Whether you’re speaking to an audience of 10 or 10,000, there’s something about standing before a crowd of people that makes a lot of our knees shake with fear.
With a little practice, speakers for live, public events often become more comfortable and skilled over time. But what if your event is taking place online?
In the case of a webinar, or a web seminar, the responsibilities of the host are more than just getting over stage fright. The amount of collaboration and preparation that goes into a webinar is equivalent, if not more than the amount that goes into a live event.
Below, we’ll go over how to create a webinar and host one from beginning to end.
Coming up with ideas and executing them for a webinar is often the most exciting part of the process.
But before any marketing campaign or activity is launched, marketers need to take a step back and think strategically. Each and every step taken for your webinar should be done with purpose and intention.
Below are some of the things that you should be thinking about when it comes to your own webinar strategy.
Before you even try to come up with a topic, an enormous part of your strategy revolves around your audience.
What kind of people do you want to know about and attend your webinar? What kind of questions do they have? What problems might they need help solving? What do you want them to walk away with?
Answering these types of questions can help you narrow down your ideal persona(s) for your webinar and aid in the remainder of your planning and strategy.
Before you start with any of the technicalities, ask yourself and your team: “What are we hoping to accomplish with this webinar?”
The answers could be any of the following:
Whatever your goal may be, keeping it consistent and clear from the very start will help you better prepare your webinar that will ultimately help you meet your goal. From these goals, you can also set some key performance indicators to help you report back on how successful your webinar was.
Webinars aren’t just a chance to educate or inform your audience – they’re also an opportunity to strengthen your brand.
Consistent branding throughout your webinar and the experience surrounding it is crucial. Using your logo, brand font, and adhering to your brand’s style guide altogether are efforts that should be made to increase the vividness of your brand in the mind of your audience.
When the word “webinar” comes to mind, the image that generates is likely a computer screen.
of webinar audience members are watching from their mobile device.
Even though this number is an average, it’s always better to be safe and design your presentation with mobile in mind.
Things like enlarging your text size and visuals on your slides as well as choosing a platform that supports mobile broadcasting are some ways that you can ensure inclusivity for your audience, no matter the device they’re tuning in on.
Arguably, the hour that you’re speaking during your webinar isn’t the most difficult part of the process – it’s the preparation. While lengthy and sometimes frustrating, the more preparation you and your team do for your webinar, the smoother it will go.
Below are some of the things that hosts should be thinking about in order to prepare for broadcasting day.
Pulling off a one-man webinar has been done before, and it’ll happen again. But ask anyone who’s experienced this, and they’ll tell you that it’s quite the feat.
If you have a team at your disposal, take advantage of their help. Even just one person to catch your mistakes, help you promote, and monitor the technology is going to take a little bit off of the load on your shoulders.
Nobody said you had to do this on your own.
Sometimes, the topic for your webinar will be obvious. Other times, it’ll take a little more brainstorming and collaboration to hash one out.
Deciding on a topic means holding yourself to it, and making sure it’s specific enough that you won’t stray from it but not so specific that your webinar lasts 10 minutes.
Below are some questions to ask yourself to help you get a clearer idea for your topic.
Is there a question that your CMO is always being asked? Are customers talking to your customer service representatives about the same solution over and over?
A webinar could be the perfect platform to present around that topic and answer the question in a thorough, informative, and interactive manner.
Whichever it is, that article is one that your audience finds some value in. Why not repurpose that content and turn it into a webinar?
Doing this also gives audience members an easy way to ask questions about the topic that might have been more difficult to do if it had remained in article format.
Are there any new developments in your industry that you could provide your own take on? Trends in your industry are trending for a reason: the topic is popular and sparks conversation.
For example, if you’re a UX expert and noticed that a popular website just got a massive redesign treatment, a webinar could be the perfect way to break it down for your audience.
Marketers can’t keep on top of everything their customers have to say. Luckily, there’s another department that has a wealth of insight about your business’s customers: sales.
All day (and sometimes all night), sales representatives are chatting with your customers. They know what your customers love, what their pain points are, and how to move them down the funnel.
Aligning sales and marketing isn’t always easy, but a webinar is the perfect way to grab a coffee and some insight to make your webinar as informative and helpful to your audience as possible.
No two webinars are alike. The format of your webinar depends on the topic you choose as well as the personal preferences that you, your team, and your business have for how you’d like to be portrayed to an audience.
Here are some of the more common options:
Once you’ve decided on and confirmed your topic, format, and guests, you’ll need to create a landing page. Doing this will give people a place to go when they want to learn more about your webinar and will also be the place where people can submit their information in order to register.
Your landing page should include things like:
Including all of these elements on your landing page gives the viewer a well-rounded idea of what they can expect from your online event.
One of the elements of your landing page will be a lead form, on which visitors can submit their information in exchange for a seat at your webinar. The information provided will determine whether or not they’re a lead worth passing on to your sales team.
Forms are often customizable, allowing administrators to alter the information required for a form to be filled out.
There’s a thin line between having a great amount of information to pass on to sales and asking too much of your visitors. Asking for too much information could drive visitors away, while not asking for enough information won’t give sales anything to work with.
In order to avoid crossing this line, require only the most essential information like a first name and email address from those interested in your webinar in order to build more trust. Over time, qualified leads will be the ones to supply you with additional information such as a phone number.
Just because you’ve come up with some great content doesn’t mean anyone will sign on to hear it.
Just because you have a well-known thought leader doesn’t mean that anyone will know that they’re making a guest appearance. And just because you’ve designed a landing page doesn’t mean that anyone will actually land on it.
It’s unlikely that your webinar will have an ideally-sized audience without an extra promotion effort surrounding it.
In regards to organic search, how searchable is your title? How will you publicize your webinar? Email campaigns, paid ads, constant social media shoutouts, comarketing – whichever methods you choose, make sure your promotion strategy is solid before you move forward.
of webinar registrations are driven through email campaigns.
There are a wide variety of webinar software available for hosts to choose from for their first webinar. When you’re trying to decide which software to invest in, make sure you’re considering things like:
No webinar software is perfect, but each one has its own capabilities that make it unique from its competitors. Be sure to read descriptions and reviews thoroughly before making a decision.
No matter how well you think you know your presentation, having a script can only help you in the long run. Not only will it give you and your audience a frame of what to expect in your presentation, but it will also keep you on track.
Creating a slide deck isn’t something that every webinar may need, but a script isn’t optional.
Make sure that you’re:
Just like you would for any other presentation, running through your webinar before the big day is a must. This is a great opportunity for any bumps in the road to be smoothed out: software confusion, technical issues, script changes, and the like are all hurdles that could be lept over in advance instead of the day of.
You don’t have to be a tech whiz to know how to set up a webinar, but the more familiar you are with your equipment and presentation, the more respect you’ll earn from those who are taking the time out of their day to listen to you.
In the case of a webinar, unfortunately, practice may never make perfect. No matter how many times you rehearse your presentation or how many hours you spend navigating the software and its features, there will always be a chance that something goes wrong.
In this stage, the best you can do is prepare for those situations while also accepting that there could always be a chance that issues could occur.
If you’re doing a webinar for the first time, and it goes well, you’re not going to want to forget the steps you took towards success. In the future, having a documented process for the steps you took to prepare for your first webinar will help you with the second one, and so on.
Creating this document into a broken down checklist in a project management tool for each phase of preparation will help you stay organized and help future broadcasters in your business follow a standardized process that can always be edited to perfection.
It’s the big day! You’ve done all you can to prepare for this, but there are still some things that you should be doing during your webinar to ensure that your audience will keep coming back for more.
In your mind’s eye, imagine yourself in the audience at a live event. Look at the presenter: are they sitting down? Probably not.
Sitting down while you’re doing your webinar may seem like an easy decision to make, but professionals warn against this time and time again. There are two reasons you should be standing during your presentation.
The first is for your own sake. The study above finds that standing up allows for clearer thinking and more focused attention. Standing during a presentation will help you stay focused on your slides and your script as well as answer questions in a meaningful and intentional way.
The second reason is for your audience. Whether you imagined that person in a classroom or on stage, it’s very likely that that person was physically above you, therefore emitting a sense of authority.
Sharing authority with your audience might sound like a nice thing to do, but in a webinar, people have likely registered to listen, not to participate. Failing to stand during a presentation immediately levels the presenter with the audience, making it more difficult for the speaker to hold the floor.
In other words, if you have the means to stand while you’re presenting your webinar, do it.
If you were in the audience of your own webinar, would you walk away feeling educated? Enlightened? Engaged? Or would you walk away feeling bored, confused, and resentful?
Hopefully not the latter option, and you should be doing everything you can to prevent your own audience from feeling that way, too.
Even if the topic of your webinar revolves around education, use this as a chance to both educate and entertain your audience. This can be done mindfully in several different ways:
This webinar shouldn’t be a meeting that could’ve been an email – it’s a chance for you to be genuine, creative, and connect with your audience, firsthand. Future customers could be on the other side of the screen, so make your presentation count.
No matter the content or length of your presentation, it’s always safe to assume that at least one member of your audience will have a question. Leave room for questions purposefully in your presentation.
This could look different depending on your presentation and its content: some hosts may want to leave room for questions after every section of their presentation, while others might want to run through their entire presentation and leave room for questions at the end.
The work isn’t done after you’ve thanked your audience for attending and signed off. If you’re trying to make a great webinar even better, you’re going to want to do a few things after your presentation reaches its final slide.
Integrating your CRM software with your webinar software is going to come in handy for this step. Now is a great time to keep note of who registered, who attended, and who flaked out.
Then, make sure you have correctly tagged all of your webinar leads with the event. If your webinar results in a closed deal, you should be able to prove it.
If you're planning on sharing your webinar after the event, now is the time to upload the recording to your landing page.
Note: Not sure how to record a webinar? Most software options provide a way to do this, whether it be manually hitting “start” and “stop” recording buttons, or choosing to automatically record your webinar from start to finish. Check with your software provider to make sure you’re recording correctly, and run a test before the day of.
Your landing page’s copy should be updated to reflect that the event has passed and registration is closed. Instead, this page will now host the event on-demand.
When you send your post-event email, approximately 24 hours after your event, you’ll be able to hit everyone who registered, including those who missed the event.
In the age of personalization, it’s crucial that at least two separate emails be drafted: one for those who did attend and one for those who did not. This way, you can thank the attendees for their participation and provide those who missed your event with a recording or transcript.
Your webinar never truly ends. Below are some of the steps you can take to keep it alive.
Just because the live webinar is over doesn’t mean that the content suddenly becomes meaningless. Keeping a recorded version of the webinar alive on a landing page makes for a piece of evergreen content that can even be worked into your regular social media schedule.
Entering your registrants into your CRM and tagging them with your event is only the beginning of the tracking process.
Go back often and take any sales qualified leads, conversions, and increased pipeline that resulted from the webinar into account. In addition, schedule a regular time to make note of the amount of on-demand viewings from your landing page.
Regularly measuring these metrics ensures that you’re accurately tracking things like conversion rate and making adjustments that are appropriate.
Don’t stop at just posting a recording of your webinar on a landing page – each and every piece of your webinar can be repurposed into other assets.
Transcripts, blog posts, and messaging resources can all be pulled from just one webinar. In addition, your webinar may be able to provide you with things like checklists, tip sheets, and even infographics if you’re willing to take the time to get creative.
The best measure of success for a webinar isn’t just the immediate impact – webinars have a much longer lifespan than the initial recording time. Spend some time seeing how you can work with the materials you’ve created for yourself to create even more assets for your audience to find value in.
Hosting a webinar is about more than just knowing your presentation; it’s about knowing your audience, technology, and metrics, too.
There’s more that goes into the preparation of the webinar than the webinar itself, and it’s important to truly fulfill each of the steps in this article in order to make sure that you’re doing an all-around great job for both your business and your audience.Looking for examples of awesome webinars? Look no further.
Daniella Alscher is a content marketer for G2. When she's not reading or writing, she's spending time with her dog, watching a true crime documentary on Netflix, or trying to learn something completely new. (she/her/hers)
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