just dropped their kids off at school, while another might be exhausted from a long day of meetings. In order to help everyone sync up and tune in, an activity like an icebreaker can be the perfect solution.
If you're finding that everything is going well until people start to lose steam part of the way through the webinar, you might want to take a short break and pick things back up again with an energizer activity.
A common practice at webinars and meetings is to have the Q&A at the end so participants can answer their burning questions. While this can make sense in some scenarios, it can also create a reality where meeting participants have to wait until the very end to really participate in the discourse.
Consider having question-and-answer sessions sprinkled throughout the webinar so that people can have their questions answered and engage in dialogue at various points in the program.
Taking breaks is essential if you want people to stay engaged in the task at hand. If you're meeting or webinar is going to be on the longer side, don't forget to give everyone the opportunity to get up, stretch their legs, walk around, and get away from their screen.
You might think that being on a video conference call is fairly stress-free, but that's quite far from the truth. It's incredibly taxing on us to sit on Zoom calls for hours on end. If your participants seem sluggish and disengaged, it might not be that you're boring them– it could be a case of virtual meeting fatigue.
To help ensure that everyone happily participates in your meeting or webinar, give them ample time to recuperate between segments of the program.
If there are resources you want participants to be familiar with as a part of your webinar or meeting, it's best to send them ahead of time rather than trying to cram a bunch of material into a PowerPoint presentation. That being said, assigning reading ahead of time is only beneficial if you can know that the attendees will actually do the reading. Otherwise, you're better off with that aforementioned slideshow.
An in-between would be to send participants a bullet point outline of the most important resources you will be referencing during the webinar or meeting. This way, they can mentally prepare before logging on and be much more mentally engaged and willing to participate.
One of the things that people seem to miss about in-person events compared to virtual events is the networking and interactive aspects. One way you can help to replicate this part of IRL seminars and meetings is by having smaller virtual breakout rooms.
This gives even the shyest participants the opportunity to join the conversation more casually and allows people to get to know one another a little better.
If you want your virtual meeting participants to stay engaged for a lengthy conference session, you're going to want to incorporate breaks, as discussed above. What we didn't mention, though, is that you take a chunk of the break and dedicate it towards some type of active movement that helps everyone move around and refresh a bit before resuming.
For example, you can take a few minutes to do some simple yoga moves together as a group or do some easy stretches. You'll want to think about who is attending and whether you think they will feel comfortable with this type of activity, but a lot of people will likely welcome the opportunity to move around and get their blood flowing before sitting back down in front of the screen.
Scheduling meetings is never easy, and it's particularly challenging these days with the reality that some of your workers might be in a different timezone. The same is true for workshops– participants could be signing on from anywhere in the world.
If one of your goals is to encourage participation, you'll want to be very thoughtful about what time it will be when you start and end your session for each participant. Depending on how spread out your attendees are, you might have to make some compromises in terms of time, but normally you can find a way to hold your meeting or webinar during decent hours for the bulk of your participants.
One great practice for webinars and meetings is using gamification to instantly increase engagement right from the get-go. You might start off with a scavenger hunt where everyone is asked to go find something in their house that is blue, round, and old and then give gift cards to the first five people who return with something that fits the description, for example.
Of course, it's a good idea to consider your audience before you incorporate an activity like this. Depending on the nature of the meeting or the webinar, you might choose to pick an introductory game that is less mobile and doesn't involve a person running all around their house.
If you can choose an initial activity that is well-suited to the group, starting things off with a game right away can be an awesome way to get everyone's mind on board and engaged.
If you've hosted a virtual meeting or webinar before, this bit of advice might seem obvious. However, if you're new to the game, you might think having a host will detract from people's willingness to participate. Maybe you think that the webinar should be more free-flowing, allowing attendees to chime in whenever feels natural.
In reality, that's a recipe for disaster. When you have a host to help steer the ship, the trip is a lot smoother, and participants can relax knowing that someone is in control. The host doesn't have to do the bulk of the talking by any means, but they are tasked with keeping to the agenda and providing an organized and orderly experience for everyone involved.
There are so many awesome ways you can provide entertainment to meeting or webinar participants as a part of your next event. Not only will this help encourage people to sign up for your event, but it will also help them be more engaged once they show up.
Whether you hire a music DJ, a comedian, a magician, or another type of entertainer entirely, this can help take everyone's participation level up a notch.
Putting on a virtual meeting or webinar can feel incredibly stressful, and it can be hard to know how everything will go until you've moved past the intro and icebreakers and are well into your session. If you want to grease the grooves and make sure that your event goes off without a hitch, our pizza experts recommend that you provide each participant with a piping hot, fresh pizza to give them the sustenance and energy they need to give their full attention to the discussion at hand.
Of course, you might not feel there is room in your budget for sending everyone pizza if you are hosting a large webinar. That doesn't mean you can't encourage participation through the deliciousness of a pizza pie, though. As a part of your marketing efforts before your event to encourage registration, you could run a promotion where the first twenty people that sign up get a pizza sent right to their door during the time of the webinar.
Regardless of how you want to spin it, never forget that we're here to help keep your participants from getting disengaged and hangry. If you'd like to send some food to your meeting or webinar attendees, you can start your order today.