I'm starting a new feature today... "Ask Ken"
This is your chance to ask me anything you'd like to know about webinar technology, tips, best practices, my business, or whatever else is on your mind.
Post your questions in the Web Conferencing Community Forum. I've started a special folder to hold your questions. You can start a new topic or add to somebody else's. I'll chew through the submissions and post answers here in the blog.
Here's a direct link to the folder for easy access. And don't forget that the WCC Forum is an open exchange for soliciting help and adding your own thoughts and opinions on web conferencing products, vendors, and practices. It's a great chance to share real stories unfettered by sponsorship or editing by a technology vendor.
I'll start off the action with a couple of questions that went unanswered in my last public webinar with Adobe and Training Industry Webinars. We ran out of time with hundreds of people in the audience and many dozens of questions in the queue.
Q: How do you keep talking, read audience questions, and answer them at the same time?
A: During the bulk of my presentation to a large audience, I don't try to read the questions and comments coming in. It is too distracting. But I make sure to throw in some interactive elements and to look over at those times to see what is being entered. And every so often, I'll make a conscious effort to check for questions or comments on a specific piece of my content. Mentioning somebody's comment within the flow of your presentation is a powerful tool in building a connection with the audience and encouraging additional interaction and involvement from them. I try to always work with a moderator who can "triage" the audience questions and call out the ones that are especially relevant, helpful, or asked by multiple people. In a smaller meeting, I pay more attention to the questions as they come in, as there are fewer to deal with and I need to acknowledge the few individuals I know are there.
Q: Do you ever use activities that are not interactive? Such as a self-assessment or "take a moment to choose X"?
A: Sure! Mixing different audience engagement techniques is always a good idea. Self-assessment without requiring a poll vote or type-in can be a good idea if the audience members might not be proud of their conclusions. "Do you ever find yourself unprepared and fumbling for words during a presentation?" They don't know if you are going to mention their name if they type an answer. Or whether you are tracking individual responses in a poll. So this is a good time to tell them to think about it themselves. Then you can move on and make your point. But don't rely on this technique exclusively. The more you can get people typing, clicking, and physically interacting with the console, the more they become participants rather than observers. You create a richer experience and encourage additional feedback and contribution.
Q: What words can we use in email invitations to get more people to attend?
A: "YOU!" Always look for ways to frame the content in terms of your audience's interests rather than your own. Instead of "We are presenting information on our new product", change it to "You have a chance to learn about the benefits of using the new XYZ product." The "you" can be implied, by the way. The subject line of this post is "Ask Ken A Question." That implies your action as the main point, not my introduction of the feature. Sharp-eyed people will notice that I violate this principle in my opening line with "I'm introducing a new feature" -- That is a quick and very short teaser that introduces another power word: "new" (making the message timely and newsworthy). I immediately follow it up with more phrasing and framing in your interests. Your other power words include direct action verbs ("take", "learn", "register") and the always popular "new" and "free". Exclusivity or limited supply also work, so point out that space is limited and there is a limited time to sign up.