Successful webinars or “How I learned to stop worrying and love the mute button”
Webinars are great for connecting with existing members or prospects. It can be a simple PowerPoint or a multifaceted Prezi with videos and live webcam feeds. I’ve co-paneled and hosted several webinars in conjunction with our client associations and put together some pointers that I believe will help make your next webinar a success.
1) Determine a topic that would be worth taking time away from work to watch.
Just because you can host a webinar on any issue or topic doesn’t mean you should. If you simply put together a few slides and read from a script to promote yourself, you won’t find many attendees. A great webinar will cover an important issue that many deal with. It should be educational, builds off the introductory slides, and benefits those attending. Don’t sell hammers – sell hanging pictures.
A dry run is always recommended, especially if you’re co-paneling with someone else. Get name pronunciations down, pacing, who controls the slides, etc. It makes the webinar run far smoother.
3) Sign-on 20-30 minutes early.
Even with practice, there’s always the chance that technical difficulties or issues will arise. (As they usually do.) Plan on being signed on and ready to go at least 20 minutes in advance so you can work out the bugs and be ready for go-time.
4) Typed questions only.
A chat window allows attendees to ask questions throughout the webinar that you can return to at the end. If you have another person with you, they can answer questions while you continue with the presentation
That said, restrict it to typed questions only. An open mic results in attendees who aren’t familiar with the mute button, and I have listened to someone eat during a webinar. It’s not pleasant.
5) Always have a follow-up plan.
After the webinar, debrief on how it went and what the next steps are. You have a list of those who registered and attended — make sure you follow up. It can be a quick thank you email, or link to references made during the presentation, or even a recording of the webinar for future playback.