December 6th, 2019

Authentic Webinars: It Pays to Be Real

Successful marketing often boils down to one thing: convincing your audience to do a specific thing that leads to a sale. It sounds so simple, but mastering the art of persuasion is no easy feat. That’s where webinars can prove effective because they help companies communicate directly with buyers. One way to make them more effective? Authenticity.

From one-way broadcast to two-way conversation

What we’ve learned from working with and developing the format of webinars is that many still see it as a one-way communication where information is transferred in one direction only; from the sender to the receiver. That means sending a message with no opportunity for feedback or interaction.

An instance of one-way communication could look something like this:

It’s a good way of communicating if your sole interest is to relay specific information. In most cases, however, it’s not very effective. Viewers out there are getting smarter and thus know when they’re being manipulated. That’s why we’re seeing a rising trend in interactive content - and that goes for the webinar category too.

Video marketing is easier than ever and so is being authentic

The digital evolution has changed the way we produce content. You no longer need a fancy TV studio or expensive gear to create engaging content. Good content doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and it’s not necessarily difficult to produce. Good content is not only about the aesthetics, it’s more so about captivating the audience and making them feel heard and seen.

Because it’s so easy to play around with video today, it becomes more relevant to produce video content that feels personal and thereby establishes a real, human connection. If you succeed in that, it will make for a much more engaging experience for the audience; one they might want to come back to again.

Here’s what you can do

How do you create webinars that sound human and invite viewers to interact? First of all, stop seeing webinars as something you send out and get a lead from. The purpose of a webinar should not be purely lead-driven; instead, think of it as an opportunity to hear what you audience has to say. Listen to their feedback. Utilize what they have to say.

Obviously, the goal of your webinar is to deliver a message. But the real-time feedback that you can get at the same time is almost more important. Take a look at these compelling engagement boosters:

1. Challenge your audience with polls

Polls are probably the best way to genuinely engage your audience in a webinar setting. It allows people to speak their minds without having to put it in a complete sentence, and they can even remain anonymous while casting their vote. It’s a safe form of interaction for them and a terrific round of feedback for the creator of the webinar.

Webinar Polls
Image: Live polls can be powerful tool to get your audience engaged. They can help you collect valuable insights or set the scene for the webinar and follow-up tactics.

Remember to give your audience a little time to actually answer the question before you move on. We also recommend the speaker to talk about the question posed and why it’s relevant. If you pull up a poll without mentioning it in the webinar, it might feel like an unnecessary action for the audience. Make your viewers feel like they’re part of your talk by looking at the poll answer afterwards and sharing your insights with them.

2. Panel debates make for a TV-like experience

Rather than having a single speaker going through a long slideshow, think of your webinar as a TV-like experience you’re offering your viewers. Try inviting more speakers, setting up panel debates, and interacting with your audience as you go along.

3. Ditch the slides

Okay, you don’t have to ditch your slides completely, just shave a few of them off. Most of us have tried participating in a webinar with too many slides and too much info on the slides. It becomes overwhelming instead of engaging. The speaker should make sure to always know what to say and not rely on a slideshow as a crutch.

More engaging webinars
When it comes to webinar slides, less is more. Less text, fewer with more impactful images and animations. By focusing on the presenter, panel and leveraging video playback during the webinar marketers can create a much engaging and TV-like experience.

In fact, more times than not, webinar speakers don’t need a meticulously put together slideshow. Try mixing things up, share your screen, invite guest speakers and opt for a dynamic debate instead.

4. Repurpose webinar “evergreens”

The struggle of creating new content again and again is omnipresent for webinar producers. How do you keep coming up with new ideas? Well, you don’t necessarily have to. A common tactic among digital marketers is to host initial on-demand webinar sessions that can be sent out or replayed later.

Some types of webinars can be recycled because they hold value for a new audience every time. That’s why we call them “evergreens”. You can even spice them up later by incorporating parts of it in future, live webinars.

Is there something your audience needs to see to better understand your company or your product? Take that knowledge and package it into a webinar evergreen that you can always use for extra engagement.

Interaction establishes trust and increases value

Don’t worry about making a few mistakes in your webinars; people want to see the real your through the screen. Prepare, practice - but be you. Mistakes happen and they make your webinars all the more relatable.

Use and leverage audience feedback, questions, polls, etc. in your content to make it more authentic. Being authentic is not that difficult, but it really pays off. Show yourself as you are, show your company values and brand personality. Improve. Be real. Your audience will love you for it.