engage audience in an online world

Tips To Engage Your Audience In An Online World By Peter Dhu

Are your online meetings and events engaging?

The RAIN Group, a sales and marketing training group recently conducted a survey on the top challenge for sellers in the new virtual and online world. The number one challenge that sellers report facing, is gaining buyers’ attention, and keeping buyers engaged virtually. It is much easier to lose buyer attention in a virtual setting and much harder to get it back.

And before you say that you are not a salesperson, every time you speak at a meeting, conference, seminar, or training event, you are selling ideas, knowledge, new ways of doing things. Public speaking is selling the spoken word. 

What are you doing to engage your audience in your virtual meetings and your online events and training? Here are 5 tips that are simple etiquette and will make you more engaging and connected with your audience and other people in the virtual room.

1. Join early and stay longer

Always log on 5 to 10 minutes early. This allows you to test the platform, audio, and any slides, you may have as well as to meet and greet everyone. This also allows the meeting to start on time. If you are the host or the presenter, you may want to log on even earlier. As the host or trainer always stay on a little longer and allow people to ask you questions. Finish on time, but anyone who wishes to stay behind and chat or ask questions, be available.

2. Make it interactive and invite participation

As an attendee it is great if you can participate. As a presenter the participation is welcome as it shows that people are listening and engaged. It is hard presenting virtually and if you get no feedback or interaction at all, that can make it even harder. As a participant you can participate by:

  • Ask questions along the way. Just type in the chat box or the question box and the presenter can get to that question when they wish.
  • Comment on the topic or issues and put forward your own experiences and examples. The presenter can acknowledge these comments and weave them into the content.
  • Let the speaker know you are there by comments, questions, suggestions and by saying thanks, or great, or that is interesting.
  • Use the available icons like thumbs up, clapping or hand up if you want to comment.
  • Launch a poll or survey to get an idea of opinions or trends within the room
  • Stop sharing your slides and talk to people individually
  • Use breakout rooms to do some group work and roll plays. As the host or presenter, visit the breakout rooms and check-in on people.

3. Dress Appropriately

My simple rule is to dress as if you were presenting or attending in person. Your dress is related to your personal branding. If you underdress, it may be seen as being a low-key event, or your level of attention to detail has dropped. Your dress code can vary with audiences. If I am presenting to accountants, I will normally wear a tie and a coat. If I am presenting online to the mining sector, I will wear a high visibility shirt. You can lose credibility and engagement if you turn up to a meeting under dressed.

4. Remove Distractions

Distractions can really break engagement and connection with your audience. Don’t answer phone calls and have any alerts, chimes notifications turned off. Don’t read emails or read other reports during the meeting or training.  Remove anything that may distract you or draw your attention away from the meeting. In the online world, we have all seen cats, dogs and children enter and interrupt speakers. Have a “do not disturb” sign on your door or similar when you commence an online event.

5. Should I be eating and drinking on an online meeting.

Generally, having a drink of water or cup of tea in a meeting or training session would be normal and accepted. The same applies to online meetings. As a presenter, always have water at hand to help keep hydrated and to lubricate your vocal cords. However, avoid drinking wine or other alcohol on a meeting, even if it is after hours. It again comes down to your personal branding and personal image. Eating food can be more problematic and can be distracting and noisy. The simple rule is that if you need to eat, then perhaps stop your camera and microphone, during the eating. The noise of eating and the sight of someone eating can be distracting.

To be more engaging and have better rapport which of these tips will you use. What behaviour will you try and avoid to ensure you maintain engagement?

If improving your online meetings and training is important to you, I am running a 1-hour online training seminar called PUBLIC SPEAKING ETIQUETTE FOR ONLINE PLATFORMS 30 July 9.00 am to 9.45 am WAST, 11.00 am to 11.45 Noon EST.

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