Just when we thought the old webinar was dead, a little global event happened in 2020…

And lo and behold, the webinar made a come back!

 

As we all know, the world of virtual events has really taken off lately. The likes of Zoom and Google Meet don’t know what’s hit them!

And with that has come a resurgence in the trusty old webinar.

 

Now granted, it hadn’t disappeared completely, and was a staple of many b2b enterprise companies for years before any of us had even heard of Zoom.

But it’s definitely top of the list for a lot more companies now.

And why not?

It’s a much more efficient way to run events, reach wider audiences and even interact with your customers.

And according to GoToWebinar in a survey of more than 3,000 professionals, it’s the second most engaging type of content that people prefer!

 

👉   So, if you’re planning on running one anytime soon, here’s a few pointers to get you started.

 

What is a webinar?

A little clarification always helps to set the stage before we dive into the good stuff.

A webinar is an interactive, online seminar that anyone with an Internet connection can view over the web.

They typically:

🕒     last between 30 minutes to an hour

👩‍🏫     are run by a host or moderator

📢     involve a speaker or two

❓     include some form of presentation or talk followed by a Q&A session

📅     are usually run on one of the ‘Big Three’ – Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday

IF YOU’RE PLANNING A WEBINAR SOON, GRAB YOUR FREE WEBINAR PLANNER HERE

Why run a webinar?

One of the main reasons for running a webinar is – as we all have come to know very well in recent months – because they are location agnostic.

It doesn’t matter that your host is based in Europe, your speakers in India and your audience in multiple locations across the world.

They are a great way to reach a much wider audience in a more flexible and extremely cost-effective way.

 

They’re also a great way to interact with your audience.

They give you the chance to ask questions of your audience; and your audience the opportunity to pose questions to your speakers.

As an extension to this, webinars are a great way to build your brand, helping you and your company establish itself as an industry or thought leader.

Heck, you can even use them to generate leads – who would have thought!

But don’t be deceived by the apparent simplicity.

There are a LOT of webinars out there right now, and that means a LOT of competition.

So you need to make sure yours stands out – in all the right ways!

How to run a webinar – a few starting basics

So you want to run a webinar?

Well here’s a Checklist to get you started and make sure you have all your bases covered well in advance.

Because remember, a great webinar requires preparation!

You may think a lot of these slick online events look casual and ‘off-the-cuff’.

In actual fact, they’ve had days, if not weeks, of preparation.

But before you run off in fear – think of all the great things you’ll generate off the back of this webinar.

You just need to follow these simple steps…👣

1. Settle on a great idea

Now this might seem like a no-brainer but you’ll want to make sure that you pick a really great topic or idea for your webinar.

Again, there’s a lot of competition out there at the moment so your topic and title need to stand out and grab people’s attention.

Your idea needs to be something that people will actually want to hear and learn about.

Just because you’ve launched a new product feature or widget, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best topic for your webinar. Sorry!

 

Of course, your best approach here is to do some research.

  • Ask your customers
    • Go ask them what’s keeping them up at night and what would be useful content for you to share with them.
  • Analyse your customer service logs
    • Depending on your product or service, why not dive into some of your customer service tickets and logs to find out what exactly your customers are grappling with.
  • SEO research
    • It’s not just for Google rankings and blog content! Use your SEO research to find out what people are interested in and what angles your webinar could take on a specific topic.

2. Choose the right speakers (the people, not the tech!)

Once you’ve settled on your webinar topic, the next important step is to choose the right speakers.

Here are a few things to consider when lining them up.

 

  • 2 or 3 speakers per webinar is best
    • Now this could be your host + one other, or your host + 2 speakers. This will very much depend on who you line up, as your ‘one other’ might be a dynamite speaker that can hold people’s attention for hours. The trick is not to have too many different voices though, as with each change, your audience will have to get used to a new style of speaking, and this may result in switching off or even dialing out!
  • Think about your audience
    • In Step 1, you’ll have done some really great research into your audience and their needs. So use this again to determine who your speaker(s) should be.
      • Is it a technical audience that also needs a technical speaker?
      • Is there a key influencer out there that your audience would love to hear from?
      • Does your audience really want to hear from your VP of Sales (sorry, they aren’t stupid, they’ll know what’s up!)?

3. Spend time on your content

Here’s where you’ll spend the bulk of your prep time.

But don’t be put off!

As this isn’t about creating loads and loads of slides beforehand – quite the opposite.

It’s about finding the right balance of content to keep your audience engaged throughout.

Here’s a few pointers:

👉    Keep your slides visual and don’t weigh them down with text.

You want your audience to listen, actively, not be caught up with reading slides. Use the slides as a visual support, especially with imagery they’ll remember afterwards.

👉    Think about speaker format and handovers.

Make sure you’ve thought through how your speakers should present each slide and if they need input from other speakers on the same topic. Then also consider how you’ll hand over between speakers – are there flags for this to happen? It’s best not to jump surprises on your fellow presenters!

👉     Include a video break.

This is a great way to take a break in a webinar – both for the speakers, and the audience. They work just like they do in face-to-face situations. Cutting to a video slows down the pace and can be a great way to engage your audience in a more interactive way.

👉     Write a strong script – but don’t overscript it!

Now different speakers will vary here – the more experienced ones may prefer to ad lib and do this brilliantly. In general though, you’ll want to have at least a rough script in place so you all keep to topic and ensure you cover all the points you’d wanted to make. Just a tip – don’t overscript and then read from it. Your audience will know straight away if you’re reading verbatim from something and you’ll lose all passion from your voice.

👉      Plan for interaction

Perhaps one of the most important things in a webinar to keep your audience engaged and interested. Plan for interaction! Webinar and video conferencing tools are full of these now – they include things like polls, hand raisers and asking questions. Be sure to use them. Not only will you get valuable feedback but you’ll keep your audience awake!

 

4. Do a dry run!

Arguably part of your prep phase, but so important it warrants its own step!

Make sure you rehearse a couple of times at least.

  • Check your timings – is everyone sure their content fits within the allotted time?
  • Rehearse the handovers so all speakers can come off mute seamlessly.
  • Prep some Q&A questions – just in case your audience don’t feel comfortable asking directly, have a few pre-prepared that you can go to in order to prompt others.
  • Pick your room. In other words, where you’ll run the webinar from. If you’re at home, then rooms with soft furnishings are best, such as a bedroom or a living room, as this reduces echo.
  • Invest in equipment. Depending on how often you’ll be running webinars, you may want to invest in some proper equipment to ensure you’ve got the best sound and set-up. GoToWebinar have some great tips on the best tech to buy over here. This is also why rehearsing is so important as you’ll be able to work out what issues you might have well in advance.
  • Play around with your lighting. If you can’t afford the expensive stuff, then at the very least, try out different lighting options. The best option is always to go with natural lighting, but if you can’t get that, you can emulate with a desk light and a translucent lampshade. The CEO of ON24 has more more advice on that here.
  • Avoid dual screening. Where possible, avoid dual screening as it can be really off-putting for your viewers when you don’t seem to be actually addressing them and are staring off into some other distant space. 
  • Check the recording works. Don’t assume your settings are correct for this so be sure to check it works ok!

5. Prep your space and check your mic

You’ll be able to suss most of this out in your rehearsal sessions.

A bit before the webinar itself, you’ll want to double check on your surrounding space and that your mic works well.

Now many would also recommend here to eliminate any background noise completely.

But that’s not always possible in the busy lives we lead today. And actually, the odd background noise is fine. We don’t all live in bunkers or the remote desert.

So a bit of far-off clattering makes it that bit more human.

Just avoid the big noises or major interruptions that could put the whole thing off kilter!

6. Be early

A final one before you kick it all off – log in and open up the webinar early.

It’s your final chance to check sound quality and that your camera hasn’t decided to die overnight.

Plus, you’ll nearly always get attendees wanting to join early for whatever reason.

So this gives you the chance to welcome attendees – even by name if it’s a smaller group.

One speaker I’ve worked with a few times now used to say as well that a bit of pre-webinar banter is great for breaking the ice and making your audience feel at home.

And you don’t have to include the attendees in this, it could just be some informal conversation between the speakers at the start.

Your attendees will feel like they’re getting a ‘behind-the-scenes’ peek, and that’s always a good thing for engagement!

 

There you have it – the key basics you need to have in place when preparing for and running a webinar.

Tick these off your list and you’ll be well on your way to running a successful and engaging webinar for your audience.

The Ultimate Webinar Planner

Ready to start planning your next webinar? Get your free copy of the Webinar Planner & Checklist now!

 

💜 Happy Planning!

From Emma at immerj

 

[Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash].