They’re a great convenience for busy learners or sales prospects who can’t attend flesh and blood conferences or devote time to training during office hours. But designing and delivering a compelling webinar that hits all the main points and doesn’t put viewers to sleep takes planning, a careful use of technology, and some of the best practices we’ll be looking at in this article.
Consider Your Goals
Whether you’re pitching a new product, walking learners through a new procedure, or providing knowledge for corporate or institutional training, these considerations will influence both the flow and form of your webinar content, and the ways in which you promote it to your potential audience.
Your viewers will have expectations of the benefits they’ll get from attending your webinar – so take care to fulfil those hopes and not disappoint!
Consider Your Content
Rather than being general and hazy in the hopes of covering more ground, settle on a specific topic which you can explore in depth. Subjects related to or following on from this can be the focus of your subsequent webinars – which viewers will be more likely to attend if you present your first one in a clear and comprehensive manner.
The subject matter you’re covering will influence the method you use for delivery – be it annotated slides, a narrated video, an interview with a subject matter expert, or an illustrated lecture.
Structure Your Story
Your road from beginning to end should cover all your main points, allow for interaction and query from the audience, and might look something like this:
- First, invite viewers to type something into their chat boxes to make sure that they can see and hear you – and to get some interaction going.
- Introduce yourself and your subject – and give some idea of why you or your featured speakers are ideal to cover this topic.
- Deliver your information or advice in a well-crafted presentation that also explains why this information is of value.
- Cover as much ground as you can in the time available, and leave viewers with the suggestion that if they want to learn more they can follow up with you – and/or attend your next webinar.
- Allow some time at the end of your presentation for questions, comment, or discussion.
If there are skills or knowledge that you or your organisation are lacking, it’s possible to turn to subject matter experts (SMEs) for help. This might involve consultation in preparing the webinar, or actually hiring an expert for the day to present the material.
Businesses or other organisations related to your subject area may be approached for their input. Their involvement may also contribute to the event by extending its reach to their own markets or user base.
Consider The Technology
Your budget and target audience will determine the kind of platform you choose. Commercial webinar platforms range from smaller-scale deployments for audiences of 1,000 or less to larger set-ups with enhanced interactive features and integrated content management systems.
At the instructor level, the little details matter. Headset microphones or a landline telephone are preferable to laptops, as sound reproduction is clearer and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone-ins may be disrupted by slow or sporadic internet connections.
Have spare batteries for everything, and a floor manager/technician/moderator to assist your main speaker.
Do A Test Run
With all of your subject matter and hardware in place, do at least one rehearsal to make sure that everything works and fits together as planned.
Issue Compelling Invitations
Your lead up to the webinar should begin about a week beforehand, with email invitations to your target list of attendees, and online promotion. Subject lines should be punchy and specific, while message content should include a brief description of the webinar topic, a few key takeaways that viewers should expect, and a brief introduction of the speakers. The event may be the subject of its own post on your blog, website, or social media presence, or a sidebar to a related topic.
Gather Intel From Registration
The strong call to action issued on your invitation emails and online promotions (Only a Few Places Left! Register NOW! etc.) should be accompanied by a registration form that asks attendees for at least a name, email address, and phone number. These will provide you with some idea of anticipated numbers, and yield information on the make-up of your audience.
Including a space on your registration form for one key question on your webinar topic will assist you in creating content to address common issues and concerns. And the addresses and phone numbers you gather may be used to send a reminder message or text a day or two before the event.
Chapters Rather Than Full Verse
Though you’ll have a captive audience for anything from an hour to about 90 minutes, it’s best to break your content up into shorter chapters. This aids attention spans and knowledge retention. It also allows for occasional breaks to ask questions, comment, or simply get a cup of coffee.
Encourage Repeat Viewing
A link to a recording of the webinar should be made available to attendees at the end of the session, so that they can review the material on their own time and get back to you with queries, if necessary. Links can also be included in your follow-up emails to attendees.
Re-use Your Content
Extracts from your presentation may be posted on your blog, website, and social media as a supplement to your thought leadership articles, promotional efforts, or conversations on related topics.
Benefit From The Benefits
Webinars give you the opportunity to extend information and training to large numbers of viewers, but at an affordable cost to you. If the event is facilitated by expert speakers or partner organisations, you can extend your reach to their audience, as well.
Using chat tools and interaction to allow questioning and comments in real time gives the whole experience a personal touch that other methods of content delivery might lack. Being able to answer queries and objections (presuming you know the answers, of course!) allows you to present an air of authority and expertise that people can actually see.
Creating and presenting a great webinar takes skill – and practice. You may not get it right the first time, and technical glitches can occur at any time. But your delivery will improve as you move from one presentation to the next.