A webinar chat is a communication tool, enabling interaction between both the webinar attendees and hosts.
What is a webinar chat?
A webinar chat is a communication tool, enabling interaction between both the webinar attendees and the hosts of a webinar. The chat is usually located to the right in the webinar session.
A live webinar chat in action
The webinar chat - should it be turned on or off?
Depending on the webinar platform and settings for the specific webinar, you can choose if the attendees can write in the chat, if their names are shown and how the chat is viewed for others. Typically, the chat is open for everyone and transparent.
The chat function can be turned off when it is necessary, that could be for larger events to avoid an overly busy chat that is hard to moderate – or if you want things to stay very structured you could consider only using the Q&A. Also, if you think you will get a lot of though questions, that you rather answer afterwards or at your own pace - you can decide to simply turn the chat off.
If the chat is disabled, a good idea is to still collect questions in a different feature, that can be set to only show for the hosts. And remember - the chat is a huge enabler for interaction - so disabling it means engagement will likely take a hit.
What are the benefits of using webinar chats?
Attendees stay engaged: The interactive chat function is a way to give viewers a reason to stay throughout the whole webinar, as they feel interesting things can pop up - and it will!
Viewers can influence the presentation: A reason for the attendees to continue watching the webinar is knowing that their specific questions could be answered in the chat. This way, the viewer can have an impact on the focus of the webinar.
Genuine conversations between hosts and attendees: The chat allows for unprepared interaction and therefore is a perfect opportunity for the host to build relationships with the viewers.
Attendee-to-attendee value creation: Allowing attendees to talk to each other can create unexpected value and insights that otherwise never had surfaced. This could give input on needs, problems, interests, future content, webinar topics and even new strategies.
Gives a feeling of transparency: An open chat creates a feeling amongst attendees that the host is open and transparent - and does not hide behind closed doors, afraid of what will come up.
Gives room for spontaneity: The chat sets a spontaneous tone in the webinar - and that’s where magic can happen.
Some webinar chat messages
Tips on how to make the chat active
Tip #1: The hosts should highlight the chat function throughout the webinar by mentioning it and encourage the attendees to engage. A good way of doing that is by using open-ended questions that can start discussions.
Tip #2: Another tip is to have a dedicated team member acting as a moderator for the chat function during the webinar. The moderator is then able to give the chat full attention and write genuine and well thought out answers. The presenter also has an important role in naturally addressing questions and thoughts in the chat during the live presentation.