Small businesses and non-profits are looking to grow their customer/constituent base, deepen their relationships with supporters and prospects, and influence people to take action.
Online events such as webinars present an ideal opportunity because they allow you to share your presentation, video, and screen and provide audio commentary. You can interact with your audience and enable attendees to connect and at-tend your event from anywhere in the world. With this in mind, we have compiled 40 tips that address each stage of the webinar process and help ensure success.
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Planning and Preparing
- Determine what they want: 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. “How To Plan Webinars That Work,” James O’Brien.
- Consider working with a partner: Sometimes the process of getting sufficient numbers of people to your broadcast can be a daunting one. Whatever your situation may be, the easiest way to get the viewers you need is by partnering with an individual or organization that already has a relationship with your target audience. “A Little Known Secret to Webinar Success,” Eric Brown.
- Decide who will present: 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. “How to Plan Webinars that Work,” James O’Brien.
- Pick an interesting topic: Create a solid theme and topic that will be interesting to attendees, and drive the message home. “First Time Producing a Webinar?” Lauren Tuculescu.
- Put together a solid slide presentation: In addition to creating a wonderful talk, spend as much as 20 hours building a simple and interesting slide deck to accompany it. Make sure they work well together. “10 Tips for Effective and Engaging Webinars,” Mark Di Vincenzo.
- Your slides should be visually appealing: While it is important that you provide engaging and relevant content through your narrative during the presentation in addition to the slides, be sure to have an interesting and visually appealing slide presentation. “Creating a Professional Webinar,” Jennifer Gregory.
- Identify a problem and a solution: Throughout your presentation, you should be hitting on hot buttons that identify common problems or frustrations. Grab their attention by making them feel like you’re talking directly to them, describing what they thought were unique challenges. Once they’re on the hook, offer up a solution: your products or services! “How To Sell With Webinars,” Angela Stringfellow.
- Give yourself enough promotional lead time: You’ll need some time to attract an audience to your webinar. The industry-recommended standard is about two to three weeks. Any longer than that and you’ll run the risk of having participants forget about the event. Any shorter and you may not be able to attract a large enough audience. “6 Tips for Hosting Your First Webinar,” Kate McFarlin.
- Don’t forget to send out reminders: Two days before the webinar, email a reminder with the specifics: date, time, URL, pass code and audio dial-in number. Note if the participants must download specific software or use a certain browser. Include a contact phone number in case of technical difficulties. Prevent last-minute chaos by familiariz- ing yourself with the webinar system well before the event. Plan to log on early the day of the webinar to make sure everything is working well. “9 Tips for Better Webinars,” Julie Bawden-Davis.
- Make sure everyone has what they need: When working with a large online group, providing the attendees with necessary documents prior to the meeting is essential, unless breaking or bad news — like corporate down- sizing or mergers — is being shared. If it’s simply a sales plan or projections, send the slide presentation or accompanying files ahead of time. This will help attendees come prepared, with questions already formulated, which will help with interaction. “Five Ways to Prevent Boring Webinars,” Angela Stringfellow.
Marketing and Promoting
- Remember what you want: Before you start marketing your online presentation, make sure you know why you’re doing it, what you’re trying to accomplish, and what you hope attendees will get out of it. “10 Tips for Effective and Engaging Webinars,” Mark Di Vincenzo.
- Choose your audience wisely: Invite the right people. If 100 people attend your webinar, but very few of them are the target audience, then your webinar will not achieve the goal you set. “How to Use Webinars for Lead Generation,” Jennifer Gregory.
- Decide how your landing page will look: Start by considering what is important to your audience. What are they looking to learn? What secrets might they miss if they don’t attend your event? The landing page is where people are sent when they want to find out more. That page has to do a lot of work for you. It has to have the basic details of what the webinar is, and when it is going to take place. A picture of somebody is a very good way to gain interest. Have a very clear set of bullet points on the value and/or benefit to the attendees. “How to Put On a Killer Webinar,” Ken Molay
- Find those with a common interest: Think about the individuals or groups that already have relationships with the people you want to reach and come up with ways to partner where everyone can walk away a winner. “A Little Known Secret to Webinar Success,” Eric Brown.
- Flap your wings and Tweet: Although Twitter restricts posts to just 140 characters at a time, it can still be effective for tweeting links to your seminar’s Web page. To take full advantage of Twitter, learn to exploit the power of hashtags. Twitter hashtags are code words (preceded by the “#” symbol) that designate your posts for keyword searches. For instance, if you include the hashtag “#webinar,” in your tweet, anyone searching for that hashtag will see search results that include your tweet. “Using Social Media to Promote Your Webinar,” Robert Hadley.
- You’ve got mail: Email is still effective, as long as it does not appear annoying or “spammy.” Having a special guest speaker for your upcoming webinar is a great way to encourage registrations. An influen- tial speaker will generate buzz, enticing and exciting potential attendees. If chosen appropriately, this guest speaker aspect is a promotion in itself. “Using Webinars to Promote Your Business on a Tight Budget,” Lauren Tuculescu.
- Decide who will facilitate your event: A webinar facilitator can be of assistance in terms of advising you on ways that you can have a high marketing reach by reaching out to groups, organizations and other contacts to draw individuals into the webinar, “5 Tips for Using a Webinar Facilitator to Generate Leads and Customers,” Heather Butts.
- Enlist the help of your colleagues: If you have brand ambassadors — key employees who can spread your message — make sure they post the webinar link in their status updates and share it in any relevant groups they belong to. Different groups have different rules about promotions, so it’s a good idea to either consult the rules or email the moderator for guidance. “Using Social Media to Promote Your Webinar,” Robert Hadley.
- Select the right ticket price for your audience: Before deciding on the price for your webinar, spend some time researching what other people are charging for similar webinars in your industry. “Tips to Monetize your Webinar,” Jennifer Gregory.
- Use registration as a marketing tool: As part of the registration process, have one required registration question for future marketing purposes (example: How did you find out about this webinar?). “7 Tips for a Successful, Pitfall-Free, Lead Generating Webinar,” Heather Butts.
Presenting and Engaging
- Testing, Testing, 1,2,3: Before starting any online event, it is always a good idea to test out your equipment and make sure it runs properly a day or two before you go live. “Everything is Working Correctly Right? Are you Sure?” Bob Menzies.
- Three words – practice, practice, practice: One of the secrets to keeping the audience’s attention is to appear confident, knowledgeable and professional. You should also make a conscious effort to eliminate annoying speech habits, such as the dreaded “um” and “eh” disease. “The Secrets of Engaging Webinars,” Jennifer Gregory.
- Eliminate distractions: Before the webinar begins make sure that you eliminate all distractions that will be audible or visible to your audience, such as unnecessary computer programs running on the screen and personal items in the background. Make sure that you keep kids, dogs and co-workers out of the room where you are hosting the presentation. “Common Webinar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them,” Jennifer Gregory.
- Look like you know what you’re doing: If you are using video, be sure to dress professionally, just as you would if you were in the front of a conference room. Check that everything visible on the webinar presents the image that you are aiming for. “Creating a Professional Webinar,” Jennifer Gregory.
- Don’t forget to hit record: Be sure to record the webinar and edit the recording after the presentation. “How to Use Webinars to Generate More Sales,” Tom Treanor.
- Make sure everything is set: At the start of the meeting, make sure that all participants can see the screen or slide and that the audio is working properly. Quickly review how to use features such as chat. Lay the ground rules for asking questions and completing any polls. “9 Tips for Better Webinars,” Julie Bawden-Davis.
- There’s a poll for that: Starting at the beginning and throughout the online presentation, encourage interaction with attendees through on-line polls, quizzes and by opening up the floor for questions. Offer incentives for participation, such as raffle prizes. “8 More Tips for Effective and Engaging Webinars,” Julie Bawden-Davis.
- Your body language says it all: Make sure your body language is good – posture, smile, and use of your hands while speaking. Don’t pace or have other distracting movements. Also, make sure your tone is the right volume and pace. You want your audience to hear you and be able to understand what you are saying, especially when dealing with video conferencing technology. “Tips and Guidelines for an Effective Video Presentation,” Anna Brown.
- The results are in: Conduct polls and share the results as soon as they’re in. Polls are a great way to involve everyone in the online meeting, and they can be used to transition into or out of a topic. “10 Tips for Effective and Engaging Webinars,” Mark Di Vincenzo.
- Failure is not an option, but it happens: If audio fails for more than 30 seconds, have a slide available to alert the audience as to what is going on – but don’t apologize excessively – technical issues can happen. “7 Tips for a Successful, Pitfall-Free, Lead Generating Webinar,” Heather Butts.
Following up and Converting
- Share the recording: After the webinar, post the recorded version on your website for people who were unable to attend and for attendees to re-watch. You can also send links to the webinar to potential new customers to share the information presented and build interest in future webinars. Be sure to encourage attendees to share the link with co-workers and other professional contacts. “My Webinar is Over, Now What?” Jennifer Gregory.
- Remember to thank your attendees: Webinar attendees want something in return for their attention and participation. So after the webinar ends, email a thank-you note to attendees, and include some tips related to the topic. “10 Tips for Effective and Engaging Webinars,” Mark Di Vincenzo.
- More follow up may be necessary: You’ll want to set up a series, maybe 2-3 emails, that include not only the recording but also any other content that would help your attendees better understand the material that was presented and make that decision to buy your product or sign up to your service. “Post-Webinar Email Funnel,” Jay Moore.
- Follow up and/or respond quickly: If somebody has questions or says “I would like more information,” during the webinar and you get back to them that same afternoon, that is very powerful. “How To Put On A Killer Webinar,” Ken Molay.
- Decide who will handle answers to questions: Assign someone to coordinate the questions and answers that are raised during the meeting and to get them to the participants as soon as possible. There is nothing more frustrating than being told that the answers to the questions presented will be emailed shortly, then nothing comes. Following through with requests and sometimes demands, will build trust among the participants and they will be more willing to participate again. “5 Ways to Prevent Boring Webinars,” Angela Stringfellow.
- Post webinar presents marketing opportunities: Always follow up after the webinar. Decide how you are going to use your webinar recording for marketing purposes. “7 More Tips for a Successful, Pitfall-Free, Lead Generating Webinar,” Heather Butts.
- Find out who attended your presentation: Once the webinar is over, you’ll want to go over the registration/ attendee rates. How many people registered and how many people actually attended? From there it is imperative that you follow up with the individuals that registered but did not attend, ideally with a recording of the webinar very soon after the live event. “5 Tips for Using a Webinar Facilitator to Generate Leads and Customers,” Heather Butts.
- Reach out to your prospects: Your post-webinar emails should encourage prospects to start a trial of your product or service. These emails and calls to action can consistently generate new orders that likely would have slipped through the cracks without proper follow up. “Post-Webinar Email Funnel,” Jay Moore.
- Survey says: An important step of following up is to send a survey to all attendees with specific questions about your webinar. “My Webinar is Over, Now What?” Jennifer Gregory.
- Take time to reflect on your performance: After the webinar is over, take some time to recap what worked and what didn’t work to help improve for next time. “Tips to Monetize Your Webinars,” Jennifer Gregory.
Implement these 40 tips to help get more out of your online events and webinars, andbe sure to use a reliable webinar service that is built for small business, like AnyMeeting. To learn more about AnyMeeting and select a plan that’s right for you, visit http://www.anymeeting.com.