Why would clients be uncomfortable on Zoom?
They're your clients after all. Yet, time and time again we notice a reluctance on the part of the client.
- They turn off their video, and it's possible they don't have a photo either.
- They don't ask questions, despite you trying your best to get them to pitch in.
Zoom calls can often seem thankless, but there's a way to get clients extremely comfortable on Zoom.
Let's find out how.
I once attended a Zoom call with bestselling author, Dan Brown.
Even if you don't necessarily know of Dan Brown (I didn't) you probably know his books, which include “The Da Vinci Code”. On this call were hundreds of others who were keen to learn how Dan writes his compelling stories.
However, I didn't ask a question, or even get on chat during the call. I listened for a while and then dropped off. I'm not sure the experience was too great for me either, and if I were to do it again, I might never go on a call of that nature again.
Was I intimidated? I can't say I was. However, I was not comfortable either. A lot of what you do and how you do it makes a huge difference on a Zoom call. It's not just a matter of rocking up and delivering a presentation.
Clients, despite the overkill of endless Zoom calls, have made the effort to show up to your call. What can you do to make things non-intimidating for the client? And how can you get the clients to come back, without hesitation, when you have your next Zoom call?
In this article, we'll cover three elements.
1: Instructions before the call.
2: Chat during the call.
3: How to get participants to ask questions.
1) Instructions before the call
When we have live workshops, I have at least a dozen slides that have nothing to with the topic we're covering. Embedded in one of those early slides is one slide that says “Safe Zone”.
When that slide pops up on the screen, I will explain how the workshop is a safe zone; how clients can ask questions; when they can ask questions, etc.
As we do with all workshops, we go out for multiple coffee breaks, lunch and even dinner. It was when I was sharing a beer with someone that he told me about the “Safe Zone” slide. “To me, that was the most important slide of the workshop,” he said to me.
“When I saw that slide, I relaxed and felt that you were on my side. That slide made me believe that I had made the right decision by showing up for this event.”
As presenters, we are so obsessed with content and delivery that we forget about the “intimidation factor”.
Even when a workshop has just 16 people in the room, it's still a bit scary. The client is in an unfamiliar place, has no idea how things will roll out, and by and large all the rest of the people in the room are strangers.
It seems implausible that a single slide can do so much, but that's precisely why you should not ignore these tiny, but incredibly important factors whether in a room, or on a webinar.
Hence, you have to start creating the safe zone long before they get online
The good news is that Renuka is an introvert. Everything that I'd happily do as an extrovert, is quite the opposite for her personality. She doesn't exactly relish the fact that she has to show up on video, likes to think a lot before asking or answering a question.
And yes, she's more likely to lurk and let others do the asking. Which is why she also becomes the best person to write an e-mail for others who feel the same way.
An e-mail that creates a “Safe Zone”.
In the e-mail, there are details about the event, but what gets clients to show up with a little more confidence, are these three lines.
You can attend and not say a word.
You can attend and not show your face.
You can attend and just smile (that's me most of the time).
Just three lines can reduce the intimidation factor by quite a bit. What's important is it underlines the safe zone, long before the client shows up. When we go live, it's not surprising to see that while several people do switch on their video, there are a good number who have just a photo, or no image at all.
Does that mean they don't participate? Oh, they do, but for that we have to use the power of the chat. How do you use chat and what could this possibly mean for you?
2: Chat during the call.
I wish we could call our Zoom “chat idea” a strategy, but it was more a result of chaos.
Back in 2002, we first started doing group calls. At first it was just teleconferencing. If you wanted to mute or unmute someone, you merely had buttons to press on the phone. As we moved to Zoom, however, there was a level of complexity that we hadn't foreseen.
At times, a group of people would unmute themselves and then suddenly start a conversation. Or at other times, clients would ask questions on chat, but I'd be so wrapped up with my presentation, that it would be impossible to look at the questions.
Even if there was a situation where clients couldn't hear the audio or see video, I'd have no clue that anything was going wrong.
However, because I'd always dealt with the issues easily on teleconference calls, I assumed I'd figure out something on Zoom calls as well. I obviously, was quite off the mark.
Which is why Renuka stepped in, to create some order into this chaos. And in doing so, we discovered the amazing power of chat.
Having someone else on chat is important
It's also important right at the start to point out that the person shouldn't be a stranger. If your clients feel uncomfortable, it's because they're already among others they don't know.
Hence, if you go through the trouble of having a second person on the chat, you will need to make a slightly bigger effort. You'd have to let the audience know about that person in advance, and also re-introduce the person on chat when you first start the call.
What happens on the chat is extremely crucial
At first there's the obvious use of chat. Since clients have turned up to the call, there's a pretty high likelihood that they want to engage at some level. Let's say you're covering a topic like story telling. As you go through the presentation, ideas or questions may pop up in their brains. They could use chat if they preferred, to ask questions.
Yet, many clients don't use the chat function at all
Even when they have a question, they simply watch the proceedings. However, it's at this point, that Renuka jumps in. Remember she's not a stranger and many, if not most, have gotten an e-mail from her.
She will say hi, to different people on the call, and start a side conversation. The chat system allows for a group-wide conversation but also for personal chats. The “hi, how are you?” is a great icebreaker, and it's easier to ask the client via chat, if they would like to ask a question.
When Renuka chats back and forth, we find that several clients participate, when they would have not asked anything before.
Having a second person on chat takes the pressure off the presenter
If you're simply asking and answering questions, it might be easier to monitor incoming chat. If you're making a full on presentation, any sort of chat is clearly distracting.
At times, people can be chatting so much (yes, it happens) that you've can't keep up with the thread, let alone find the questions in all of that chatter.
Renuka makes sure the questions are separated, so that I can answer them
However, she also lets the participants know that I'm getting to their question. She may say, “there is one question before yours, and Sean will get to it shortly”. This gives the participants a great deal of comfort. There's always the fear that the question may be too weird, or a “silly question”.
It's hard enough to ask a question, but we are all afraid that our question isn't that great after all. Letting the participant know that their question will be answered, and letting them know the order is a great way to relax your audience. Plus, it lets them know they're in good hands.
Chat can also be used for other purposes.
Take for instance, The Brain Audit webinar series that was conducted a few months ago. In order to increase interactivity, I'd created a few assignments that were done live on the webinar. However, no one was called upon to answer the questions on video, or even audio.
All the answers were in chat. This increases the level of safety. You can easily see what others are saying and even if you're slower off the mark, the intimidation is a lot less.
When we think of Zoom, we think of the “big screen”
The reality is that you're not some big shot showing up to adoring fans. You're usually there to teach, to help and to get people comfortable so that they can be helped. For a long time, we didn't use or understand the power of chat. And how it was crucial to have a “non-stranger” to communicate with the participants.
As time passes on the webinar, clients do relax. That's when you can ask questions directly. How do you decide whom to direct the questions to, if no one raises their hands. Let's find out.
3) How to get participants to ask questions.
Have you heard of the phrase: you don't know what you don't know?
It's more than likely that if someone asked you to talk about genes, for example, you'd be hopelessly lost. You have a vague idea of what a gene happens to be, but beyond that you don't fancy your chances.
Which is precisely why clients are on the call in the first place. They attend a zoom call to learn, and if they're expected to ask questions out of the blue, they struggle a lot.
Hence, webinars come in two districts forms:
1- The webinar with a presentation of some kind—and hence has a theme. e.g. article writing.
2- A webinar with no presentation and where the client can ask “any question”
1- Ideally a webinar should be a seminar.
Which means that the clients should be given something they can watch and learn from. However, information given on the spot can often be very difficult to consume. New phrases, new terms, or even a new way of understanding a concept can take time.
Hence, ideally, a small portion of the information should be sent in advance. This avoids the overwhelm factor because participants can read smaller amounts and get prepared. Then, on the webinar itself, the same concepts should be covered, but ideally with different examples and applications.
If you merely parrot the same information as you sent to the clients, then you're a parrot. To avoid this “squawky-fate”, giving different examples and going a little in depth with the subject matter, lets the client think of questions in advance, as well as issues that may come up on the spot.
For instance, when we used to do The Brain Audit workshop, we'd send clients a tiny PDF document.
The document wouldn't cover the entire subject matter. It would span just a single chapter, and even within that chapter, we'd get clients to read specific pages.
As it turned out, some clients read the entire contents of the notes, while even the last-minute experts got to those specific pages. When they entered the room, it wasn't new information.
You'd think that giving information in advance might be a disadvantage
Why would people show up if they get so much in advance? The reality is exactly the opposite. Most clients are unable to cope with the stream of information. Your webinar is just another pile of data on top of all the stuff they've read, watched or listened to, this far.
Hence, our job is to make sure they get comfortable with the information, and tweak the examples and applications, instead. That's when you start to get a lot more questions, and definitely more details in the questions.
2- A webinar with no presentation and where the client can ask “any question”
However, there's another type of Zoom call which doesn't have any agenda.
On this kind of call, all you're doing is taking questions from the participants. When such a situation occurs, it's unlikely that there will be two sets of participants. One set will be brand new, and the other may be those who know you a bit.
Getting to the ones who've been in touch with you before, sets the tone for the others. They look at how you consider the question, how much detail you go into when answering, and they get encouraged to ask questions too.
The chat system also works very well with getting people to ask questions
Hence, it's possible to get questions in advance from participants and answer them. When the client's question is answered, you can ask them if you've answered their question. Or if they have a follow up question.
It's still a bit scary to be called upon, but if you've spent enough time on the call, they relax a bit. Hence, there's a bit of juggling to do, trying to get both new as well as existing clients.
You also have to manage the chat and questions sent in advance. If you use this method, you'll find that there's quite a fair bit of interactivity on the call.
There's also one more thing that's important to get that level of interactivity
When you meet a person for the first time, there's a factor of risk. We don't know the person. Hence, the way many interviewers go about getting responses from strangers is to share their story quite quickly.
The story is usually one where the interviewer has made a mistake and things have gone wrong. This sharing of the story, slightly levels the playing field. The other person gets relaxed, and they too either share a story or are prompted to ask questions.
No matter how you look at it, a Zoom call is almost as intimidating as a job interview.
Everything is near and fraught with unknown danger. There are many ways to get the audience relaxed, but if you do just these three things, you will find they are more likely to participate. What's more, you'll see that they return when you announce calls in the future as well.
1) Send Instructions before the call that let them know they can turn off the video or audio.
2) Chat is a wonderful system to get to clients. If you can, get another person to monitor the chat and make the audience feel at home. Chat should be the first choice when it comes to any online assignment. It's much too intimidating to simply speak out the answer.
3) Having a call where the information revolves around a topic, is probably the best. That kind of webinar has clear structure and allows you to send some notes (just a few pages at best) in advance.
When the client shows up, they aren't in shock trying to figure out new concepts. However, sometimes the call needs to be like a consulting clinic, where the client brings up random questions.
In this situation it's much harder to call on a client. Hence, starting with someone who's familiar with you, is probably a good way to go.
You can also use the chat to get questions and then get the person to confirm whether you've answered their question correctly. Or you can even ask them for a follow up question.
Clients want to know you, learn from you and interact with you. Like anything in life, there's a slipshod, quick way to go about things. And there's the path that requires a lot more work.
You know which one of the two produces better results, right?