Audience fatigue and disinterest are a marketer’s worst enemies during a webinar, but there are ways to keep them engaged, argues Shootsta’s Christine Pang.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to the use of virtual solutions, and among them are webinars. These days it’s no longer a surprise to receive anywhere from 10 to 20 webinar invitations every week as marketers consider them a relatively simple and low-cost tool for collecting data and generating leads. The result is a new phenomenon we’re all experiencing: ‘webinar fatigue’ is the phrase that has been coined to describe the overall feeling of disinterest towards the oversaturation of webinar offerings.

We all know what a bad webinar looks like – it is no longer simply passive intake of information. But good webinars leave positive lasting impressions of the initiative as well as the brand. So, what makes a good webinar? There are many ways marketers can engage audiences and encourage interactive, two-way consumer-initiated contributions.

Pre-produced webinars

We have all experienced the frustrations of video-lag or grainy videos due to an unstable internet connection at home or in the office, leading to a bad viewer experience. With everyone staying at home and using the internet, network stability may not be at its optimum.

The solution? Pre-produce your webinars. Pre-produced webinars do so much more than just enhance viewers’ experience. Marketers can re-take as many times as needed to correct out or edit their mistakes and add in special content such as photos and graphic effects to amplify their key messages and make the presentation more interesting. Best of all, pre-produced webinars can be repurposed as many times as needed for future webinars or for participants to view at their own convenience.

Having the right video content facilitates more engaging customer-service initiatives and enables companies to connect on a deeper level with their customers.

For example, global insurance company AXA has invested in video content at scale, as part of their communications strategy. The company has produced content such as taking customers through the journey of using the portal and app, as well as taking them through FAQs – for instance, how to file claims in different video styles and formats.

Best of both worlds: combining live and pre-produced webinars

Audiences are especially inclined to stop listening if the webinar host makes the mistake of ‘preaching’ to them. Remember: your webinar is a dialogue, not a one-way conversation. If you do want to conduct your webinars live, they should include interactive elements such as Q&A sessions, live chat, polls and surveys to encourage your audience to stay engaged throughout the webinars.

For Shootsta, we utilised both live-streaming and pre-produced content when we launched The Shootsta Show earlier this year. The premise was a TV-like show covering a series of topics from making your own professional video, to learning from thought leaders on the future of working. In each episode, we start off the show live, with pre-produced content mixed in, ending with a live Q&A session.

It also helps to include pre-produced content in your live webinar, as they serve as a form of edutainment, and audiences will be able to grasp more through videos and visuals than just a host presenting a set of slides. It’s like watching a YouTube show, but for professionals and with real-time interaction.

However, keep in mind that many people who register for webinars have the intention to watch them on-demand at their own convenience. This means businesses should be prepared to deliver as much value in the recording as they would with any other resources. This gives businesses a higher chance to potentially have their registrants turning into a potential qualified lead.

Putting best practices to work

Planning a webinar is no different from planning a physical event when it comes to planning, marketing, event design and execution. And as one would expect at a live event, the key to a successful webinar is audience engagement.

With the death of classroom practices, viewing all the speakers in a tile format for an hour can be a drag. If anything, remember these three takeaways when conducting a webinar:

  1. Leverage on your strategic partners to broaden your audience beyond your database.
  2. Don’t bore your viewers with a presentation that lasts for an hour. Instead, be creative and utilise video tools to communicate your key messages into a one-minute video. After all, we are known to have short attention spans – even more so when in a home environment.
  3. Engagement is key. Always try to fit in a short, casual conversation with your participants during your live webinars. This allows you to learn more about your participants – who could potentially be your clients – and encourages engagement during the virtual event.

Marketers are starting to see the benefits of webinars – which means virtual events are likely going to be around for a while, even after the pandemic. So, if you are planning to leverage webinars, do them well.