Hosting webinars has always been something of a tricky business, especially for people somewhat unused to doing so. There are many things to remember, many pointers to follow, and many issues that can arise and must be solved.

One of these issues, and easily the most important one, is the question of viewership, and how to get more people to watch your webinars. In this day and age where webinars can be seen left and right in any video streaming site, how do you get people to watch your webinar and not the next guy’s?

The answer lies in closed captioning.

Closed captions are a transcription of spoken dialogue that usually appears at the bottom of a video which includes non-dialogue information such as sound effects, background noise, speaker identification, music, and the like. These are synchronized with the video so the viewer can read the text at the same time the action itself is happening on the video. This is often confused with subtitles which is also a transcription of spoken dialogue. Although unlike closed captions, it doesn’t include non-dialogue information and acts more as a translation. Nevertheless, both closed captions and subtitles can make a huge difference to your videos.

So, how exactly do closed captions help improve your webinar viewership? How do they let you capture audiences from other webinars?

They do so in four different ways:

  1. By improving SEO indexing and searching.

The thing about search engines such as Google or Yahoo! is that they have algorithms which determine what top search results appear when you type in specific keywords. These algorithms essentially determine who sees your webinars, where, and how they see them. Therefore, taking advantage of these algorithms is extremely important if your goal is to broaden your webinars’ audiences and reach even more people.

It so happens that search engine spiders which determine what types of content appear at the top of search results, cannot really watch a video or even listen to audio posted on the Internet. As a result, many videos and audio are simply not noticed by search engines and are not given any boost on search rankings as a result.

Luckily, adding in closed captions and transcribing audio to text lets search engines “hear” your content and then give it a once-over, making it much more searchable than other videos and audio that do not use these kinds of things. This will boost your traffic and ultimately let you share your content to even more people in the world.

  1. By improving the user experience.

We’ve all been in situations where you’re watching or listening to a webinar, and you’re following along with it leisurely as you perhaps lounge around at home or cook dinner or clean around the house, and then a new speaker comes into the webinar and you gradually find yourself furrowing your brows and shaking your head and mouthing out, “What…?” and just plain being stumped at the new speaker who drones on and on and on about something, all because of one thing: you can’t understand anything and everything the new guy says!

The above situation described may be funny in hindsight, but it does tend to be something of a headache when it happens. There is a silver lining just yet, however, and it comes in the form of closed captions. Closed captioning webinars will let you and your viewers avoid cases of not being able to understand someone’s words because you need only to read the captions to actually understand what he or she is saying. Thus, the viewers will enjoy the webinar more, which can potentially lead to even more viewers flocking to your webinars, which is no doubt a win-win situation for you.

  1. By allowing for better knowledge retention.

One thing webinar makers often worry about is actually making sure that the content of their webinars are remembered by the people who listen to them. After all, what is the point of going through the hassle of making a webinar when no one even learns something from it?

Closed captioning once again saves the day here, in that it lets people who view your webinars remember your stuff more. After all, it has been proven time and again that both hearing and listening to something boosts knowledge retention and lets people follow along with your thoughts and ideas. This also benefits people who learn more from seeing visual representations of something, because now they can read what is being said in your webinar. Viewers will also be able to see full names, brand names, rather technical terminologies and the like, which lets them search these for themselves as needed.

  1. By giving the viewers flexibility.

Not everyone watches webinars at home. Some do it in the library, some at some boring university lecture, others at a crowded bus, and still others while on break at work. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, anyone can watch webinars practically anywhere in the world, given that there is access to the Internet, of course. What this means for you is that there may be people who are viewing your webinars in an environment that is not conducive to actually hearing the audio or seeing the video of your webinar.

Closed captioning will help in this regard, for now you can actually just read through the captions and follow the content of the webinar without needing to hear the audio, or even see the video itself.