3 Storytelling Tips for Keeping Webinar Audiences Engaged


Digital technology is wonderful, right? The digital world can be at your fingertips. Yes, but that digital world, in the form of a mobile phone or laptop, can be a tempting distraction to tune out a speaker during a meeting, a conference and especially a webinar.

Ah, yes, the webinar, born of the digital age but hurt by it in the sense that with a speaker not making eye contact with you the tendency to look at email or engage in other forms of mind-wandering behavior is great. Hey, some of us even will admit to literally wandering while we were supposed to be at our desks listening attentively to a webinar.

With all that in mind, Scott Hunsberger, a senior writer at Marcus Thomas LLC, and a contributor to PR News The Writer’s Guidebook, suggests webinar presenters use storytelling techniques to keep attendees engaged.

Hunsberger writes, “One way to capture and maintain your webinar audience’s attention is through storytelling. Stories provide real-life context for your messages. Told well, they can elicit emotional responses. They leave a lasting impression and inspire action.”

He continues, “Storytelling in your webinar may take the form of one or more distinct vignettes that support key points. Or you may choose to share a longer, cohesive story that ties your entire presentation together. No matter the form, here are approaches to consider:

Open with a story: Rather than the traditional speaker bio and agenda slides open your webinar with a brief, impactful story that reigns in the audience. Try starting your story in medias res, opening in the midst of the action to add suspense. Then, you can get to your agenda and other items before returning to the story to fill in the missing parts.

Create drama: We’re naturally attuned to the familiar rise and fall of a story—characters facing challenges amidst rising action before a climactic conclusion. Use this type of tension to build drama in your presentation and draw your audience in.

Use foreshadowing: Foreshadowing whets your audience’s appetite and holds its attention. At different points during your webinar, allude to what’s coming up. Even give a little bit away before you talk about it in detail later. Your audience will be left waiting to hear the rest of the story. Attendees may even pay closer attention to make sure they don’t miss the thrilling conclusion.

Learn more about all of PR News’ series of guidebooks for communicators.

Follow Seth Arenstein: @skarenstein