Everyone loathes webinars. 

No really. See?

The word alone sets off eye-watering yawning chains.

Despite the boring reputation, A Content Marketing Institute study found 58% of content marketers said webinars produced the best results for their content marketing in the last 12 months. They are lead machines for services and products. 

What is a webinar?

'Webinar' is an umbrella term for a live, online presentation where attendees watch a presentation, ask questions, and interact with each other in real time. And they are often used for training, marketing, and product demos. 

Webinars get a bad rap

Some webinars are long, tedious, and often overflowing with irrelevant information and sales pitches. And the lack of human interaction can make them difficult to engage with. 

Poorly-planned webinars can jump from topic to topic quickly and without explanation, which makes them hard to follow. 

At times, attending a webinar feels like experiencing the worst aspects of school all over again.

The presenter is the teacher, but instead of writing on a board, they just talk at you through a screen. And just like school, you get to raise your hand and ask questions, except now it's called "unmute yourself."

And the same woes from the classroom apply to webinars:

  • Lack of engagement
  • Technical difficulties
  • Limited interaction
  • Boredom
  • Distractions
  • Lackluster format 
  • Poor time management

The best way to overcome the bias against webinars is to run a webinar that doesn't feel like one. But why go through the time and expense when — according to the stats — the status quo kind of works? 

Better webinars mean better leads

By producing engaging and educational webinars, your odds of convincing people to show up skyrocket. Then, your company will be able to enjoy these benefits:

  • Better lead generation
  • Increased engagement 
  • Cost-effective marketing
  • Greater brand awareness
  • Stronger customer relationships

To reap the benefits, create webinars heavy on value and lighter on sales pitches. 

By increasing engagement, your attendees will enjoy a more personal, interactive experience — one that can lead to a more positive perception of your webinars.

7 reimagined webinar formats to delight your audience

While the 'webinar' label packs a lot of baggage, people are still eager to:

  • Learn
  • Network with like-minded folks
  • Engage with organizations they care about

Instead of letting the 'webinar' label deter your audience, select a fresh format from the start. You will have a clear focus for your objectives, but you will also have a new method for adding valuable content. 

Need ideas? Here are eight reimagined webinars your audience won't want to miss:

1. AMAs and town halls

Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) and town hall meetings are similar to all-hands meetings. But AMAs or town halls provide an opportunity to ask the company's executive team pressing questions.

AMAs help organizations communicate essential information to their entire workforce, promote discussions and feedback, and increase employee morale.

Just because it's serious doesn't mean it has to be boring. For example, break the ice and encourage participation with a gamified AMA where attendees earn points for asking the best questions in the chat or prizes for the most active participants. 

2. Feature releases

What's new with your product? Share it during a feature release where leadership and relevant teams discuss upcoming features and changes to keep everyone on the same page.

During a feature release, teams discuss issues they run into while developing the feature, ensure stakeholders understand the changes, and share the timeline and roadmap.

To be sure folks have a solid understanding, include a virtual product walkthrough using the virtual meeting platform's screen-sharing feature. This allows attendees to see the feature in action and ask questions in real time.

3. Fireside chats and exclusive conversations

Invite an industry leader to share their personal stories and experiences in an informal, intimate setting. The relaxed atmosphere makes it more enjoyable for hosts to share valuable insights and encourages open dialogue with attendees.

Set the tone with relaxed backgrounds like home offices or fireplaces. Then, encourage your host and attendees to dress comfortably and share a bit about themselves in a conversational way. This helps attendees connect with the host and feel more at ease during the chat.

4. Lunch & Learns

People need to eat, right? That's why it's tough to say no to a lunch session (especially if lunch is provided).

In this format, attendees use their lunch break to learn more about a specific topic. Lunch & Learns are intimate gatherings, so focus on one topic and keep it brief. During the session, invite experts to speak and invite everyone's questions.

Expecting people to give up their lunch break "me" time is a big ask. Why not treat them to lunch by sending them a meal voucher before the Lunch & Learn to use for their meal?

5. Onboarding

Onboarding webinars teach the basics of product use and feature walkthroughs in real time. The goal is to quickly get new users up to speed on the product and its features so they can hit the ground running.

Help attendees reinforce what they learned by giving them a hands-on experience complete with quizzes to help them cement their newfound knowledge. Also, consider recording the session and sharing it with them to review later.

6. Product demos

Product demonstration webinars give people the full picture of your project instead of leaving them wondering, "How does this even work?"

Product demos let customers view a thorough product walkthrough and ask questions about how the product works in a live Q+A with a product expert.

As well as helping build trust with potential customers, having a product expert available makes the demo more engaging and personalized. You might also ask real customers or influencers to share their experiences during the demo to add credibility.

7. Workshops

People attend workshops to hone their crafts in a hands-on way under the supervision of an expert. Facilitate group activities and exercises to help them create solutions, strategies, and actionable plans.

Instead of a traditional lecture format, consider group discussions, hands-on exercises, experiential presentations, and case studies. These help attendees dig deep into the material and apply what they've learned.

Webinars should revolve around delighting attendees

To make a webinar a memorable experience, personalize it to attendees as much as possible. Webinars should reduce friction and nurture potential ongoing relationships. In addition to the use cases above, here are more ways to turn your webinars into crowd-pleasers:

  • Send reminders a week before, a day before, and an hour before the webinar.
  • Make webinars easy to join by emailing a link to a frictionless landing page.
  • Use polls, chat, breakout rooms, and other features to make it collaborative.
  • Use visual aids like interactive screen sharing to encourage learning.
  • Boost the mood with extras like energizing music and virtual confetti.

Small touches that show you are committed to serving attendees go a long way toward making attendees feel welcome.

Webinars that are fun change perceptions

While webinars are a reliable way to reach your business goals, webinars are, at times, snoozefests people dread attending. They need not be limited to death-by-slide decks. With a few tweaks, you can reimagine what webinars should look like and make them more memorable for your audience.

By finding the most engaging webinar for your goal and packing it with valuable content, you'll host a webinar worthy of staying awake and taking notice.

Ready to add zest to your webinars? Sign up for Session today and use our interactive platform to host webinars people want to attend.