Want to host a webinar? While webinars are great tools for lead generation and thought leadership, most companies are doing them all wrong. Use these tips to ensure your next webinar is anything but boring and frustrating for your adueince.
Webin-are you doing it right?
Every week I am invited to watch webinars – some about business, some about life topics, and some about random hobby-related topics, which seem like they could be valuable. The problem is, I often hesitate to sign up because, let’s face it – most webinars are boring.
However, there are many times when the title is so enticing that I feel like I must hop on or else I’d be missing some groundbreaking information and my colleagues will have a leg up if I don’t listen (and I guess, I just generally have a fear of being left out). But, all too often, post-webinar I am left disappointed feeling like the last 60 minutes were a complete waste of time.
Let’s quickly review: A basic webinar runs around 60 minutes with 45 minutes allocated to presenting and 15 for Q&A. There is usually at least one presenter (sometimes up to three within an hour) and a moderator who runs the intro and Q&A portion. Such a structure works best for larger audiences and allows the presenter to keep the pace and remain on point.
But, there are plenty more determining factors than just the basic logistics that are key to ensuring your next webinar is informational to your audience and valuable to your business – and anything but boring.
- Stay focused. As mentioned above, it is the moderator/presenter’s job to keep the focus and this is absolutely one of the most important guiding factors to ensuring a webinar is successful. So be sure to stay focused and on topic throughout the presentation. That means, you must identify a topic that is valuable to your audience, create the main talking points and present them in order. Then keep the webinar on topic through the entire presentation.
- Be explicit. When launching the promotion of the webinar, be explicit about the contents of the webinar so the potential audience can make an informed decision about whether or not they will gain value from the time investment. Outline the topics, speakers, and the expected outcome. Avoid vague terms like “This webinar will show you the power of social media promotion.”
- Set expectations…and deliver. There is nothing worse than participating in a webinar that is going to reveal how to calculate the ROI of social media in the B2B space without ever explaining how to calculate the ROI of social media. Make sure the presenter and the audience are on the same page when it comes to the deliverables and the intended objectives. The presenter must deliver on the objectives and the audience should feel as though they understand and have the deliverables at the close of the webinar. Even if the webinar is used for lead generation and the end slide is a clear call-to-action to learn more, make sure the audience has already learned a good portion of what they came to learn – don’t leave it all in the follow-up.
- Provide lists or links. When reviewing resources or tools during the webinar, add them to the slide where they are mentioned or to a recap slide at the end so the references aren’t difficult to find once the slides are delivered. Although many webinars don’t include resource lists, it is a best practice that will create a stronger relationship with your audience and will continue the value of the content after the 60 minutes have come to a close.
- Test the technology. A few weeks ago I was a co-presenter for a webinar and the third presenter had a poor connection. Within the first 30 seconds of her portion, comments flooded in asking her to adjust her microphone. Unfortunately, the sound quality issue wasn’t fixed and the audience was frustrated about the “unclear” delivery and some even signed off. Word to the wise – test and retest the technology. Do a dry run of the webinar with your team to ensure everything is working fine.
- Have a clear call-to-action. At the end of the webinar, what do you want the audience to do? Should they visit a site or download a whitepaper? Whatever it is, make sure the CTA is clear as a bell so the audience understands the next steps and you can capitalize based on how you plan to follow up. Often this is just a matter of providing contact and social media sharing information on the final screen.
- Provide the tools. Speaking of that final screen, use it to your advantage if you are going to post the slides and make them available for downloads or sharing. Tell your audience where the slides will be hosted and encourage them to download or share. Remember to promote those slides on SlideShare, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Practise. And of course, rehearse the webinar. Have the presenter(s) log on the day before the webinar and ensure that all content is on-point (and this is especially important if there is more than one presenter). It’s always frustrating to hear a webinar presenter stumble through awkward phrases or technical jargon.
In the end, if you take nothing else from this article, take this: the webinar is about your audience, not about you. Use that guiding principle and your webinars should never disappoint.
Flickr photo via evan_carroll