Ann Handley and Shelley Ryan of MarketingProfs are back to guide you through the technical steps for ensuring your webinar becomes a smash hit—as much within your own organization as among the intended audience.

(Also see part 1 of this article series: "Webinar Essentials: Five Must-Have Ingredients of Success.")

It all starts with creating a great user experience and initiating the conversation, then following through with prospective clients to make sure the relationship jell. Here's how.

1. Make It Interactive

"No one wants a one-way conversation in this Web 2.0 era... you need to make sure you have a way to keep the audience engaged," advised Ryan. Achieve that engagement with the following steps.

Incorporate chat and user polls

Get attendees involved in the conversation and enable them to voice any questions they may have about the webinar content so that the speaker can offer clarification and additional value at the end of the presentation.

There are three types of chat platform from which to choose:

  1. One-way or private chat enables the audience to post questions that no one other than the speaker can read. In MarketingProfs's experience, this is better than no chat at all, but it can leave audience members feeling as if they are "shouting into a black hole," noted Ryan.
  2. Public chat is more of a "free for all," wherein anyone can post a comment at any time for all to see. According to Ryan, this really changed the dynamic of MarketingProfs's online seminars and earned an 85% approval rating from surveyed attendees. The remaining 15% found it distracting.
  3. Moderated chat, which Ryan considers "the best of both worlds," offers a semi-public forum but cuts down on the congestion by tasking a moderator to determine which questions and comments should be made visible. This is the format currently employed in all MarketingProfs online seminars.

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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via