Now that we are spending more time at home with our computers than ever, it’s a good time to brush up on webinar etiquette. Webinars give brands the opportunity to connect directly with their audiences. On the other hand, consumers can increase their knowledge on a topic. It is beneficial to everyone when done correctly, but not all webinars go smoothly. I once attended an email automation tips webinar that was actually a full product demo. Oh!
Then you have situations where the presenter is late or the attendees have too much fun in the chat room, which isn’t exactly the best experience for either party. So, let’s find out how presenters and attendees can contribute to more productive webinars.
<h2>Webinar Etiquette Tips for Presenters</h2> Set the tone. Present what is expected. Do a practice round. Read the questions and answers aloud. Make the webinar accessible. Record the session.
1. Set the tone.
Every webinar format is different. For example, some are based on education, with the presenter only interacting with the audience to ask questions. In other cases, the setting is more interactive. With that said, let your audience know what you expect from them up front. Send a reminder email to your attendees a few days before the webinar and include a section on guidelines. Be sure to answer the following questions: Are attendees expected to have their cameras and microphones on or off? Is participation encouraged? If so, how? Is there any prep work? You can also remind your attendees of these instructions at the beginning of the webinar, as people log in.
2. Present what is expected.
Imagine you order a medium steak at a restaurant and instead get a piece of chicken. That piece of chicken may be delicious, but it won’t matter because it’s not what you ordered. Meeting expectations is very important when trying to gain the trust of your audience. For webinars, there are few things more frustrating than anticipating a presentation on one thing and getting something completely different. Shifting gears can cause confusion and lead to high churn rates and low participation. Additionally, each type of webinar has a purpose and is aimed at a unique audience. For example, workshop attendees may not have the same intentions as attendees at product demos. With this in mind, resist the urge to turn your webinar into a promotional opportunity (or anything else) if it’s not on the agenda.
3. Do a practice round.
Technical difficulties are a bummer. They disrupt the flow of the presentation and can be difficult to retrieve. One way to prevent them is to practice beforehand. First, get familiar with the hosting platform you will be using. Learn where the key features are, like how to: Share your screen. Play audio and / or video clips. Highlight attendees and adjust your audio / video settings. You may consider having a moderator to assist you during your presentation to monitor the chat room and help you move forward. Once you feel confident navigating the platform, test your presentation from start to finish. Doing so will let you know how much time to spend on each section to meet the schedule.
4. Read the questions and answers aloud.
When you attend a presentation in person, there is usually no guessing game when someone asks a question because you can hear it being asked. Online, things work differently. Depending on the hosting platform you use, you likely have a question and answer feature that allows attendees to ask questions directly of the host. This means that other attendees will not know who asked a question and what the question was. As such, presenters should always repeat questions out loud before answering them, so that the audience understands the context of the answer. However, keep the attendee’s name anonymous unless the attendee has requested otherwise.
5. Make the webinar accessible.
Webinars can be great sources of information, but they may lack the accessibility features necessary to reach all audiences, including the deaf, hard of hearing (HoH) and visually impaired. Start by reviewing your hosting platforms. Apps like Zoom and Google Hangouts they have built-in live caption and transcription features. You can also send presentation slides to your attendees in advance, making it easier for non-native speakers to familiarize themselves with the content. Depending on your budget, you can hire an interpreter to sign your presentation for your deaf and / or HoH hearing. If that’s not possible, look for video relay service providers that will connect your audience with interpreters during your presentation. For the presentation itself, use high-contrast colors to make it easier for visually impaired attendees to view your slides.
6. Record the session.
When hosting a webinar, only a percentage of your registrants may attend the live session. Due to scheduling conflicts, many people rely on video recordings to review missed sessions. While not absolutely necessary, it is a great way to provide value to users who are interested in your brand but cannot attend live sessions. You can limit access to the recording for a week or two after the live session and add a password to access the footage for added security.
<h2>Etiquette Tips for Attendees Webinars</h2> Arrive on time. Chat to amplify, not distract. Do not interrupt. Avoid self-promotion.
1. Be on time.
Webinars often follow strict schedules, which means there is very little room to catch up if you have missed a part of the presentation. To get the most out of the webinar, make sure you are on time. There is usually a grace period of one to three minutes for attendees to log into the hosting platform. To play it safe, join the webinar a few minutes early in case you have trouble logging in. This will give you enough time to contact the webinar organizer for help. You can also set reminders in the days leading up to the webinar to make sure you are ready when the event starts.
2. Chat to amplify, not distract.
Think of the “Chat” box in a webinar as in a classroom. Except, in this case, you can’t whisper to the person next to you. Everything you say is loud enough that everyone in the room can hear and participate. With that in mind, your contribution should only be to amplify what the presenter is saying. For example, let’s say you attend an email marketing automation webinar. The presenter explains the benefits of setting up email sequences once a potential customer takes a specific action. You could intervene in the chat to add how effective that practice has been for your brand. However, it wouldn’t be as helpful to present a conversation about email click-through rates or dive into your experience using a particular automation platform. As a general rule, if you are not online with the presentation, please leave it out of the chat room.
3. Don’t interrupt.
As a presenter, interruptions can really divert you from your game. It interrupts your thought process and it can take a second for you to get back to normal, no matter how experienced you are. You only need to unmute to add your entry if the presenter has opened the floor for you. As a professional courtesy, do not interrupt the presenter unless explicitly stated that you are welcome. Instead, wait for a call to action. The presenter can have a dedicated slide for questions and comments, or can ask out loud if anyone has anything to add.
4. Avoid self-promotion.
Self-promotion during someone else’s webinar is like blow out someone else’s birthday candles, it’s in bad taste. If requested, it is appropriate to mention your brand in regards to the content of the presentation. What you should avoid is trying to direct other attendees to your brand through your website and social links or other strategies. By following a few simple steps, you can help create a more positive webinar experience that everyone will enjoy.