The best part of a webinar is how engaging and interactive it is (this is the core difference between simply watching an hour-long video on YouTube).
It's smart to use this advantage to meet your audience, ask them questions, survey them with polls, share handout materials, and chat with them directly. It's through these two-way interactions that you'll be able to get the most out of your webinar event.
In that vein, an unsuccessful webinar is when a host treats the webinar like a cold formal training or a recorded video and forgets that the people watching and typing in the chat are real people in the moment; they fail to capture and make the most of the life and community happening in that digital space, and fail to realize that their actual personality and related personal stories are more engaging and more critical to the webinar’s success than they might realize.
— Isa Adney, ConvertKit
Let's break down a few options you have available:
Use polls or questionnaires during the webinar. Encourage comments and respond to them. Pause frequently to ask people if they understand and if they have questions. And try a few jokes!
— Sid Bharath, Growth Marketer and SaaS Consultant
Polls allow you to engage your audience en masse while also giving you beneficial insights you can use—both during and after the event has ended.
As an example, you can use a poll to help determine the most relevant area to focus on within the topic you're about to present or to get an idea of their pre-existing knowledge levels.
Ask for feedback frequently, give them something they can do and participate in during the training.
— Travis Stephenson, President & CEO at Chatmatic
Mastering the chat is essential to keeping your webinar interactive. Not only does it allow your audience to ask you questions or give you feedback, but it's also a place where your audience can interact with each other and build on everyone's energy.
Depending on the platform, you can even bring on Moderators who are dedicated team members who are there to help answer any questions or respond to feedback in the chat.
Exercises that challenge and engage your audience will make your webinar interactive and interesting, activating their brains and increasing the value of your webinar.
Get your audience's gears turning by posing short quizzes or having them write down things related to your presentation like goals or ideas (sharing dedicated worksheets as Handouts is a great idea here).
It gets your audience engaged and taking immediate actions on your material, which means there's buy-in from the get-go.
My team member Wahida had huge spikes in engagement when she showed attendees two versions of a Facebook ad and asked them to chat over whether A or B was the compliant ad. Try to engage people, and they’ll pay more attention. Plus, it puts less pressure on you to do all the talking.
— Joanna Wiebe, Copyhackers