Webinars are powerful.
When done right they can:
- Build your brand.
- Establish and grow your authority in your industry.
- Generate a ton of leads.
- Be repurposed into blogs, videos, and other types of content.
But there’s a problem.
Not all webinars are created equal.
While a select few enjoy massive success and over 500 attendees (2%, to be exact)…
…Most fall flat, with low attendance and high drop-off rates.
But not to worry!
In this guide, you’ll learn 41 tips for pulling your webinar out of the mediocre, forgettable, zero-conversions zone.
But first, let’s talk a little more about webinars.
What Is a Webinar?
Put simply, a webinar is an online seminar.
It has all the necessary elements of a seminar: host, presenter, presentation (usually slides and other visual media), and audience.
The key difference is that webinars are held purely online.
The typical webinar template looks like this:
- Inspirational story.
- Meat of the webinar (which includes video of the presenter talking, plus slides).
- Q&A portion, where attendee questions are answered live.
The main difference between webinars and online videos is that webinars offer live interaction between the presenter and the audience.
Why You Should Use Webinars
If you’ve never run a webinar before, why start now?
- You can reach people from anywhere in the world. No more being limited to Joe down the street. Also, no more expensive plane tickets for your guests.
- Your audience can interact directly with you. This is a huge enticement, especially if you’ve already gained traction as an industry leader.
- You establish trust. If your free webinar is power-punching and amazing, it follows that your paid products are beyond great, right? (Hello, conversions!)
- You gain leads. Since registering requires email addresses, a webinar event pulls in a ton of new leads.
- You gain a huge source of inspiration. Webinar content is just the beginning. With a touch of creativity, you can repurpose it into blogs, video content, infographics, and more.
So, ready to dive into creating your own standout webinar?
Here are 41 tips to keep in mind.
41 Tips Only the Greatest Webinar Hosts Know
Worried about being ignored or abandoned by your audience?
Follow these tips to make sure it doesn’t happen.
1. Know Your Attendees
- Who will be attending?
- What challenges/problems are they facing?
- What are their goals?
Answering these questions will help you plan a webinar that’s laser-focused on improving your attendees’ lives.
For instance, Teachable does a great job with their webinars because they know that their audience:
- Is composed of people dreaming of creating their own profitable online courses…
- …but don’t know where to start.
2. Think About Visual Branding
Be consistent and try to align everything with your brand’s visual tone.
For example, be sure you insert your logo where it makes sense, such as the opening animation or the main slides. You also need to use fonts, colors, and other visual elements that match your brand’s overall style.
These small details are essential to creating a cohesive experience for your webinar attendees.
Also, they’ll make your brand more recognizable, especially if you utilize the same visual style in your other content.
For example, check out Meera Kothand’s yellow, red, black, and white slide color scheme…
…and how well it goes with her CTAs and countdown timer.
3. Keep Mobile in Mind
Not everyone who views your webinar will do so on a desktop computer.
Although only 7% webinar viewers prefer mobile over desktop, there’s still a chance a bunch of your watchers will be tuning in on their phones.
To give them a flawless experience:
- Increase the size of your text and visuals.
- Choose a webinar platform that supports mobile. A great example is ClickMeeting. (You can download their app if you want to run the webinar on your phone.)
4. Offer Your Products or Services as an Add-On
Offering your product in the middle of a webinar won’t turn the whole thing into an ad.
As long as your webinar delivers everything it promises, your audience should be more perceptive to whatever you pitch.
There are only two things you need to remember:
- The rest of the advice presented in the webinar should still be useful with or without your product.
- Make sure to present the product when it makes sense.
5. Consider a Paid Webinar Series
Webinar marketing can be costly. A paid webinar series could pay for itself.
Asking attendees to pay for a webinar raises their expectations that the quality will be top-shelf. Make sure you deliver on that promise.
Once you’re confident in the value and quality you can provide, consider producing a paid webinar series for extra income.
Just remember to wait until you’re absolutely sure your target audience is willing to pay for your webinar content.
Test different price points until you find one that’s right for your audience.
While a paid model might keep your numbers down, you are likely to get a more engaged audience.
Webinar Planning & Preparation
6. Get Help
Hosting a webinar by yourself is possible, but it can drive you crazy.
To avoid this?
Consider getting someone (or multiple people) to work with you to make sure things go smoothly – the planning, the promotion, the webinar itself, and everything that follows.
They don’t necessarily have to be knowledgeable about the webinar topic, but they should be able to troubleshoot issues and moderate interactions with attendees. (An assistant who knows about webinar equipment and software is great.)
7. Pick Your Topic
Always focus on content first.
You must maintain high editorial standards.
People attend webinars to learn.
So, you need to make sure you are offering topics they find interesting.
One of your goals is to demonstrate your authority as an information source.
You must show that you know your stuff and that you’re in-tune with whatever’s going on in your space.
To have a powerful webinar, you need to narrow it down to a specific topic that will be informative to your target audience.
For example, a webinar about content marketing would be a broad and vague topic to discuss in a webinar.
Instead, try to pick one area of content marketing, such as visual content. This will help you plan the webinar more efficiently and stay focused on a topic.
Here are five ways you can find a webinar topic your audience will be interested in:
- FAQs: Mind your frequently asked questions page for topics your customers frequently search.
- Search Google Analytics for Top Traffic Pages: You can pick a topic by seeing what content is being discussed and shared the most on your site.
- Ask Sales / Social Team: Ask your team members what topics they discuss with customers daily. These may be areas where more information may be needed.
- Poll Your Audience: You can also ask your audience directly for topics they would find useful.
- Competition: Look at your competitors to see if there are any topics or ideas you can adapt and make your own.
8. Write an Attention-Grabbing Title
Your webinar’s title is your first interaction with your audience.
When they see it, they’ll decide whether to sign up.
This means the first step toward crafting a magnetizing title is to know your audience and their pain points.
For instance, you learn that your audience is struggling with finding share-worthy topics to write about in their blog.
To excite their interest, give your webinar a title like this.
- Don’t be too fancy. Simply identify your audience’s problem and craft a title that promises to solve it.
- Use power-punching words. “Fill” and “ease” spark up your audience’s imagination. Think about how much less engagement you’d get with a title like “Know What to Write About.”
- Never be misleading. Your title shouldn’t make promises your webinar content can’t keep.
9. Find a Great Speaker
You can either use speakers from within your company or industry experts or influencers.
Regardless of your route, the key is making sure the speaker has the proper knowledge and experience to talk about the topic of your webinar.
Your speakers should be credible and demonstrate authority.
If your webinar is sponsored, and the sponsor will choose or provide the speaker, make sure to maintain editorial control.
Insist on an executive or subject matter expert who knows the topic well and is a polished presenter.
Work together to define a topic that balances the sponsor’s messaging with the needs of your audience.
10. Pick a Date / Time
Keep these scheduling secrets in mind:
- Thursdays are the best days for holding webinars.
- 11 a.m. is the best time for webinars.
Remember to keep time zones in mind.
If you’re based on the West Coast, then starting a webinar at 6 p.m. PT is probably too late for attendees living on the East Coast.
11. Decide on Your Webinar Format
Once you know what topic you want to cover, make sure to break it down into more specific topics and plan the webinar formats you’re going to use.
Here are some of the most popular formats you should consider:
- Single Expert Presenter: One expert shares their insights or tips.
- Dual Presenters: Instead of just one presenter, you have two presenters. This helps engage and educate the audience and may allow you to share more information.
- Panel: Just like a live panel, you could host a group of experts discussing a specific topic.
- Q&A Webinar: A Q&A webinar is a great opportunity to maximize the engagement of attendees. An expert (or a panel) simply answers the questions asked by your audience via chat or social media.
- Interview Webinar: Having a popular influencer as a guest speaker is a great way to boost attendance and build your authority. You just need to be up for the extra work of influencer outreach, which can be time-consuming and tedious.
- Product Demonstration: If the goal of your webinar is to promote a product, then you can choose the product demonstration or tutorial format.
Test different formats until you find the one that works best with your audience – then stick to it.
You can also do a mix of formats. For example, you could have a mix of a single expert presenter and Q&A.
12. Do a Dry Run
Before the day of the presentation, get everyone together to do a dry run of the webinar, acting as if it were the real thing.
Make sure all the equipment is working properly, the slides are all in order, and the speakers know what they’re doing.
Remember, things will go wrong on a dry run.
(I’m saying this from experience.)
To avoid glitches and embarrassing gaffes during the actual webinar, make sure to do a complete “dress rehearsal” a few days before going live.
13. Document Your Webinar Process
You may need to craft dozens or even hundreds of webinars to reap the full benefits of this amazing marketing tool.
That’s why you need to document your entire process.
Doing so will streamline your webinar production in the future.
Create an editorial calendar where topics, speakers, and dates are tracked and planned weeks in advance.
Also, make a list of every task and to-do item for every stage of your webinar so nothing gets forgotten.
You can use a project management tool to make sure everyone stays on time.
Make sure to keep separate records for different webinar formats.
Over time, you’ll be able to identify what works, what doesn’t, and what you can do to fine-tune your process.
14. Choose the Right Webinar Platform
Worried that technical problems will lead to poor feedback and ratings?
You don’t have to be – once you pick the right webinar platform.
Here are four questions to ask when selecting one.
- Does it fit your budget?
- Does it include the features that you need, such as the ability to offer surveys?
- How many attendees does it allow?
- Can you record?
Search Engine Journal uses GoToWebinar as the webinar platform for its SEJ Webinars series. Its easy interface allows for a seamless user experience.
It’s easy to schedule and configure the settings of each webinar.
GoToWebinar also provides automated polls, surveys, and follow-up emails to promote attendee engagement.
However, it requires attendees to download the software so they can join the webinar.
Some might find it annoying to have to download it, but the features can compensate for the download effort.
It also has chat capabilities that allow for more engagement.
The webinar reports generated by GoTo are segregated by what metrics you wish to see, whether it’s about attendance, registration, performance, a survey, or just the overall webinar analytics.
It gives a good measure of what you did well, and what else you can improve on.
Other webinar platform options include:
- Webinar Jam
15. Invest in a Great Headset or Microphone
You don’t want your audience to be straining just to catch every word you say.
You want them sitting back comfortably as they listen to your crystal-clear voice.
To achieve this, stop using your laptop’s built-in mic for webinars.
Upgrade to a high-quality headset or microphone. You’ll notice the difference in no time.
This doesn’t mean you need to shell out $500.
You can get excellent microphones under a hundred dollars if you know where to look.
Check out our recommendations here: The Top 10 Microphones for Podcasting.
16. Make Sure Your Internet Connection Is Stable
Ever get kicked out of a webinar?
Now imagine this: getting kicked out of your own webinar!
Yup, this can happen if you have an unstable internet connection.
To avoid the embarrassment of this webinar gaffe, test your internet connection first.
Switching to a wired connection of at least 3 MBPS upload speed is an excellent idea.
Remember, this is true for both the host and the presenter.
17. Test Your Gear
Be careful not to overlook the basic stuff.
Make sure you are equipped to deliver a high-quality webinar that people will remember.
The best way to do so is to set up a test webinar including every single feature you wish to use, starting with your audio and video recording equipment.
You don’t need to have an elaborate plan. Just record a test clip and ask for someone’s opinion regarding your sound, video quality, or any other elements that your audience will notice.
If you use a particular webinar platform, familiarize yourself with all useful features it offers (e.g., interactive features like polls that can help you improve engagement).
On the day of the webinar, be ready 10 to 15 minutes early to make sure that you’re prepared and that all of your gear is working.
Bonus tip: Never use new equipment on the day of the webinar. Use equipment you’re familiar with so if there is a problem you can troubleshoot.
18. Eliminate Any Potential Sources of Noise
Here’s a short checklist of the things you should do right before the webinar to prevent any distracting noises:
- Mute every other device that isn’t necessary for the webinar.
- Inspect your room for anything that produces noise.
- Make sure your webinar area is inaccessible to pets and children.
- Close applications running in the background of your computer.
Marketing Your Webinar
19. Create a Webinar Landing Page
Don’t forget to create a landing page for your webinar.
Use this page to drive registrations and provide important information, including:
- The topic.
- Speaker information.
- Date and time.
- What attendees will learn.
Remember, you don’t need to get super fancy.
A simple page like this will work.
20. Write a Blog Post About Your Webinar
Write a blog post to help promote the webinar in advance.
Even if you don’t have a huge blog following, you can share this on social and email.
21. Promote Your Webinar on Social Media
Promoting your webinar on social media is one of the best ways to boost attendance.
Naturally, you need to promote your webinar through your existing social media channels, but you should also leverage the power of hashtags.
A branded hashtag can also work well as an interaction tool during your webinar.
For example, you can have a contest that requires viewers to tweet using a particular hashtag. The winner can then be chosen live by performing a quick hashtag search.
A more straightforward strategy, however, is to simply encourage attendees to use your hashtag when asking questions or discussing the webinar.
Not only will this strategy heighten the audience’s sense of involvement, but it will also further extend your brand’s social reach – introducing more people to your brand as a result.
22. Promote Your Webinar via Email
If you already have an email database, make sure to promote your webinar to your subscribers.
Keep it short, concise, and make it easy for people to register.
Also, make sure you send out email reminders to people who have already registered for your webinar.
For example, you can email participants one day before the webinar or perhaps one hour before it starts.
Test what works best for you.
Bonus Tip: Keep promoting after it’s over through all these channels as well, especially any content that you publish based on the webinar. You want to squeeze the most value out of your webinar as possible.
23. Promote Your Webinar via a Popup
Do you say “ewww” whenever you think of popups?
Those don’t work, right?
In fact, the top-performing pop-ups have a conversion rate of 9.3%. (Compare that to the average click-through rate of paid display ads – a meager .35%!)
So, no, pop-ups aren’t dead.
It may be that you’re simply doing them wrong.
To turn things around for your webinar invitation popups:
- Be clear about what you’re offering (and make sure your audience desires it).
- Don’t show your popup immediately (show it when your visitor has been on your page for at least 15 seconds).
- Be unique and let your brand’s personality shine through.
Here are examples of popups we’ve used in the past.
Tips for Webinar Hosts
24. Start on Time
Your attendees are busy.
Don’t waste their time.
If your webinar is scheduled to start at 1 p.m., then make sure that everyone is all ready to go at 1 p.m.
There’s nothing more frustrating than being kept waiting on a hold screen.
You’ll lose attendees – and potential customers, clients, or subscribers.
25. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
First impressions matter.
When the webinar starts, you set the tone – so you will need to keep everyone engaged by welcoming them.
Know the bios of your speakers so you can introduce them without shuffling through papers or stumbling.
26. Hook Them Quick
You need to capture your audience’s attention immediately.
Remember, it only takes a couple of clicks to leave a webinar.
To keep your audience around:
- Avoid banter. People have better things to do, and if you bore them with your childhood story or your favorite ice cream brand (or any unnecessary, irrelevant details) they won’t stick around.
- Get straight to the point as soon as you can.
- Outline your audience’s pain points…
- …and make it clear you’ll solve them by the end of the webinar.
- List everything your audience is going to learn.
- Show them your enthusiasm and excitement.
27. Have Questions Ready for Q&A
Although attendees will likely ask plenty of questions, it’s always a smart idea to have a list of prepared questions ready, just in case the audience isn’t as engaged as you expected.
28. Accept That Things Might Go Wrong
No matter how prepared you are, always remember that some things are out of your hands.
You could lose electricity.
Your WiFi could go down.
Or your laptop could choose today to die.
Usually, the problems won’t be that dramatic. They’ll be more like hiccups.
But things can – and will – go wrong.
Tips for Webinar Presenters
29. Write a Great Script…
Just like any other type of live event, whether it’s a talk show or podcast, a script can do wonders for your webinar.
Your script is essentially your road map.
These notes will keep you on course.
Do you have to pre-plan every word you’re going to say?
But no matter how knowledgeable or passionate you are about a specified topic, trying to present or conduct an interview for an hour can be extremely challenging if it isn’t (at least slightly) scripted.
30. …But Don’t Be Afraid to Go Off Script
Preparing a well-written script may be an essential step in webinar planning, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow it to the letter.
Sometimes, you need to go off script and elaborate to keep your audience engaged and entertained.
Always remember that your goal isn’t to go through everything as fast as possible – rather, it should be to convey your message as comprehensively as possible.
31. Practice Your Presentation
There is no such thing as too much rehearsal.
Some people can just “wing it.”
But these typically result in “OK” presentations, not fantastic or memorable webinars.
Whether you’re reading your script word for word, or following cue cards, you need to rehearse in order to inject proper tonality and personality in your words.
If not for that, at least to make sure your sounds and slides are working well.
Sounding like a robot is bad.
Sounding like someone confident and personable is good.
Your goal is to be remembered.
People typically only remember great speakers.
The rest is quickly forgotten.
32. Develop Visual Slides
What’s the point of using slides in your webinar if they’re only going to contain bulleted lists or lengthy paragraphs?
This is lazy and a mistake.
Some presenters even make it worse by reading what the viewers can clearly see for themselves.
If that’s been your plan all along, then might as well forget about it – your webinar is probably going to be boring and fail.
When developing your slides, think more visuals, fewer words.
Use data visualizations rather than creating lists to iterate statistics.
Why would you show them this…
…when you can show them this?
Getting more visual isn’t too hard to do, as there are plenty of free and affordable design tools available.
33. Use Different Media Formats
Instead of just relying on slides and video of the presenter speaking, use different forms of media.
For example, you could add a video or animation to further illustrate your points.
If you’re demonstrating how a product works, walk the attendees through the process in real-time instead of just showing previously taken images.
It breaks up the monotony of the standard webinar and can keep your audience interested.
34. Plan for Interaction
You may think that holding a webinar, which uses video, text, and audio content, is a surefire way to maintain engagement.
But after listening to someone talk for 20 minutes or longer, your audience may get bored or just get distracted.
To make sure they pay attention up to the very end of your webinar, you need to encourage them to participate.
Ask poll questions, provide challenges, and just try to be conversational as you divulge the contents of your webinar.
Fortunately, most webinar platforms provide a handful of interactive tools – the most common of which being a chat area where attendees can communicate freely.
You should have no problem finding a platform that has everything you need to carry out your ideas.
35. Are You Inexperienced?
If this is your first webinar – or your first attempt at public speaking – you can expect to be nervous.
It’s perfectly fine. Just about everyone does.
Cracking a joke and acknowledging your nervousness is acceptable, but just don’t let your nerves affect the flow of the webinar.
If you’re ever in doubt, steer the conversation toward the host or another guest speaker to take the lead.
Also, mind your use of pauses to control the pace and learn to prevent non-words like “ummm”, “err”, and so on.
Ultimately, your speaking abilities can only improve with practice.
36. Teach & Sell
You should teach and sell at the same time.
Most people make the mistake of teaching and then selling.
This mistake leads to a very awkward transition when it’s time to make the offer.
Throughout the webinar, you need to teach your audience what to want.
When you get to the offer, your product or service will be exactly what they want!
After the Webinar
37. Offer a Call to Action
Make sure the audience knows what next step you want them to take.
For example, if you want them to download a whitepaper or sign up for a free trial, let them know and provide links in the webinar and in the follow-up email.
If you offer something to attendees, make sure it:
- Is clear and easy to understand.
- Is easy to use and either time or money.
- Is a great deal that they can’t get anywhere else. The price should be a no-brainer.
- Solves problems.
- Is only available during the webinar promotion. If they wait, they’ll miss out completely.
- Is easy to buy.
38. Ask Attendees to Decide on the Next Webinar Topic
How can you keep attendees coming back for more?
Simple – let them decide what the next webinar will be about.
You can run a poll, ask them on social media, or tell them during the webinar to comment on what they want to see next.
This also makes it easier for you to come up with engaging topics.
Giving your attendees a voice and letting them influence the direction of your webinar strategy also builds brand loyalty.
39. Survey Your Attendees
Want to know whether your attendees loved or hated your webinar?
Ask attendees to take a brief survey so they can provide feedback that will help you improve moving forward.
40. Send People More Content
After the event, follow up with participants by sending them additional content. This includes:
- People who registered but didn’t show up.
- Attendees who left the webinar early.
- People who converted.
For example, you could email the participants a full recap blog post, SlideShare of the webinar, or link to the video recording.
Remember: Your audience likes to consume content in many different formats, so repurposing content isn’t about being lazy or just rehashing the same old thing. It is about creating strong, standalone pieces of content that your audience will find useful.
41. Track Your Results
Some webinar metrics you can track include:
- How many people registered?
- What were the top sources of registrations?
- How many people actually attended?
- How much time did they spend watching the webinar?
Webinars are a highly effective way to communicate in-depth information in an engaging format.
The first step is deciding what your goals are and then choosing a platform and format that meets those needs.
Creating a webinar takes a lot of planning, coordination, and follow-through – from settling on a specified topic, finding an awesome speaker, to preparing for the live event.
The topics, content, and the speakers should provide true value to your target audience.
For an effective webinar you should always:
- Listen to your audience.
- Play to your current strengths.
- Practice for a polished presentation.
- Follow up.
- Repurpose your content.
- Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to What Works
- Podcasting Starter Guide: 7 Tips for a Successful Podcast
- The 5 Ws (& 1 H) of Content Marketing
All screenshots taken by the author, August 2020