Don’t Call it a Comeback…The Rise of Webinars

Over the past week we've seen a couple of posts talking about the rising popularity of webinars and virtual meetings. At GovEvents, we saw a 30% increase in the number of webinars posted on our site in 2013.

Given general industry trends, this increase makes sense as there are some key advantages to webinars including:

- Eliminating the time and expense of travel - this is especially true in the government market where there have been tight restrictions placed on travel spending

- Potential to reach more people the day of the webinar as well as through an archived link

- Connection to and interaction with social platforms

For agencies and organizations looking to jump on the webinar bandwagon, the medium does present some unique challenges. If people are watching online, they can easily get distracted and start toggling between your webinar and their email, Facebook, or the key deliverable due that day. It is critical to keep the content exciting and interactive.

To keep participants on your screen, make sure you have dynamic speakers and interesting graphics (that require/invite close inspection to pull out interesting stats or details). Have your speakers stand to present - even if they can't be seen. When a speaker is standing their voice is more engaging and energetic than when sitting.

Think about building in polling. Not only does it "force" people to stay on your screen, it can give your speaker some great insight to make the presentation more applicable to the audience.

Webinar Q&As can sometimes feel more cumbersome than watching someone with a microphone sprint around the lecture hall trying to get to the next person with a question. In advance of the webinar, think about how you will cull through submitted questions and comments. Have a dedicated resource monitoring questions and set a prioritization. Seed some questions yourself to ensure there is not an awkward pause at the beginning of a Q&A when people start feverishly typing.

On the topic of questions, see if there is a way in your webinar program to post the answers to the frequent logistical questions that bog down the Q&A period and the session in general. Use a bulletin board type space to post things like call-in number (if applicable), information about where the presentation will be found after the session, how to submit a question, etc...

After the webinar, archive the session so others can access the content after the live event. Promote the--now on-demand--webinar and the content through your social channels in the days and weeks after the event.

As an organizer, what have you found makes webinars work? As a participant, what are your biggest webinar pet peeves?

Photo credit: Cloud Sherpas

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