Information overload is definitely something we can all identify with at the moment.  The daily updates on all things virus related, insights from industry groups, offers from our favourite retailers, images from destinations who don’t want to be forgotten and advice from well meaning relatives – I know my head feels like it is in a constant spin.  

audience engagement

Add to this the vast number of webinars we now have access to, and the fact that online presentations are going to be a permanent part of our foreseeable future, I have taken a moment and think about what is ‘engaging’ me right now – and why?

As an audience member of a variety of online presentations over the past few weeks, I would have to say my stats are as follows: 

20% kept me engaged for the duration 

30% kept my attention on and off for the duration (I checked my phone a couple times but was drawn back in) 

40% I didn’t make it to the end before I had ‘left the meeting’ 

10% I switched off within minutes 

audience engagement

However it wasn’t just one common thing that made me stay tuned in, it was a combination of things.  And as I analyse it, I think the fundamental principles of audience engagement apply now more than ever.  

  1. Know your audience – make sure your content is targeted and relevant.  Now here’s the thing – with webinars, audiences can broaden, however I do not think it should follow that the content becomes more broad.  Those webinars that were targeted at me kept me engaged – those that weren’t didn’t.  Simple!  
  2. Talk to your audience – use a platform that allows you to interact with those who are listening.  Get their feedback, answer their questions.  Remember webinars are competing with social media platforms such as Instagram Live where people can engage directly with the speakers – so it is really important that you have a two way conversation
  3. Involve the audience – some of the better sessions I have attended were facilitated conversations rather than a traditional presentation.  I loved these the most!  Hearing other people’s opinions and experiences gave the topic a real 3-dimensional perspective.  
  4. Challenge your audience – finally people respond to ‘call-to-actions’.  I was engaged when I was polled for my opinion, or asked to comment; but even more so when I was given one or more things to action as a result of the session and then a mechanism for the speaker to follow up I was not only engaged, I was motivated to tune in again! 

audience engagement

Of course there are also some basic principles that need to be applied to online presentations such as 

  • Make sure the audience can see the speaker
  • Don’t overload them with PPT slides / text 
  • The speaker should use a good microphone to ensure we can hear you 
  • Sit somewhere with good lighting and no background noise 
  • Make sure the camera is at eye level 

In summary, if you are planning to host an online presentation or session for your members, staff or target audience – don’t let the rules of engagement change because we are now using technology to connect with them.