35 Tips for Creating and Hosting the Perfect Webinar
As an entrepreneur, you know that to get through the noise of social media and to reach your customers and prospects, you need to create high-quality content. The recent shift towards video content rather than the written word has made me consider hosting a webinar.
As Drew Hendricks says, “Marketers have begun to look beyond eBooks, blogs and social posts towards more diverse types of content. Webinars are extremely powerful for drawing in and keeping in touch with prospects. They showcase your brand’s expertise in your industry and give your company a human voice, literally.”
I may have attended a webinar here and there, but I do not know anything about creating or holding one. Therefore, I looked up what tips exist on the internet, and I will share them with you. You can then decide whether a webinar is something for you and how you will approach the process of creating webinars. You can also use this list as a checklist.
Learning through webinars
For you as an entrepreneur, a webinar is a way to connect with (potential) customers. Arunima Majumdar describes what your audience can take from a webinar. They come to find information and to learn: “With advancements in technology, many different modes of information delivery can be utilized in e-learning. Added to that, there is a pressing need to deliver technology-enabled learning that the learners can consume, wherever and whenever they want – all within tight budgets. In this scenario, webinars are a powerful medium of learning delivery across varied learner groups – small or large. Easy to access as well as convenient, webinars are an effective mode of learning for professionals who can fit in the short bursts of learning into their schedules.”
12 tips you need before starting a webinar
Remember it is about them
In order to deliver content that resonates and delights, focus on offering your audience genuine value. Address the challenges and issues that your audience faces and provide them with advice that is actionable.
Of course, you want to promote your product, but leave this message for the end and do not make it the main gist of your presentation. Instead, focus on positioning your brand as the experts on a specific topic and your team as the people with all the answers.
If you are trying to get new clients, you can train on what sets you apart from the competition or train about your products. If you are trying to get more out of your customer base, then pick topics that will allow you to expand business with the general customer.
Consider partnering and co-presenting with someone whose brand complements yours or who caters to a similar audience. This is a win-win, as it amplifies both parties’ messages, compounds reach and adds credibility.
Find the right platform
To ensure maximum technical quality and accessibility, look for a webinar service that has 2015-worthy features. Your webinar platform should make it easy for participants to register and join. A service that requires the user to set up an account will turn off potential attendees.
Since not everyone will be sitting at their computers when the webinar is held, make sure the platform supports multiple ways to join in, like through a phone call or a smartphone app.
Your platform should also offer the ability to brand the experience and analytics that allow you to learn what worked and what did not, so your next webinar can be even better.
Give yourself lead time
Schedule the event with enough notice to allow for pre-webinar promotion momentum. You should get started several weeks in advance, so you have plenty of time to get the most out of both free and paid marketing channels.
Several weeks of lead time also opens up your options. If registration is slow, you know you need to redouble your marketing efforts or consider postponing the webinar. If registration is rapid and enthusiastic, you can run the webinar more than once in a row or divide it into sub-topics to split up the audience.
In addition to the value that your audience gains from the webinar itself, you can easily sweeten the deal with extras like special offers, related eBooks, additional supporting materials, transcripts and replays on demand. These extras help to keep prospects moving along the sales funnel after your webinar, but they can also serve as added incentives for participation. Let your prospects know ahead of time about all the extras they will get if they sign up, and make it clear in your marketing messages that these materials will be available to all registrants, even if they do not end up attending.
Send last-minute reminders
A gentle nudge always helps. Send reminders for all registrants on the same day and send them 30 minutes before the webinar is about to begin.
Only hold webinars with a purpose
Do not host a webinar for the sake of hosting a webinar. Do not fall into the trap of just hosting regular webinars for the sake of it or to get a few more leads. It is better to hold three webinars on fresh topics than to have nine out of twelve in a year be stale.
Plan the content in advance
An audience can tell when a presenter is overwhelmed and underprepared. Therefore, before you embark on creating a webinar series, be sure to plan the content for each episode far in advance. Similar to how a teacher would prepare a curriculum for the school year, it will be less overwhelming to execute a webinar series when you have an overarching guide to how the content will progress. In addition, planning your webinar flow will enable you to promote early and budget resources.
Consider the return on time
Make sure you have some established goals for the webinars such as conversion to paying customers or customer retention. Use these goals to determine if the time you invest is getting positive results.
The most important part of your webinar is making sure all of your attendees and panelists can hear and see your content. If they cannot, your webinar will be a non-starter. You have to ensure a glitch-free experience for every attendee who comes to your event, which means testing every element of the webinar process before you show up: set up a test webinar, fully test your audio, video, and slides, test the recording process, run tests on all interactive components.
- A few days before the webinar, recruit someone who helps attendees troubleshoot individual problems, create a backup plan for if something goes wrong and learn the short bios for each of your panelists.
- Right before your webinar, prep your computer by closing bandwidth-hogging applications, backups, and other resource-intensive processes and by stopping notifications. Also, make sure you are plugged into a working power source and that you have a tidy work area. Turn off noise gadgets like your phone. Finally, sign on to the webinar at least 10-15 minutes early. This allows you to be relaxed and ready when the webinar starts, plus you can handle any last minute issues that may come up.
8 tips for your virtual presentation
Majumdar gives you tips on how to make sure that your slides are entertaining
The first step into creating a virtual presentation for a webinar is to create a suitable blueprint, which details the flow that the presentation is going to take. As per the flow, start creating content.
Textual content for a virtual presentation should be crisp and to-the-point. Like a classroom presentation, the text should not just mimic what the speaker will say. Use keywords rather than sentences.
Unlike a classroom presentation, in which the presenter can talk and explain a slide for 2-3 minutes, a virtual presentation has to have a slide movement every 20-40 seconds to keep the audience interested. This can include slide transitions, annotations or section highlights – all relevant to what the learner needs to know.
Graphics are a big part of a virtual presentation and cut down textual matter. Use them liberally to provide suitable context or ideas to the learner.
Only use the suitable point of detail for graphics that need to be explained, such as graphs or charts. Keep the learner’s attention. Provide visual clues like one-word descriptors, figures or percentages to help learners understand the graph or chart quickly.
Audio is the backbone of a virtual presentation and instrumental in its success. With minimalistic on-screen text, audio can successfully explain and detail out concepts and ideas presented. However, keep in mind the limited time-span of a webinar; audio should not go into unnecessary details.
Provide interactivity within the presentation through questions or polls that invite learner participation. An audience poll early on can provide an insight on what the learner already knows about the topic. Ask questions to get the learner excited about thinking about new ideas or concepts. Other interactivities like open-ended discussions can be conducted at the end of a session to invite new ideas and suggestions.
Collaboration tools like Whiteboards can be utilized within webinars to share documents or images and to explain them using annotation tools.
6 tips on how to present with an impact
Majumdar also gives you tips on how to present a webinar in such a way that it resonates with your audience.
For a strong webinar delivery, it is important to take into account that a webinar allows very little time to explain a multitude of ideas and concepts. The speaker should have concise notes ready to deliver most within the stipulated time-frame.
The speaker notes should take into account various interactivities like slide transitions, animations or videos that are included in the presentation and time the audio piece accordingly.
When talking to a global audience, it is necessary to keep cultural references in mind. Use of colloquial terms and jargon should be minimized.
Assign time slots for questions
Allowing discussions or question in the middle of a classroom session is commonplace. Nevertheless, when talking to an unseen audience in the virtual space, the speaker in the webinar needs to take charge of the flow that the session needs to take. Therefore, it is important to assign time slots within the webinar for questions and discussions and proceed according to plan.
Take charge of the conversation
For two-way question-answer sessions, the speaker needs to take charge of the conversation – much like an instructor in a classroom. Questions have to be answered in short and to the point. Discussions have to stay within the parameters of the topic and cannot diversify.
Unlike a classroom instructor, the speaker in a webinar cannot ‘see’ the audience, so he or she may need help in terms of creating a successful two-way flow of information. A dedicated Q&A facilitator can help the speaker in this matter and take charge of keeping track of all questions and queries asked as well as the order in which they are asked. This helps the speaker answer the most questions within the stipulated time.
7 (technical) tips for during your webinar
- Use professional equipment
- Do not forget to offer recordings too and to hit start
- Start your broadcast on time.
- Check sound levels, by asking your audience if they can hear and see you. Ask them to verify by sending a thumbs-up in the chat box.
- Be organized and in control: announce any status updates, special instructions, or housekeeping items at the beginning.
- Provide relevant social sharing info.
- Introduce all of your participants/panelists.
Tips for after the webinar
Things do not end once your webinar is over. Here are two tips to consider after your webinar, offered by YEC.
Be strategic with follow-up
Leading up to and after a webinar, you will want to keep communication with your audience frequent to remain top-of-mind. Consider leveraging a tool like Infusionsoft for identifying who has attended your webinar in the past, who signed up and did not attend, and who did not sign up in order to structure the proper follow-up message. The more you segment your audience, the better your conversion. Do not let your leads go cold because you failed at follow-ups.
Reuse, recycle and repurpose webinar content
Developing a webinar is hard work. Reuse that content elsewhere – on your website, in your newsletters, via social media, etc. You can get creative, too: turn it into a video, add it to an email drip sequence, and combine the content with your previous webinars as part of an e-book. Those, of course, are just a few ways to maximize the utility of webinars you create.
What can I do for you regarding webinars?
As you have read, long before you start your webinar and long after you have broadcasted, you need to inform your (potential) audience, you want to remain top-of-mind and you want to reuse the content of your webinar. As you have also read, it is good to divide all your contacts into segments, so that you can cater to them in an appropriate way. No matter what language you use during your webinar, it is good to offer your content in the languages appropriate for said segments. I am the owner of Dutch translation agency BudgetVertalingOnline, which offers affordable translations English <> Dutch. Therefore, I can help you if you need your content in more than one language. Would you like to get in touch? Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), send me a Tweet (@GdenHolder) or fill out the quotation form.
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