Whether you're speaking to a live audience of 10 or 10,000 or delivering a talk online, there's something about standing before a crowd of people that makes many of our knees shake with fear.
But, with a bit of practice, one often becomes more comfortable and skilled over time.
In the case of a webinar, the responsibilities of the host are more than just getting over stage fright. A lot goes into the process, from ideation to delivering the session on a webinar platform.
What is a webinar?
A webinar is an interactive online seminar that enables participants worldwide to connect virtually and exchange information and ideas through the Internet. These seminars use specialized webinar software to host and engage attendees in a collaborative and immersive learning environment.
The amount of collaboration and preparation that goes into a webinar is equivalent, if not more, than that of a live event. Below, we'll go over each stage to help you easily create and host a webinar.
How do webinars work?
Webinars leverage digital technology to connect presenters and participants in a virtual setting. They provide an interactive and immersive customer experience, allowing individuals from different locations to come together for educational or informational purposes.
Most webinars typically involve a host or presenter who delivers a presentation or leads a discussion on a specific topic. Participants join the webinar through an online platform that allows them to listen to the presenter, view visual aids such as slides and engage through chat or polls. They can also be recorded and made available for on-demand viewing after the live session, which extends their reach and makes them accessible to a broader audience.
How to host a webinar
Thorough planning and execution are vital to hosting a successful webinar. While many little processes are involved, here's a glimpse at what is in store:
Begin by clearly defining your objectives and align your planning process accordingly.
Consider your target audience and tailor your content to their needs.
Choose a reliable webinar platform that offers the features you require.
Engage with your audience throughout the webinar.
Follow up with attendees post the webinar to nurture customer relations and gather feedback.
Evaluate and improve your webinar strategy for future events.
Things to do before the webinar
Creating ideas and executing them for a webinar is often the most exciting part of the process. But before launching any marketing campaign or activity, marketers must step back and think strategically.
Every step taken for your webinar should be done with purpose and intention. Below are some things you should be thinking about when it comes to building your webinar strategy.
Build a team
Pulling off a one-person webinar has been done before, and it’ll happen again. But ask anyone who’s experienced this, and they’ll tell you it’s quite the feat. So, if you have a team, take advantage of their help.
Even just one person to catch your mistakes, help you promote, and monitor the technology will take a little off the load on your shoulders. Nobody said you had to do this on your own.
Identify your target audience
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 questions can help you narrow down your ideal persona(s) for your webinar and aid in the remainder of your planning and strategy.
Determine the purpose
Before you start with any of the technicalities, ask yourself: "What are we hoping to accomplish with this webinar?"
The answers could be any of the following:
Build brand awareness
Create evergreen content for your customers
Grow your email list
Generate high-quality leads
Whatever your goal, keeping it consistent and clear from the very start will help you better prepare for your webinar, which will ultimately help you meet your goal. You can also set key performance indicators from these goals to help you report on your webinar's success.
Build a branding strategy
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 social listening skills and adhering to your brand's style guide together are efforts that should be made to increase your brand's vividness in your audience's mind.
Choose an appropriate topic
Sometimes, the topic for your webinar will be prominent. Other times, hashing one, you’ll take a little more brainstorming and collaboration. A webinar could be the perfect platform to present a topic and answer the question thoroughly, informally, and interactively.
But 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.
Questions to ask yourself while deciding on a topic:
What are some frequently asked questions you hear from your audience?
Is there a question that your CMO is constantly being asked?
Are customers talking to your customer service representatives about the exact solution repeatedly?
What’s a topic people in your industry can’t stop talking about?
Are there any new developments in your industry that you could provide your take on?
If you run a blog, identify the article 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 if it had remained in article format.
Marketers can’t keep on top of everything their customers have to say. Luckily, another department has a wealth of insight into your business’s customers: sales. Sales representatives chat with your customers all day (and sometimes all night). They know what your customers love, their pain points, and how to move them down the funnel. Aligning sales and marketing isn’t always easy.
Still, a webinar is a perfect way to grab a coffee and some insight to make your webinar as informative and helpful to your audience as possible.
Decide on a format
No two webinars are alike. The format of your webinar depends on the topic you choose and the personal preferences 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:
Single presenter. One person shares their expert insight and tips and is responsible for answering the audience's questions.
Two presenters. Having two presenters can turn the topic into more of a discussion and engage the audience further by providing multiple perspectives and opinions on the same topic.
Panel presentation. Three or more presenters would be considered a panel, where several experts would host the webinar and discuss the topic.
Interview. Instead of presenting information from slides, bringing in a thought leader as a guest is a great way to expand your audience and boost your authority. You're a step ahead if you're connected to someone well-known in the industry.
Product demo. If the topic of your webinar is your product, your format is chosen for you. A product demo or tutorial-formatted webinar will work best in this case.
Choose your webinar platform
A wide variety of webinar software is available for hosts to choose from for their first webinar. No webinar software is perfect, but each has capabilities that make it unique from its competitors. Be sure to read descriptions and both positive and negative reviews thoroughly before making a decision.
Things to consider while choosing a webinar software:
Price of the product
Ease of use for both you and your audience
Number of attendees allowed
Number of presenters allowed
Ability to capture leads
Availability of analytics
Ability to record
Additional features available
What previous users have said about the product
Create your landing page
You must create a landing page once you’ve decided on and confirmed your topic, format, and guests. 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 to register.
Your landing page should include things like:
The date and time of your webinar
The anticipated length of your webinar
A summary of what attendees can expect to learn or take away
Information about the speaker(s)
A registration button or form
Including these elements on your landing page gives viewers a well-rounded idea of what they can expect from your online event.
When the word “webinar” comes to mind, the image that generates is likely a computer screen. But 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 and choosing a platform that supports mobile broadcasting are ways to ensure inclusivity for your audience, no matter the device they’re tuning in on.
If you are having trouble creating one on your own, you can always deploy a landing page builder to help you create visually appealing and engaging pages quickly.
Build a form for lead capture
One of the elements of your landing page will be a lead capture 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 much 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.
To avoid crossing this line, require only the most essential information like a first name and email address from those interested in your webinar to build more trust. Over time, qualified leads will be the ones to supply you with additional information, such as a phone number.
Build a script
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.
Make sure that you:
Introduce yourself. There’s no better way to introduce yourself and any additional hosts than at the beginning of the presentation. Ensure you’re providing names and short bios of both yourself and any other guests you may have, including professional backgrounds and relevant achievements. It may feel a little funny to say some of these things about yourself, but remember that while it might feel like bragging to you, it’s positioning yourself as an authority to your audience.
Tell a story. Now isn’t the time to hoard your creativity. Storytelling is a terrific way to begin to build trust with your audience. If you’re beginning a demo, tell the story of how the product came to be. If you’re sharing a new idea, start at the beginning. The acknowledgment of realizing a problem and then sharing how you overcame it will make you a trustworthy source for advice.
Provide an agenda. Everyone likes to know what’s to come, and a webinar script should include a bit about your plan for the webinar. Break down what attendees will learn by section, share what information they can expect, and split it into sections. Just like the back cover of a book, this gives your audience a sneak peek into what’s coming.
Provide an incentive. Your audience is listening to you for an extended period. You won’t hear from them again if they walk away with nothing. It’s hard to know what sort of information each individual will find valuable, but rewarding them with something unique is something that everyone loves. Ensure that at the end of the webinar, you’ll provide your audience with a unique takeaway, whether an exclusive discount on a product, a free ebook, or a one-on-one session.
Promote your webinar
Just because you’ve created 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 anyone will know they’re making a guest appearance.
And just because you’ve designed a landing page doesn’t mean anyone will 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, and comarketing – whichever methods you choose, ensure your promotion strategy is solid before you move forward.
Do a dry run
Just like you would for any other presentation, running through your webinar before the big day is a must; this is an excellent 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 taking the time to listen to you.
In the case of a webinar, unfortunately, a practice may never make perfect. No matter how often you rehearse your presentation or how many hours you spend navigating the software and its features, there will always be a chance that something will go 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.
Document the planning process
If you’re doing a webinar for the first time, and it goes well, you won’t want to forget the steps you took toward success. In the future, having a documented process for your efforts 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.
Things to do during the webinar
It’s the big day! You’ve done all you can to prepare for this, but you should still do some things during your webinar to ensure your audience will keep returning for more.
Choose a webinar host
A webinar host plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth execution of a webinar. The host's primary responsibilities include initiating the event, introducing speakers, and facilitating a live Q&A session at the conclusion. When selecting a webinar host, finding someone with the skills and qualities necessary to engage and captivate the audience is essential.
When it comes to your webinar, punctuality is vital. Treat it with the same importance as a formal event, and ensure you show up on time, ready to begin at the scheduled start time.
Arriving at least 15 minutes early allows you to verify that all technical aspects, such as your microphone, internet connection, and webcam, are in proper working order. This step is especially crucial if you have participants from different time zones who may have a limited window to attend.
Additionally, it's essential to stay within your allocated time. If you advertised a specific duration, strive to conclude within that timeframe to respect your audience's schedules. However, if you foresee running over, give your audience a courteous heads-up so they can plan accordingly.
Being punctual and considerate creates a smooth and professional webinar experience that leaves a positive impression on your attendees.
Check your set-up
Your lighting and background require meticulous examination! They possess the power to create a professional and visually captivating ambiance, enhancing the essence of your webinar. Be cautious, as too bright or dim lighting may render you a spectral apparition or a shadowy enigma, obscuring your presence and diminishing your impact on the virtual stage.
Furthermore, do not allow a cluttered or distracting background to steal the focus of your attendees, in a case where your message gets lost amidst the chaos. Dedicate yourself to the noble pursuit of finding optimal lighting, whether by acquiring a ring light or other luminous instruments, and create a serene space where nothing distracts from your wisdom.
Investing just a little effort in this realm will unleash a tidal wave of maximum impact, enchanting your audience with a professional spectacle they won't soon forget.
Record your webinar
Recording a webinar is a valuable resource for future reference, which enables your audience to revisit essential details, concepts, and insights at their convenience. This ensures that they can reinforce their understanding and fill any gaps in knowledge.
Additionally, by recording the webinar, you allow your audience to watch it at their own pace, pausing and rewinding as needed to grasp complex information or take thorough notes fully.
Furthermore, if unforeseen circumstances prevent them from attending the live session, having a recording lets them catch up on the content they missed, ensuring they don't miss out on valuable information.
Just because the live webinar is over doesn’t mean the content suddenly becomes meaningless. Keeping a recorded webinar version alive on a landing page makes for a piece of evergreen content that can even be worked into your regular social media schedule.
How to record a webinar
Most software options provide a way to do this, whether manually hitting the “start” and “stop” recording buttons or recording your webinar from start to finish automatically. Check with your software provider to ensure you’re recording correctly, and run a test before the day of.
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 easy, but professionals warn against this time and time again.
Sharing authority with your audience might sound nice, 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 can stand while you’re presenting your webinar, do it.
Engage with your audience
If you were in the audience of your 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 audience from feeling that way, too.
Even if the topic of your webinar revolves around education, use this as a chance to educate and entertain your audience. This webinar shouldn’t be a meeting that could’ve been an email – it’s a chance for you to be genuine and creative and connect with your audience firsthand. Future customers could be on the other side of the screen, so make it count.
How to engage with an audience
Begin with a story
Leave room for Q&A
Provide interesting statistics
Maintain a conversational tone
Break the third wall
Leave room for questions
No matter the content or length of your presentation, it’s always safe to assume that at least one audience member will have a question. Leave room for questions purposefully in your presentation.
Depending on your presentation and its content, this could look different. 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.
Things to do after the webinar
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 will want to do a few things after your presentation reaches its final slide.
Update your landing page
Integrating your CRM software with your webinar software will be helpful for this step. Now is a great time to note who registered, attended, and flaked out.
Then, ensure you have correctly tagged all your webinar leads with the event. If your webinar results in a closed deal, you should be able to prove it. If you plan to share your webinar after the event, now is the time to upload the recording to your landing page.
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.
Send out a follow-up email
When you send your post-event email approximately 24 hours after your event, you can reach 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.
Entering your registrants into your CRM and tagging them with your event is 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 note the amount of on-demand viewings from your landing page. Regularly measuring these metrics ensures you accurately track conversion rates and make appropriate adjustments.
Repurpose your content
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.
Be the star of the show
Hosting a webinar is more than just knowing your presentation; it’s also about knowing your audience, technology, and metrics. It’s essential to try to fulfill each of the steps in this article to ensure you’re doing an all-around excellent job for your business and your audience.
Hosting a webinar is just the beginning of your lead generation journey. To unlock the potential of leads generated, you must master the art of nurturing them. Learn more about lead nurturing and take your business to new heights.
This article was originally published in 2020. It has been updated with new information and examples.
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Embrace the future of customer engagement with cutting-edge webinar software.
Daniella Alscher is a Brand Designer 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)
Leave a mark!
Embrace the future of customer engagement with cutting-edge webinar software.
How to Host a Webinar That'll Keep Them Coming Back for MoreSpeaking in your webinar isn’t the challenging part – it’s the preparation. Learn more about hosting webinars and what to do while the clock runs.https://learn.g2.com/how-to-create-and-host-a-webinarhttps://learn.g2.com/hubfs/G2CM_FI597_Learn_Article_Images_%5BHosting_a_webinar%5D_V1b.png2023-05-24 13:00:00Z
Daniella AlscherDaniella Alscher is a Brand Designer 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)https://learn.g2.com/author/daniella-alscherhttps://learn.g2.com/hubfs/_Logos/Daniella%20AlscherUpdated.jpeghttps://www.linkedin.com/in/daniella-alscher/
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