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Let’s Play: Gamification in Webinars

November 21st, 2017 Mark Bornstein

One of my biggest pet peeves is when webinars are unnecessarily boring. So many people still have this idea of a webinar as a talking PowerPoint, delivered in a droll monotone by a presenter who would clearly rather be doing anything else. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?* The presenter is not going to have any fun, so the audience better not either. To this, I say, HELL NO! Life is too short to deliver OR sit through a boring webinar.

There are so many ways to put a little pep in your webinars, and I have covered many of them in previous blog posts and presentations, but there is one idea that we haven’t talked about and that is gamification. Now, some of you are thinking that “gamifying” your webinars will distract from your incredibly important content, but the exact opposite is true. The more your audience is engaged, the more they will pay attention to what you are trying to say.

So how is this done? Are we integrating a Pac-Man widget into webinar consoles now? Creative idea for a presentation, but no. However, all the interactive tools that we do have make for great opportunities to have some fun with your audience. Let me give you some examples of how I have done this in the past, starting with polling.

Most people use polls to take the pulse of viewers periodically throughout the webinar and that’s great. I love polls. But you can also use polls to turn less exciting reports or data into something more compelling.

The Guessing Game

Every year, ON24 releases our Webinar Benchmarks Report, which is loaded with tons of data on webinar usage. Some of it is really interesting and some of it is more…er…functional than interesting. I always deliver the results of the report in a big webinar (of course), and in the past, I have simply just relayed each of the benchmarks, slide by slide, nothing fancy. But one year, I decided to change it up by gamifying the entire webinar.

For each benchmark, I first pushed out a poll enabling the audience to guess the result. I would then push out their guesses and finally the actual benchmarks — often having a shared laugh at the accuracy, or disparity, of the guesses to the real result. The audience really enjoyed this and we had a ton of fun with the webinar. It also forced viewers to really think about the results, which I am sure enabled them to get more out of the benchmarks, and the webinar.

Webinar Trivia

Another fun way to add gamification to your webinars is by using the Q&A feature to do trivia with your audience. This can be done purely for fun or you can ask trivia questions that relate to your subject matter. It also enables you to give away prizes that people love and helps with branding.

Mix and Match

In a recent webinar, I asked the audience a Game of Thrones-themed question (“If Jon Snow was the lead singer in a current rock band, which band would it be?”), and holy cow, the webinar exploded with engagement. We literally had hundreds of people send it a submission within five minutes of my announcing the question. Behind the scenes, I had co-workers select the best of the answers and then I picked a winner at the end of the webinar (you really want to know don’t you? The winner was “Imagine Dragons”). People really loved this and were tweeting about it for hours after. We sent out a t-shirt to the proud winner, and many of the viewers from that webinar have attended future webinars to have another crack at the trivia.

Subdued Gamification

Now, there are some of you who are delivering webinars on very serious topics and may be worried that you need to maintain a certain “tone” that gamification would breach. Sure, sometimes. But gamification doesn’t have to be silly. You can simply ask your audience to be more involved in your webinar by challenging them to guess, suggest, or create feedback based on your content. You can use polls, Q&A, social media, group collaboration tools or come up with your own creative ways to get your audience to participate in your discussion — instead of passively watching it.

Webinars are magic for marketers because they offer a rare opportunity to truly engage your audience. A little gamification would certainly add more engagement and a whole lot of fun.

* If you don’t get this reference, you need to watch Ferrris Bueller’s Day Off immediately. Play hooky from work and do it.