If you can get and keep your participants’ attention, web conferencing can save you a lot of money on travel and related expenses. But that’s easier said than done. Many people still prefer to meet in person whenever possible – even if it costs them a lot more to do it.
So how do you keep the online meeting lively and your participants engaged?
Momentum and flow are the most important aspects of holding an online meeting. To create momentum, you need to start with a short description of the purpose of the meeting and then ask a question that captures the imagination of your participants and makes them want to respond.
“Why is WordPress the best platform for a membership site?”
Asking how many people read the material might be necessary at times, but you’ll be a lot better off if you can stimulate their curiosity and challenge them instead of putting them on the spot. This is true when dealing with peers and even when you’re the boss.
Engage Your Audience
Try to find something unusual about the topic and turn it into a question that your audience would be interested in knowing. Even seemingly boring topics have an interesting side. You just need to do a little research.
If the topic is fairly straightforward and doesn’t lend itself to excitement, you can throw out a topic of interest to the group. The more relevant to the topic the better, but in a jam, even a question like, “What was the name of Brad Pitts first movie?” or “What was the first song by U2 to hit the top ten?” will keep your audience attentive.
Once you’ve gotten the online meeting started, you need to maintain momentum. Since you’ve started by asking an interesting question and inviting the audience to answer, you can keep the flow of the meeting going by creating suspense.
Ask a question and tell your audience that you’ll give the answer at the end of the meeting. Sound cheesy? Maybe, but news shows use it all the time – and even if it annoys you, you stay till the end if you’re interested in the topic. The trick is to find something that most people will be curious to know.
Even an otherwise boring training on a new version of software for time recording can be made interesting by finding out 3-5 things about the developer or CEO of the company that wrote it.
A small prize, like a hat with the company logo, could be given out as a reward to the person that answers the most questions correctly. You could also offer a gift to a randomly selected participant. It doesn’t have to be expensive. People love to win something for free. Don’t you?
Of course you need good web conferencing software to serve as a foundation so that you don’t have to worry about your participants having trouble attending your meeting. In my experience, the best web conferencing service available is GoToMeeting by Citrix. You can read my full review of GoToMeeting vs Webex here.