5 Tips For Webinar Attendees

Guest post by Ken Molay, president of Webinar Success and a prolific speaker and blogger in the webinar industry

Rachel Levy (the founder of WebinarListings) asked me if I could suggest tips for webinar participants instead of the more commonly seen guidelines and best practices directed at webinar hosts and presenters. I had to think about that one for a minute. The people putting on the webinar are the ones tasked with making sure it goes well, aren’t they? Doesn’t the audience just need to show up, watch, and listen?

But on further reflection, it occurred to me that there are things audience members can do to help make the experience better for themselves and other audience members. In no particular order, here are some suggestions for you the next time you attend a webinar.

  1. Log in to the web conference early. Set your Outlook appointment reminder to go off five or ten minutes before the scheduled event start time. Log in to the web portion at that time. Some conferencing software requires a download and install on your computer, and you want to give it time to take place. Even “instant-join” software may require you to update Flash or another underlying utility. Some conferencing software gives you better performance when it has time to cache upcoming slides on your computer for rapid access during the meeting. Even if none of these apply to you, logging in early gives you time to enter your identifying information, ask questions that you want to see covered during the session, and be part of the “quorum” that the host sees as sufficient audience size to start their content delivery.
  2. Mute your audio if lines are open. If your webinar host opens the phone or computer audio lines to letred phone audience members speak, keep your phone muted whenever you are not speaking. This helps avoid unwanted  background noises that can distract other participants. And never, NEVER push the “HOLD” button on your phone. That often plays music over the line, which stops a webinar dead in its tracks.
  3. Be an active participant. Provide your inputs to polling questions. Respond to requests for comments or questions. Let your presenter know what you are most interested in. If they stray off topic , help them by writing what you want to hear more about. I am always sad as a host or presenter when I get a post-event comment on a feedback form like “I wish you had talked more about x.”  Don’t wish it… Suggest it during the meeting!
  4. Be respectful. If your webinar allows publicly-visible chat, keep your contributions helpful and considerate of the host and other participants. Arguing about or belittling somebody else’s comment is not productive. Instead, you can say that you have a different perspective or different experience, which extends the conversation rather than shutting it down. It’s also poor etiquette to compete with your host by advertising your products or services as an audience member. The host put time, money, and effort into gathering an interested audience. Don’t steal from them.
  5. Feedback

  6. Provide feedback. It can be very hard for hosts to tell how the experience was from the audience viewpoint. Help them improve their webinars to better match your needs and preferences by letting them know what worked well and what didn’t work for you. Were there audio problems? Difficulty reading slide content? Would you prefer longer or shorter webinars in the future? Are there topics you would like to see them cover? Did you love a particular speaker and want to hear more from them? Telling the host company what they should keep and what they should change is the only way to get more of what you want.

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. In addition to reading the fine content here at WebinarListings, I invite you to look for additional tips, news, and reviews on The Webinar Blog.

What do you think?  Do you have any other advice from your experience watching webinars?

(Photo credits: Phone, Feedback)

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