You're hoping webinars and online presentations are going to be the latest, greatest sales tool for you. You've bought the fancy new webinar software. Carefully planned the timing.  

Spent hours setting it all up. Made slides. Practiced. Even spent a lot of money on high tech advertising and got a bunch of people to register and show up.

But when you're done and look at the sales numbers, you see a big fat zero. Now what?

How do you figure out what went wrong?

Well, one place to start is the very simple question: How many people actually watched it all the way to the end?

No matter how compelling your sales offer is, how great your products and services are or even how many people you got to show up, if they don't stay to the end, you've blown the sale and the opportunity is lost.

So, what does science say about how to grab attention so they listen all the way through to the end ... (even in the age of distraction and multitasking)?

1. Hook 'em with a Story

Science tells us that the typical consumer attention span is now about 8 seconds - 1 second less than a goldfish. The days of starting a presentation with a boring agenda slide are over.  

The first few seconds of your presentation are the most crucial - hook their attention with an emotionally compelling story that explains why they should listen.

2. Create Curiosity Gaps

You know when you're watching the late night news, and just before you're about to go to bed, the announcer comes on and says "Coming up next ... a robot that makes dinner and even does the dishes" .. and even though you can barely keep your eyes open, you end up staying up a little longer just to find out about that damn robot?

That's because they've opened up a 'curiosity gap'.  According to research published in the journal Neuron, when curiosity is piqued, the pleasure centers of the brain light up and people learn better. 

Throughout the presentation, keep hinting that mysterious and curious thing are coming right up. Suggest ideas, but not full solutions, imply the solutions are coming at the end.. keep them guessing! 

3. Make 'em Laugh, Make 'em Cry

Emotions make people buy and they also make them want to stick around and watch your whole presentation. Tell funny stories. Tell sad stories.

Use provocative visuals.  Vary the sound of your voice. Use emotional words (don't say it was "great", say it was "astonishing" "stunning" "unsurpassed").

Master the art of the presentation, make your content unparalleled and use as many emotional tricks you can to  activate imagination, pleasure, and desire. 

4. Get your Audience to "Sing Along"

Ok, so maybe they don't have to actually sing along with you, but any audience participation on a webinar reduces drop-offs. Ask questions, get them to participate in the chat room, conduct quizzes or live surveys.

Research in multimedia is clear - the best content is designed around the way the human brain works - and the human brain loves interaction. 

5. Bribe Them

Yes, I am not above bribing. At the start of the web presentation, tell your audience that you will give them a special attendance gift at the end (to thank them for sticking around).

Activate the brain's desire centers by making the gift exactly what they want.  Make it sound highly useful (like a guidebook or checklist or tip sheet).

Then (extra bonus tip) link it to the end of your sales page so they actually have to go there to get your gift.  Think of your webinar like you are telling an extended, persuasive story.

Make it fun, evocative and creative. Sound seductive, sexy, smart. Design content around how the human brain works....

...and watch the sales come in.