Webinars are a very effective means of communicating with your audience. You can teach people almost anything during a webinar if you plan everything correctly. It’s really as good as a live in-person event, but without the added hassle of travel expenses. The audience actually doesn’t even need to get dressed. But, let’s not think about that. Instead, let’s talk about what is different about a webinar compared to an in-person event; the chat.
During a live in-person event, everyone listens intently to the speaker. But during a webinar, when the chat is open there is multitasking going on. Participants are chatting with others during the event, or asking random questions, perhaps complaining about poor sound or other issues. It can be very distracting. Therefore, it’s imperative to learn to use chat effectively.
Explain the features to your audience. Start off explaining to the audience in the introduction phase how the chat works. Encourage them to only use it to ask important questions or to answer questions. Explain how important it is to pay attention to the presentation and let them know there will be a specific Q & A segment.
Assign a chat monitor. It’s imperative that you have someone on your team to monitor the chat window. It’s best if that person is signed in as a regular guest. That way they see what the guests see and not what the presenters or hosts see. This helps them identify better with the participants and know whether or not everything looks as it should.
Respond to complaints. Give the monitor full freedom to respond to complaints as necessary. Set up a way for the monitor to text the host of the webinar if there is a serious problem such as slides not advancing, sound not working or the picture looking bad. Some of these issues will be due to poor set-up by the participant, and the monitor should understand how to go to private chat and help them.
Provide technical assistance. One way to help participants is to use the chat as a way to provide technical assistance. You can let the monitor help each person that needs help by empowering them to connect directly with the people who send chat complaints. Plus, you can set up a special email for technical problems that goes directly to someone who is “on call” to help people during the presentation.
Ask for feedback in chat. To get the party rolling, ask for feedback from your audience you can post in the chat. Direct them to the chat window and ask them to say where they are from, or to post their most burning questions. Then you can look at that and mention a few of them. Let a helper collect the important questions for later.
Deal with trolls privately. If someone is showing themselves to be a troll on the chat, you can easily just delete and ban them. Don’t make a big deal about it at all. Just quickly and quietly ban them from the webinar.
Use it to prove you’re in a live session. If you close the chat completely, the participants will believe they’re in a recorded session. The best thing to do is use the chat occasionally as a way to show that you’re in a live session.
Post affiliate links. Have a helper post links to the products, services and information that you’re speaking about with your affiliate link as you talk about it. Make it part of your presentation by pointing out that your assistant will post the links in the chat.
By using the chat strategically during a webinar, you’ll improve the experience for your audience, increase your expert status, and make the chat more interesting.