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How to engage your audience using chat on your virtual presentations

Over the years, I’ve been behind the scenes on hundreds (maybe even a thousand at this point) presentations during a virtual event. What I have seen is that the best speakers engage with their audience by talking WITH them, not AT them. What do I mean by this? Well, no matter the platform, or if the attendees are muted or not, if there is 5 attendees or 1,000, there is an art to talking with your audience.

It's not enough to just use Polls and Surveys (which is a great way to get feedback), but also engaging using the chat feature, and most all platforms have a version of chat. The chat allows attendees to not only chat with the speakers, but chat with each other and build camaraderie amongst themselves. There is however, a way to best utilize this tool and get the most out of your interaction. Pausing throughout and acknowledging chat messages, and questions will make your audience feel heard.

Below are some tips that I have seen work wonders on how to engage with your audience via the chat:

Roll Out the Virtual Red Carpet:

Kick off your webinar with a chat shout-out! Encourage participants to enter the digital stage by introducing themselves and sharing their virtual whereabouts.

Chat Maestro in Action:

Appoint a chat maestro to be in charge of the chat if needed. They can sift through questions, address concerns, and give you the cue for when to drop the mic with your responses.

Open Mic, Open Chat:

Spice up the conversation by tossing open-ended questions into the chat cauldron. Dive into the discussion, acknowledging participants like rock stars and keeping the vibe upbeat.

Q&A Jam Session:

Prompt attendees to fire up their questions in the chat, and you'll respond with the verbal riffs during the session.

Cheers for Your Peers:

Raise a virtual glass to participants who shine in the chat spotlight. Give a shout-out, and thank them for their wisdom.

Links and Resources:

Unleash a treasure trove of relevant links and resources in the chat. Participants, consider this your backstage pass to additional insights and knowledge nuggets.

Networking Party:

Transform your chat into a networking hub! Encourage participants to mingle, make digital connections, and maybe even virtually clink glasses in celebration.

Master of Moderation:

Be the maestro of moderation, guiding the chat ship through the seas of discussion. Bring wandering conversations back on course and swiftly address any chat intruders. Jessica Bradford V2 | Program Manager


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