Do you know how to engage your clients?

Client engagement is one of the most important elements of a successful practice, says Tom Drews, founder of San Francisco-based What Works! Communications.

“You may have the greatest product or service in the world,” says Drews, who frequently leads webinars on digital engagement, “but it means next to nothing if you can’t effectively communicate its value based on your audience’s most important needs.”

The ability to develop and employ engaging content, Drews says, can make the difference between a successful presentation and one that falls flat. Engagement is particularly challenging when you consider the amount of information clients are exposed to through social media and other channels.

Drews offers the following tips to help you boost your client engagement:

1. Use web-conferencing tools
Virtual presentations can help grow your business by reaching a wider audience —wirelessly.

Familiarize yourself with the toolkits available in many of today’s web-conferencing platforms. They include: a webcam for visual punch and to make face-to-face contact with your audience; a chat room for audience members to add comments; a “raise your hand” feature for participants to pose questions; a polling feature to gauge the audience’s opinion; and a digital highlighter to draw your audience’s eyes to important points.

“These tools,” Drews says, “can go a long way toward boosting your engagement levels.”

2. Make it visual
Using visuals — whether photos, graphics or multimedia content — will help keep your audience engaged.

Says Drews: “Don’t shy away from employing a little bit of Hollywood.”

A little colour, flash and humour will help illustrate your points more clearly and make the subject matter more entertaining for your audience.

3. Keep it simple
One of the biggest obstacles to achieving client engagement is overloading your audience with content.

Too many presentations, letters and online posts, Drews says, lose their audience because they contain far too much information, leaving audience members not knowing what they should be looking at.

For example, you shouldn’t, as a rule, have more information on a presentation slide than can be read in four or five seconds. If there is more than that, you need to cut.

4. Make it about them, not you
Always focus on the needs of your audience rather than what you think should be important to them. This means you have to know your audience’s concerns and how you can offer solutions to their problems.

One way to ensure you’re addressing your clients’ needs is to structure your content or presentation in a way offers time for discussion. Be sure to ask open-ended questions and give clear, honest answers.

The key is to facilitate effective two-way communication.