Webinars provide an interactive way to reach customers and prospects, share insights, and potentially grow your business. But like any other type of content, a webinar will only drive results if it’s compelling – it needs to offer value, be engaging, and run as smoothly as possible.
Webinars typically work well for specific formats, including:
- Detailed examinations of niche topics
- Panel discussions of timely, news-based issues in your industry
- Thorough, example-driven how-to tutorials
- Adaptations of presentations from conference speaking engagements
- Interviews with industry thought leaders
There’s a lot that goes into creating a memorable webinar – probably more than most people realise. This guide isn’t exhaustive, but it gives you some key steps to get going.
Pick a subject
The best approach is to go niche over the general. Typically those who attend webinars are doing so because they’re looking for more information or insights on something specific that isn’t covered in-depth in other places. For example, a broad topic would be ‘content marketing’ – a niche topic might be ‘content marketing for self-employed architects on Sydney’s North Shore’. A niche topic will also make it easier to focus and minimise the chance of going off on tangents.
Choose your host
Webinars need to be hosted by skilled, knowledgeable subject matter experts. Aside from your presenter knowing their topic inside and out, they should also ideally be good on-camera, confident and relaxed. You might have the best subject matter expert in the world, but this isn’t any good if they freeze up when presenting.
Choose your format
The complexity of your chosen subject and the availability of suitably qualified speakers should inform your choice of format. You may opt for a single presenter, a Q&A-style interview, or perhaps even a panel discussion with guests and a moderator.
Just because you’ve chosen a webinar with great content and knowledgeable speakers doesn’t mean people will be able to find it. You need to get the word out in every way possible. Look at what people are searching for on Google, look at the questions being asked on Quora, and check out the content that’s performing well online with BuzzSumo. Publicise your webinar across social channels and email lists, link to it in your email signature and see if you can get any influencers behind it to amplify reach.
Build a stellar slide deck
PowerPoint presentations more often than not are incredibly dry and boring. They’re frequently packed with so much information that they become difficult to read and overwhelming. Your deck should strengthen and emphasise your key points – it should not be a script you read from. Back up your points with as much data and evidence as possible, and make it entertaining (a little humour goes a long way).
Write an inspiring script
Without a script, your webinar is almost certainly doomed to fail. Even the most skilled webinar producers and hosts rely on scripts, because talking at length, even on something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, is hard work. Your script is like a compass – it’ll get you back on track if you start getting lost. It will help you stay on topic, and make keeping track of time much easier.
Choose the right platform
There’s no shortage of webinar tools out there, but you need one that meets your requirements – feature and budget-wise.
GoToWebinar is one of the most popular webinar tools. It is reliable, easy to use, and works beautifully on all devices.
GTW has a ‘pass the control’ feature, which allows you to give your keyboard and mouse control to any participant in the meeting. You can also share desktop applications, screen, presentations, and files.
Google Hangouts is probably the easiest to use webinar tool available. It is fast, free, and anyone with a Google account can use it.
Apart from the usual voice and video calling, it allows multiple users to join a Hangout. Users can share files, chat, share computer screens, and more.
Cisco’s WebEx provides cost-effective enterprise video conferencing that is dependable, secure, and professional. Deliver a polished, interactive presentation with video, screen sharing, Q&A, polling and chat.
Start with a free account (up to 25 users)
Another powerful contender in the webinar platform arena is Zoom. Zoom allows you to host highly interactive video conferences and meetings with HD quality audio and video.
You can share mobile screens from your phone or tablet, and also split the screen in two to show presenters and the shared screen at the same time.
Zoom has a free plan with limited features.
Test your campaign
Webinars can be an excellent lead generation tool, but only if you set them up properly and test your campaign tracking parameters ahead of time. You want to capture your valuable marketing data, and use it to make more informed decisions.
Prep your studio space
Host your webinar in a quiet area with minimal distractions. Make sure it’s clean and clutter free. Keep a notepad and pen handy, and have a big bottle of water nearby (your mouth can get pretty dry from talking, especially if you’re a bit nervous).
Do a dry run
There’s a 99.9% chance that something will go wrong during your webinar. You cannot avoid this no matter how much you prepare. Doing a dry run may help you identify potential disasters ahead of your event, but it’ll also test how you respond when things go tits up. It’ll also help your confidence.There’s a 99.9% chance that something will go wrong during your webinar. Doing a dry run may help you identify potential disasters ahead of your event.Click To Tweet
A great webinar takes considerable time and effort to produce, so if you’re looking for a surefire marketing tactic that’s quick and easy, a webinar probably isn’t for you.
Webinars aren’t just an investment of your own time – they’re also an investment from your audience. Regardless of length, people are taking time out of their day to listen to/watch you. The goal is to make it worth their while by delivering some stellar material that they will find useful.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.