Making Webinars Engaging, Is it Possible?

January 25, 2011

How many webinar invitations do you get a day? I think I get three on average. There are webinars for everything. Free ones, paid ones, sponsored ones and webinars about webinars. Some have video where you can see the presenter, but many simply contain a voice and a PowerPoint show. My question is: how many people actually learn during a webinar?

Yesterday, I gave a presentation that used PowerPoint, a webcam video of me and a chat feature. The audience could see my enthusiasm, but I couldn’t gauge theirs. A few questions came in via the chat feature, but still it was hard to tell if what I was saying was resonating with the audience or if their eyes were glazing over.

There are a lot of engagement tools that can enhance the webinar experience. Using polling can help to get the audience involved. Allowing participants to unmute themselves and interact verbally can also help significantly. However, even with these tools, the presenter is still missing the ability to see people’s reactions to jokes, provocative comments and detailed technical information.

When I am a listener of webinars I often find it hard to focus with so many other distractions like ringing phones and email notifications.

So my question to you is: do you like webinars? How long can they hold your attention? What is the best type of information to share in this type of format?

For meeting planners, how are you using webinars and how have they replaced face-to-face events?
I look forward to everyone’s feedback and to hearing who shares my beliefs that webinars are not the best presentation tool.