How to Make Remote Conferences More Engaging
Posted on: 11 January 2017 by Andre Smith
Treat an online conference much the same way you would a live conference while still keeping your software and hardware in mind and all of your webinars will go off without a hitch.
The use of interactive videocasting with services like BlueJeans has allowed more people to access conferences and seminars remotely without having to spend a lot of money and energy travelling to them in-person, helping to make useful knowledge more accessible. You can host a professional conference using the hardware and software that is already at your disposal for a minimal price.
The only downside is that the lack of physical interaction between the speaker and the audience can make these conferences less engaging than they once were, making the audience feel as if they are just watching a video rather than attending an engaging seminar. There are steps that conference hosts and speakers can take to bridge this gap and make their online conferences just as interesting, interactive, and engaging as live conferences ever were. Here are just a few to get you started during your next seminar:
Do Provide a Tutorial
Rather than just listening to somebody talk or share an opinion about an industry topic, people are much more likely to be interested in something that provides value to them, especially when it teaches them something new. Social Media Examiner says that ‘How To’ videos are especially popular online and get a lot of views. You can liven up your conferences by providing step by step instruction for your audience to follow along themselves in real time. You can even save the video and upload it to a video sharing site later on for people to view again. This also expands your outreach further and allows more people to view your message.
Don’t Include a Sales Pitch
Even if your seminar is intended to promote a new product or service, it isn’t the right place for a direct sales pitch. You can mention the product and its benefits and perhaps even play a commercial while still leaving out the call to action portion. People will be watching your videocast to learn something, not be sold something.
You could also just ask people to follow your Facebook page or visit your website instead. Just becoming more familiar with your brand, product, and your own expert knowledge will be enough marketing. Focus instead on making your seminar a great learning experience for the viewer and providing them with great content and something of value. A much better sales pitch in this context is ‘follow my newsletter for more great content like this’.
Do Include Questions and Answers
To make a webinar truly engaging, you can’t forget about the question and answer session at the end. Just as a job interview always needs time at the end for the job candidate to ask their questions, a webinar needs time to let their audience share their questions too. Otherwise it would just be listening to someone talk for however many minutes, which could be viewed in a static video rather than taking time out of people’s lives. Answering questions also goes further to establishing yourself as an expert in your field who can provide helpful solutions to problems that real people are having.
Smart Blogger recommends setting aside 10 minutes for questions in a forty minute seminar. You might want to make yours longer, particularly if you get some interesting questions. No matter how good your questions and how long you make the final session, make sure it doesn’t go too far overtime as people will still have other duties they need to return to.
Don’t Ignore the Camera
A speaker at a conference keeps their eyes on the audience and regularly makes eye contact. Just because the audience is looking at you through a webcam, doesn’t mean you can’t do the same. In fact, chances are they will be looking closely at your head and shoulders, so eye contact is all the more important. Be sure to look into your webcam regularly and position your notes so that you won’t be looking away too often so that the audience still feels as if you are addressing them.
This will make you come across as much more open and friendly. Test out your webcam positioning before the seminar begins to ensure that you are looking into it correctly and you aren’t looking at an odd angle or positioning the camera straight up your nose. Some webinar tools give you the option of only broadcasting your voice, but to really connect with your customers or colleagues, try to show your face as well.
Like any type of presentation, online conferences take practise but one you do become used to giving a conference through webcams, you will learn how to do so professionally and how best to engage your audience or customers. Treat an online conference much the same way you would a live conference while still keeping your software and hardware in mind and all of your webinars will go off without a hitch.
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