Webinar 101: Top Tips for Running an Effective Webinar
We now live in a webinar world.
The format was always popular, but the COVID-19 pandemic really amped up the usefulness of this sales and marketing tool. In a world where almost everything is online, webinars are now key.
But that doesn’t mean everyone is doing them well.
Make a Worthwhile Pitch
If your only inspiration for doing a webinar is because everyone else is, please don’t do a webinar. You should always have a purpose for using any marketing tactic.
It’s the business equivalent of “if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?” Of course not. And you won’t make a boring, directionless webinar either.
The key to running an effective webinar is to make it as valuable as possible for all of the attendees. Webinars ask a major investment of your audience, so it better be a hell of a pitch. The value of watching cannot be purely a sales opportunity.
At 9 Clouds, we look at the market and the industries we are serving, and ask ourselves how our experience can solve our audience’s biggest challenges. Do this for your own business before diving headfirst into webinar creation.
Preparation Makes All the Difference
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a webinar. We know because we’ve done most of them! 😉
The biggest difference between a bad webinar and a good one is the amount of preparation you put into it. These are the most valuable things we’ve learned from years of hosting webinars.
Choose the Right Speakers
Everyone does not have the skills to be a webinar host.
That’s not meant to make anyone feel bad. Public speaking just doesn’t come naturally to all people. And that’s perfectly fine, but don’t ask the wallflowers on your team to run your next webinar.
Finding the right speaker is a fine balance between subject matter expertise and comfort on camera. Sometimes this person isn’t on your team, but that opens up a great opportunity to do a partnered webinar with someone who provides the value you need for your audience.
Draft an Outline
It might feel like you’re back in a high school English class, but you have to start with a solid outline. This not only gives you talking points for your actual presentation, but also creates the perfect flow for your webinar slides.
We highly recommend slides for a visual element. Most people learn better with a reference guide on screen to keep them moving, and slides give you an opportunity to highlight your main points.
You can also use examples to back up your points, including things like video content and polls. Everything in your slide deck should help educate viewers and keep them engaged.
The visual aspect is especially important if you plan to host your webinar on your website after it is done (more on that later).
Run a Dress Rehearsal
You’ll need to prepare more than the content.
Webinars also require a lot of technical preparation. Even as a digital agency run by tech-savvy millennials, we’ve hit some set-up snags that make for embarrassing moments on a live presentation.
As I said, we’re hoping you can learn from our mistakes!
Before you plan to go live on your webinar, make sure you do the following:
- Hold a practice webinar. Think of it as a dress rehearsal for the main event. It’ll allow you to get comfortable with the technology and the content before you go live.
- Prepare your physical space. Right now, everyone’s working from home. This gives you a little wiggle room on your background during the webinar, but don’t set up with a pile of laundry on the couch behind you. Make sure your space is clean and free of distractions (this includes keeping dogs, spouses and kids out of your space, too).
- Engage a team member to provide support. When we do webinars, we always have an off-screen team member managing the chat and answering questions. It’s a lot to tackle when you’re running a webinar solo, so it’s ideal to find someone to provide back-up.
- Be ready for technology to fail. Wifi always seems to go out at the worst possible moment, so keep your telephone nearby in case you need to call in as a presenter. Your back-up team member can keep your slides moving if you lose a connection. And always keep that cell phone and computer charger close – there’s nothing worse than your computer dying mid-webinar!
Tell Your Audience
There’s no point in doing all of the work to come up with an inspired webinar idea with a thoughtful outline and engaging slides if you don’t tell anyone to come.
When we’re hosting a webinar for 9 Clouds, we create a specific landing page for sign-ups, send an email to our audience, follow-up with a second email closer to the date, and share the information on our social media pages. We ask our partners to do the same on any co-hosted webinars.
After the fact, we host the webinar recordings on our website for those who couldn’t attend day-of or find out about the webinar after it already happened.
As we said earlier, webinars are a valuable opportunity to serve your audience, but they’re also a major time investment, so use them to their full potential.
If this is the first time you’re considering integrating webinars in your marketing and sales strategy, it can seem overwhelming. As if you didn’t have enough to worry about with a pandemic, right?
Fortunately, we’re here to help.
Get one-on-one advice about your specific needs from the 9 Clouds team.
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