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Webcasts: love 'em or hate 'em? The answer likely hinges on your title. For employees, online broadcasts of a live event have the unfortunate reputation of being a bore. But for HR experts working to improve their company's learning and development programs, they're convenient, affordable and offer multiple ways for participants to interact with your content when it fits their schedules. In short, they make a lot of sense.

So, how can HR pros rise above the mediocre webcast reputation and deliver a meaningful presentation? Read on for five ways to ensure your next webcast is both memorable and engaging.

1. Master the Technology

There is no better way to lose your online audience's attention than a technical difficulty in the middle of your session. There are a variety of webcast tools, so make sure you fully understand the platform you choose before hosting a meeting.

To practice, use two computers, logging into one as host and the other as a participant. There's always a bit of lag time, so it's important to view and experience the webcast both ways. At the beginning of your meeting, review how to use the webcast tool and set ground rules with participants, anticipating their questions—When can we ask questions? Will there be a break? Should we take notes on everything, or can we re-watch the session later?

2. Use Your Voice as an Engagement Tool

Your voice is a dominant element in a webcast, and conveying emotion will help hold your participants' attention. Since you aren't directly interacting with your viewers, making sure you engage them with your voice is key. Vary the pitch, rhythm and volume of your voice to avoid sounding monotone. You should also slow your pace for emphasis and quicken your pace to express excitement.

Make sure to pause to grab your learners' attention and allow them to absorb a complex idea. Last but not least, lower and raise volume to build to an important point, and be sure to end questions on a high pitch and affirmative statements on a low pitch.

3. Be Mindful of Your Content

In a webcast, your content is the main visual component. Avoid the common mistake of putting too much text on your slides; if you need to share additional information, create a separate handout for participants. Keep your slides simple, emphasizing one point per slide, and don't hesitate to use color to draw attention to main points.

4. Choose the Right Images

Since you are likely presenting to multiple kinds of learners—auditory, visual, kinesthetic—it's important to complement your voice and written content with visuals. Use graphs, images and charts to help participants understand and remember key points. When using images, stay away from clip art—those tend to be dull, redundant images—and use stock photos instead. Alternatively, ask your marketing department for images or use your phone to take pictures.

5. Increase Participation With Activities

Disengagement can happen at any point, so it's important to include activities to keep participants involved—especially for the kinesthetic learners who learn by doing. "Gamification" is a great way to keep people engaged and ensure content remains memorable. Create simple games using PowerPoint, and utilize webcasting tools such as pointers, hand raising, chats, polls or breakout sessions.

As you prepare for your webcast, be sure to keep your audience in mind; your methods of engagement will likely change depending on if you are conducting training for clients or for an internal audience. Remember to inform participants that they will be asked to contribute, and then utilize your technology, voice, content, imagery and activities to create an interactive, engaging session.

Photo: Shutterstock