Did you know that more than 60% of marketers are now using webinars as a content marketing tactic? And, there’s a good reason for that. Webinars are a cost-effective alternative to hosting an in-person event, can establish you as an industry leader, can help increase lead generation, and will give your organization a ton of new content.
If you haven’t taken advantage of the power of webinars, and want to gain a competitive advantage, here are 13 techniques you’ll need to conduct an amazing webinar.
1. Engage Your Audience Before, During, and After
Just like any other piece of content that you’ve created, you need to keep your audience engaged throughout the journey. Get your audience amped and generate some buzz by publishing blog posts, using relevant hashtags on Twitter, running a contest, or giving away a prize leading up to the event.
When the webinar does start, you still need to keep everyone engaged by welcoming them to event, having an opening slide with an interesting image, and asking questions throughout the webinar.
When the event is over, continue engagement by following up with participants and sending them additional content. For example, you could email the participants a slide-share of the webinar or a recording.
2. Focus on a Specific Topic
Probably the most challenging part of creating a webinar is narrowing it down to a specific topic. If you’re an online marketer, you may think that hosting a webinar strictly on content marketing is sound enough. After all, you’re an expert and you have plenty of knowledge to share.
The problem is that content marketing is a broad and vague topic to discuss in just one webinar. Instead, settle on one area of content marketing, such as link building tactics. This will not only help you plan the webinar more efficiently, it will also prevent you going off topic.
3. Have an Awesome Speaker…and Moderator
If you’re hosting a webinar. you should be an expert in the area you’re discussing. Just because you’re a car enthusiast doesn’t necessarily mean you are qualified to host a webinar on changing an engine. That’s extremely advanced for someone who doesn’t have the training and experience. You could, however, invite your mechanic to be a speaker since that individual has the expertise.
Additionally, the speaker, or speakers, should be comfortable in front of the camera. Even if your speaker is the most-talented individual in their area of knowledge doesn’t mean that they have the charisma or energy to be in-front of others. You don’t want your audience to fall asleep, do you?
You also want to have a host or moderator. This individual will ensure the flow of the presentation by keeping the speaker stays on topic and interacting with the guest. They should also welcome the audience, introduce the guest, ask the speaker questions, and wrap-up the event.
4. Choose the Best Webinar Format
You’ve settled on a topic and have an amazing speaker line-up. Now you have to decide on the best format for your webinar. Depending on the availability of the speaker or speakers, you can try out one of the following webinar formats:
- Presentation: This is one of the most common formats where a presenter shares a PowerPoint presentation and gives a rehearsed speech. It’s easy to create, but is also less engaging.
- Interview: You can interview an expert either together on-screen, over the phone, or with a screen share. This format is engaging, but make sure you’re familiar with the guest in case they go off-script.
- Q&A: This is similar to an interview, except the questions are coming from the audience, which will boost engagement. You can have guests submit questions beforehand so there’s enough content to fill the allotted time scheduled for the webinar.
- Panel: Just like a live a panel, this is where you have several speakers discuss a certain topic. Panels are great for offering different perspectives and opinions from experts. Just make sure the panel members get along.
- Product demo: If you have a product or service, this is a great format to increase leads and reach customers who are interested in making a purchase since you’re showcasing your product.
5. Have the Right Webinar Platform
There are plenty of software options to conduct your webinar. Here are seven recommendations to get you started.
- GoToWebinar: From the creators of GoToMeeting, this software includes HD recording, polls, surveys, and attendee registration. Pricing starts at $89 per month for up to 100 participants. Disclosure: This is what SEJ uses for ThinkTank webinars, but we weren’t paid or perked to include them in this list.
- Google Hangouts: This free software from Google contains screen share capabilities and the ability to automatically record and publish onto YouTube. You can also stream the webinar onto your website or YouTube channel.
- Webinars OnAir: If you use Google Hangouts for your webinars, you can add this software to charge participants for joining. Plans start at $19.97 for 25 attendees.
- Cisco WebEx: This Cisco product gives you the power to send out branded invites, display 5 panelists at a time, track registration, chat with attendees, and add polls. Plans start at $24 per month for 8 participants.
- Adobe Connect: For meetings, plans run at $45/month, for webinars, however, you’ll have to spend $1250 per year. Adobe has loaded this software with features like high-quality recording, streaming integration, invitation management, archiving, collaboration with presenters, and mobile connectivity.
- BrightTALK: What makes this software interesting is it can ensure your webinar finds the right community. There’s also Salesforce integration. Pricing starts at $850 per month.
When selecting a webinar platform, you have to take into consideration your budget, which platform has the tools that fit you and your audience’s needs, and how many maximum attendees are allowed.
6. Write a Solid Script
Just like any other type of live event, whether it’s a talk show or podcast, you must have a script in place for your webinar. It’s essentially your road map to keep you on course. 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 challenged if it isn’t (at least slightly) scripted.
7. Create a Top Notch Slide Deck
Don’t bore your audience with dull slides. Keep them interested by creating visually appealing slides that relate to your webinar. When constructing your slides, try to stick to one color palette and include fascinating data and images that reflect your points.
One important thing to remember when creating your slides is that this is content that is supporting and strengthening your presentation. Your slides are not the same thing as your script. To avoid repetition, you can work on your script and slide deck at the same time.
This was touched upon earlier, by you need to create buzz for your webinar by promoting it. Creating content, such as a blog post or case study, is a great way to get started. You can also email your existing email subscribers with a link to register for the webinar and plug the webinar on your social media channels. Also consider partnerships or co-presenting with a fellow industry leader. You can be certain that the partner is going to promote the webinar to their audience as well.
One of the most effective ways to promote your webinar is by creating a dedicated hashtag. Keep the hashtag original to ensure tweets are your webinar and not someone else’s. Another benefit of having a dedicated hashtag is that you can use it to engage and interact with attendees during the webinar. Speaking of Twitter, don’t forget to include the Twitter handles of your speaker or partners! You can do this on the slides as well as mentioning them during the live event.
9. Use Multiple Types of Media
Instead of just relying on slides and video of the presenter speaking, utilize 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’s interest perked.
10. Make Sure the Event is Interactive
One of the most components of every successful webinar is that you keep your audience in mind throughout the webinar – from promoting the webinar to following up with attendees. To keep your audience engaged and interested, make your webinar interactive. You can achieve this by inserting clickable links, inviting participants to ask questions, or receiving from feedback through surveys or polls.
11. Enlist an Assistant
Planning and conducting a webinar takes a lot of hard work. In fact, it can get downright stressful. To help alleviate that stress, recruit someone, such as a co-worker, to be your assistant. This individual will be someone who is working behind the scenes to make sure that the webinar runs smoothly. For example, what if attendees can’t see your slide deck in their browsers? Having someone behind the scenes can work on resolving the issue. They can also moderate comments and manage polls or surveys.
Bonus Tip: This individual should have the technical skills to handle and correct any hiccups you may encounter.
12. Prep, Then Prep Again
Your webinar has to be thoroughly planned and organized for it to go off without a hitch. Prior to hitting record, be sure you have done the following:
- Do a dry run to make sure all equipment is working properly, your slides are all in order, and your speakers know what they’re doing.
- Read the bios of your speakers so you can introduce them without shuffling through papers or stumbling.
- Have your laptop fully charged, keep backup batteries on-hand, and close applications that can slow down your computer.
- Make sure your work space is organized and quiet. You don’t want to anxiously search for a piece of information or having your dog bark frantically during the webinar.
- If you have a landline, use that instead of a smartphone or mic. They’re less likely to cut out and are more reliable.
13. Leave Your Audience Wanting More
Conclude your webinar by sharing best practices, actionable advice, or a CTA so your audience knows what to do next. You also should provide contact information for your organization and your speakers. And, don’t forget to send out the attendees a recap of the webinar by sending them a link to a SlideShare presentation. On top of a recap of the event, you could also ask for their feedback with a brief survey, additional materials, or rewards like special offers.
Final Words of Advice
Conducting a webinar takes a lot of time and work – from settling on a specified topic, finding an awesome speaker, to preparing for the live event. If you follow the tips listed above, you’ll increase your chances in hosting a successful webinar that your audience will love.
With that in mind, keep these final pieces of advice in mind as well:
- Send out reminders. Email participants one day before the webinar and even one hour before it starts.
- Keep time zones in mind. If you live in L.A. starting a webinar at 6 PM may be too late for attendees living on the East Coast.
- Create a landing page. Don’t forget to create a landing page for your webinar where participants can register or discover information like the date and time of the webinar.
- Be early. Show-up 10 to 15 minutes early to make sure that you’re prepared and that all of your gear is working.
- Start on-time. Don’t waste the time of your attendees. If your webinar starts at 1 PM, make sure that you’re all ready to go at 1 PM.
- Turn off gadgets and applications. Prevent any distractions by turning off your phone or messengers.
- Realize that things will go wrong. No matter how prepared you are, always remember that there are things that are out of your hands – what if your block loses electricity? As long as you’re prepared, you can prevent most hiccups, but things can, and will, go wrong.
Want more information on successfully conducting a webinar?
Register for the next informative SEJ ThinkTank webinar Webinar 101: Using Webinars to Share, Educate, and Build Your Brand Wednesday, October 14th 1 PM Eastern.
Presented by SEJ’s Senior Editor Danielle Antosz and moderated by SEJ founder Loren Baker, the webinar will discuss the importance of webinars, the dos and don’ts of webinar production, and tips like driving more registrations.
Register for the webinar now by clicking below.