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10 Tips for Hosting an Engaging Webinar
Adobe Stock / BullRun
Taylor Tobin
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As the world finds itself in the throes of worldwide shutdowns and quarantines, remote possibilities for seminars, speaking engagements and business conferences are now more relevant and important than ever before. All of these public events can be digitized in the form of webinars or live-streaming virtual meetings that can be accessed online. 

However, if you’ve never hosted a webinar before (or even considered using one for professional purposes), it can feel like a daunting endeavor. That’s why we’re bringing you some actionable tips for projects of this nature, including the software you’ll need, the best way to spread the word to colleagues https://fairygodboss.com/career-topics/virtual-presentationand the public in general, and whether you have a shot at monetizing your webinars. 

Is a webinar a good idea for your industry and potential content?

Whether you’re using a webinar to facilitate in-house meetings and conversations for your company or you’re trying to reach potential clients and consumers with your content, you’ll need to consider the best angles of approach and whether your particular business niche is suited to this form of communication.

Webinars often prove especially beneficial in the following contexts:

  • When you’re delivering a presentation to staff members in different company locations. If all employees who need to receive the same information can log into a streaming webinar to watch you present, then that will save you from having to do a multi-stop lecture circuit, thus improving efficiency.
  • If you’re using webinars as marketing tools for your own business or the services of your department. Because webinars allow for wide access, they can be very useful forms of advertisement, as long as they’re operated correctly. 
  • If you’re a creative thinker who wants to focus on building engaging content. The key to a successful webinar is the quality of its presentation, and they can therefore provide right-brained managers and employees an ideal outlet for their imaginative visual and communication-based ideas. 

10 tips for an effective webinar

1. Identify and thoroughly research your intended audience.

A webinar is, above all else, a public performance. Therefore, it’s essential to tailor the material and the presentation style to suit the audience that you have in mind. If you’re delivering your webinar to members of your work department located at a different office site, take some time to figure out what you (and the company) want these employees to take away from the event, both in terms of information and in terms of actionable directives. If you’re trying to sell a product to a likely clientele, make an effort to hone in on what your service or device can offer potential buyers that they can’t get elsewhere.

2. Invest time and effort into creating the strongest content possible.

As with any sales pitch or presentation model, a webinar relies on the quality of its content. If you put up lackluster graphics and a less-than-convincing case for your product, service or work initiative, then your webinar won’t yield positive results. When putting together your notes and your visual aids, think about what you would want to see and hear if you were in the position of your audience.

3. Make sure that you have a “thesis statement.”

Meandering webinars run into very similar problems as meandering podcasts: people will eventually tune out and possibly miss your important points. That’s why it’s helpful to build your webinar around a “thesis”, or a central idea/message. 

4. Write a script.

Circling back to the “meandering webinars are a problem” concept, an easy way to prevent an unfocused presentation involves writing a script for yourself. Of course, there’s no need to hew entirely to written statements, but even a fundamental outline will help you stay streamlined and will rescue you from the potential consequences of messy, high-stakes improv. 

5. Choose a reputable and efficient platform for your broadcast.

If your webinar only addresses colleagues, then it’s possible that your company will have you deliver it using a proprietary platform or intranet (depending on how high-tech your organization is). But if you’re using a webinar for the purposes of your own business or side-hustle, then you’ll benefit from shopping around for an appropriate streaming site at an acceptable price point. Popular programs include ClickMeeting, GoToWebinar and Adobe Connect

6. Don’t rely on PowerPoint.

Think about it: when was the last time that a PowerPoint presentation truly captured your attention and sparked your interest during an in-person work meeting? If you’re struggling to come up with an answer, then you’ve discovered the reason why PowerPoints should not and cannot comprise your entire webinar content. Think of other engaging ways to visually convey your message or prove the effectiveness of your product. Maybe it’s a series of video clips, maybe it’s a real-time demonstration, maybe it’s a combination of the two with some charts and tables mixed in. Use your imagination!

7. Pay attention to sound quality.

When it comes to a streaming presentation, very few snafus prove quite as disastrous as poor sound quality. If your microphone causes muffled diction, volume issues or any other problems that obscure the clarity of your content, then you’ll find yourself immediately losing viewership. If you’re using your computer’s camera to stream your webinar, test it out a few times to ensure its consistency, and if it’s not up to the task, consider investing in an external webcam specifically chosen for this purpose.

8. Make a plan for promotion.

Of course, if you’re creating your webinar at the request of your manager for internal training purposes, then you’ll have a built-in audience. But if you want to use it to market your own business services, then you’ll need to come up with a thorough plan to get the word out there. Sending announcement emails to your mailing list of existing customers will set you off on the right path, but don’t underestimate the value of social media here. Take to Twitter, Instagram and TikTok and let your followers know where to stream your presentation.

9. If you’re using your webinar for marketing purposes, have a solid strategy for campaign tracking.

Making money off of a webinar largely depends on whether or not the presentation can inspire potential clients to sign up for your service or purchase your product. For that reason, it helps to put a tracking system in place to figure out how many views result in cashflow. Tracking parameters like Google Click Identifier assist with this task, and they can be calibrated to tally up clicks, views and purchases over multiple time zones. 

10. Accept the fact that things will go wrong, but prepare to the best of your ability.

Webinars typically take the form of live broadcasts, which inevitably leads to unpredictable mishaps. The best way to head off disruptions involves thorough preparation, using the tactics we advised above. But keeping an open mind and refraining from beating yourself up over small technical issues and errors will help you maintain focus and deliver a successful webinar, even with Murphy’s Law in effect.

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