In my experience, if hosts are not pro-active in managing the attendees from the first moment they arrive, the text chat will start filling up with questions such as:
Is there anyone there? Have I connected to the right Webinar?
This happens especially if the audience is new to Webinars – after all it can be a very unsettling and disorientating experience at first. Attendees may also be having difficulty connecting to the phone teleconference or via VoIP.
So early on in my own Webinar hosting, I realised that I needed to reassure the audience and use some kind of initial content, or give them something to do.
Over time, I developed a set of ideas which included:
- Making regular audio announcements running up to the Webinar start time for those who join early
- Playing some royalty-free music (assuming this is technically possible)
- Playing a video – but only if all the audience can cope with any bandwidth, plug-in and sound requirements
- Greeting as many as possible by name in the text chat – although this becomes more difficult with larger Webinars
- Having a rolling presentation running with brief instructions and a photo of presenters/host and brief technical details e.g. how to join the audio conference
- Asking all attendees to introduce themselves in the text chat
- Asking all attendees to test their audio
You will be able to add your own ideas for activities to this list – please share yours as comments below this post.
Most importantly, keep communicating with the audience so they can be confident they are ready to take part and won’t miss any of the content when it starts.
Have a carefully-planned set of activities ready and if your session is part of a series, keep the approach consistent so your audience know what to expect and can join in with confidence – this means they will be much more likely to have a great experience and return.