By James O’Brien
If you plan it right, they will come … and they will come back again and again.
Pulling together a webinar that not only impresses your audience but also creates a buzz — word of mouth that brings new attendees to your next event — is an avenue toward broadening the reach of your brand. However, it’s not always intuitive what must be done to make a webinar work.
In this post, you’ll read about some key steps to getting your online offering into ship-shape condition. You’ll note some mistakes to avoid, and some ideas to carry forward after your next webinar knocks it out of the park.
The Right Topic and Marketing Synchronicity: Whether you’re the sole proprietor of a business or part of a company that’s moving into the market with online offerings in mind, associate the content of your webinar with what it is that you do best. Poll your audience and find out what they’d like to hear about. Discovering where your clientele already understands your expertise to lie will help you to craft a webinar that plays to their perceptions of existing strengths. Especially if you work in a team environment, don’t plan your webinar topics without the input of the sales and marketing staff. Prompting different departments to invest in the success of the webinar is a sure way to boost its visibility via ongoing outreach campaigns.
Solo or Team?: From the start of your webinar planning, you need to think about what format your online experience might take. Will it be just you, as the expert, explaining a principle, or are you thinking that it would be best to bring in additional presenters — people who can broaden the field of knowledge? Note that you’ll need to administrate a group if it’s the latter. So, plan and build all the slides and audio material from every presenter into a complete package, early on. You’ll want plenty of time for the dry run that we will address in a moment. Additionally, if your webinar is going to have more than one moving part in this way, consider bringing in assistance. With a second (or third) technically proficient person on hand, you’ll have a better shot at controlling damage if something goes awry with one participant’s video or audio during the webcast.
Planning and Managing Slides: Use charts, tables and a bit of video or illustration to not only augment what you might be saying at any given point, but also think about introductions and emphases. For example, you’ll want a slide that sets up a new presenter — giving their name, contact information, and a blurb about their realm of expertise. Have a ”first-stop” slide in place before the webinar actually begins, one that confirms that audience members have come to the right place and that reminds them of the start time.
The Dry Run: With your concept, team and audio/visual components in place, do a dry run. This means a check of every component of your work, not just the speaking script and slides. You want to be sure that the technology you’re working with — the webinar platform, the microphones, all the “moving” parts — are doing what they’re supposed to. When you’ve done a complete and hitch-free dry run, you’ll also know the running time of the webinar. That leads to the last tip in this list …
Timing: Webinars that run longer than two hours tend to push their audience’s limits. More ambitious constructs should probably get broken down into separate sessions. Unless your anticipated audience has a whole day at their disposal, consider putting these second and third sessions on different days.
Finally, once you’ve hosted your successful webinar, don’t blow the follow-through. Reach out to attendees with a gracious thank-you e-mail, and make sure you invite feedback. Note an upcoming event or idea, and remember to ask if there’s a webinar topic they’d like to see in the future. That’s how you win a sustainable audience; one that reaches out to their own associates and increases attendance.