A smart, well-run webinar can be one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s repertoire.
If you’re able to put together a well-thought out, content-rich webinar that helps solve a problem for your audience, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an authority in your field.
Below, we’ll outline some of the tips that can help you put on a superb webinar.
1) Create An Agenda for Your Webinar: Before you begin anything with your webinar, you need to be able to answer the “Why?” question, as in why are you putting on a webinar? Is it to generate leads? Introduce a new product or technology? Educate the marketplace about your brand? Make sure you can identify the purpose of why you want to do a webinar before you start the process.
2) Tell A Story And/Or Solve A Problem: When you’re creating the content around your webinar, the worst thing you can do is turn it into a sales pitch or a brag-fest; nobody likes the pushy salesman or the guy who stands up in the middle of the room yelling “Hey everybody, come see how good I look!”. Successful webinars have content that usually do one of two things, either tell a story or solve a problem. Featuring case studies in your webinar is a fantastic way to show the audience how your company can solve your audience’s pain points without boring them with one more sales pitch.
3) Get the Right Speaker(s): Selecting the right speaker can either make or break your webinar; without saying, make sure you choose someone who is comfortable with public speaking and is a bit charasmatic at the same time. Additionally, from my experience, you’ll have a better turnout from audience if your speaker has an authoritative and/or technical background. Everyone loves to hear from CEOs, Presidents, and people who actually use and/or built the product or service. One thing you most likely want to avoid is to ask your Sales or Marketing Manager to speak; while they may be knowledgeable on the subject, audiences tend to tune out presentations that sound or appear “sales pitchy”.
4) Create A Title and Description With Great Curb Appeal: A good title and description is like the front porch of a home, it may not be the biggest part of the house, or the most important, but it’s the first thing people see and will be the face of your webinar. If your home has no curb appeal, chances are that people will pass by and not look back; the same goes for webinars.
Webinar titles should be 1) brief (try to keep them shorter than 100 characters), 2) informative (make sure the topic of your webinar is easily conveyed and identified), and 3) an answer to their prayers. Every webinar attendee is looking for one of three things, they want you to show how them how you can save them time, money, or effort in their job and/or life. Often, great webinar titles that attract a large audiences begin with the words “How-to”.
Webinar descriptions and your landing page, like your title, should also be brief, but in them you should answer the five “W”s:
- Who? – Introduce your presenters with brief bios to establish their credibility and why the audience should listen to what they have to say.
- What? – In your description, explain what your webinar will cover, what pain points you will solve?
- When? – A small, but often overlooked detail, make sure you clearly show the date and time of the webinar.
- Where? – Be sure to have a clear and single call-to-action of where they can go to sign up or reserve a spot for the presentation.
- Why? – Lastly, explain the value of your webinar and what attendees should expect to learn by attending.
5) Pick the Right Time and Day: Obviously you’re not going to host a webinar on the weekend, but there are also things that need to be considered when picking the date and time for your webinar. Stay away from Mondays and Fridays as people are either usually swamped with meetings or trying to get caught up for or prepare for the weekend. In a recent poll done by WhatCounts, the data suggested that their audience preferred Wednesday or Thursday for webinars, and I tend to agree. Also, needless to say, stay away from holidays and holiday weekends.
As for the time of the webinar, choose a time that caters to the largest amount of your target audience possible. We’ve typically found that 2 p.m. EST works for best for audiences in the U.S. because its not too late for those on the east coast, and not too early for those on the west coast. However, if you have a large following in the U.K. or in India, you may prepare yourselves for late night or early morning webinar.
6) Pick the Right Platform: There are dozens of webinar platforms and tools out there, and they offer a variety of featured to different needs and preferences. There are many articles like this one that summarize the different webinar platforms and their features. When researching webinar platforms, some of the questions you should keep in mind are things such as how many people will the tool accommodate, how much does it cost, does it have the features you need, and are you able to record. If you do your homework, you should be able to find a platform that suits your needs.
7) Create Slides With Great Visuals and Little Text: Now that you’re creating the slides for your presentation, the most important rule-of-thumb you can follow is “less is more”. Let images be the main focal point of your slides, and if you need to put text on your slides, do so sparingly. If you have a lot of information that needs to be displayed, consider splitting it up and placing them on two or three separate slides. Slides that are text-heavy are distracting to the audience and are visually unappealing; try and keep your slides to at least two-thirds image and one-third text. Additionally, speaking of text, keep your font size large (minimum of 20 pt.).
8) Use Animations Wisely, If At All: While animations might look great and give your presentation a little splash in person, on many webinar platforms, there will be a lag that slow your animations and ultimately make them look clunky. Unless the platform you’re using is specifically designed to handle transitions and animations, I would recommend not using them.
9) Engage Your Audience: When preparing a presentation, good public speakers plan on how they are going to engage the audience, and webinars should be no different. If your webinar platform allows, don’t be afraid to throw in a poll and a question or two in order to facilitate interaction with your audience. If your content is fluid enough, entertain the idea of fielding questions as they come in the middle of your presentation instead of holding them all to the end. Additionally, don’t be afraid to create a hashtag for the webinar so people can tweet about the event later and continue the conversation on Twitter.
10) Publicize Everywhere: It’s important to get the word out about your webinar, especially if you’re being charged for the service (or even charging the attendees). I generally recommend to begin promoting it a month prior, but at minimum you should give your audience a couple of weeks notice.
Good places to advertise your webinar include your website, banner ads, e-newsletters, Twitter channels, Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups, and print materials. Don’t forget, you can promote future webinars at the end of current webinars if you have them planned out far enough in advance.
11) Schedule A Dry Run: At least a few days before the webinar and once you’ve completed your slides, make sure you perform a dry run of the webinar, testing and familiarizing yourself with the equipment. This is also a good opportunity to time your presentation if you haven’t in your previous practices (which you’ve hopefully done at least 2-3 by now). Lastly, if you have any “extras” like polls, on-screen questions, animations, or videos, this is the time to make sure that they are functioning.
12) Brainstorm Seed Questions: Sometimes, at the beginning of your Q&A session, there may not be any questions submitted by the audience; that doesn’t mean that they don’t have any questions in mind, but perhaps they are a little shy or they need a moment to phrase it correctly and type it in. In lieu of this, I always recommend that presenters have 2-4 seed or “lead-in” questions ready to answer in case there aren’t any readily available.
13) When Presenting, Talk With Your Hands: One of the hardest traps for presenters to avoid (especially when you’re just looking at a screen) is becoming monotone in your voice and putting the audience to sleep. To avoid this, one of the best suggestions I’ve heard is to talk with your hands, even if you’re alone in the room. These small gestures will keep you speaking naturally and will help keep the audience engaged and listening to what you’re saying instead of how you’re saying it. Another good suggestion to keep from going monotone can be to stand up while you’re presenting.
15) Keep Calm and Know That Glitches Happen: If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about webinars is that Murphy’s Law always seems to be in effect, and no one is immune; my co-worker attended a webinar put on by Amazon with thousands of people online and it crashed in the middle of the presentation. When the unexpected occurrences happen, the most important thing to remember is to keep calm and do your best to work through the issue. Sometimes you have to improvise and even present in less-than-ideal conditions, but the reality is whereas this is so common, attendees have likely seen it before and they understand. As long you do your best to keep them informed while trying to rectify the issue, they’ll be forgiving.
14) Follow-Up With A Recording of the Webinar and/or Its Slides: It has become a common practice (and almost expected by the audience) that the presenting company will follow-up a day or two following the live webinar and send a recording of the webinar to both those who attended the webinar as well as those who could not. People often register for webinars fully aware that they will not be able to attend the live webinar, but they’re still interested in the topic and hope to receive the on-demand version to watch at a more convenient time.
Have any other tips for webinars that I missed? Let me know in the comments.