Planning a Successful Webinar

Webinars have become much more popular and prominent these days to generate qualified sales leads, conduct education and training programs, launch new products and generate revenue.

A succesful webinar, however, requires planning. Below you will find a webinar planning timeline, a sample planning task checklist, event day webinar structure and a final event day checklist. These tools and checklists will take the guess work out of hosting webinars and assist you in:

  • Identifying who does what, when, why and how;
  • Taking a webinar from first ideas to follow-up;
  • Building a simple project timeline that allows for lots of practice, editing and interruptions from the real world; and
  • Looking like a big player in the field, even if you’re a one-person shop

WEBINAR PLANNING TIMELINE

8 WEEKS PRIOR TO THE EVENT: PLAN THE EVENT

  • Select webinar topic
  • Select moderator and speakers(s)
  • Confirm Time and Date of session(s)
  • Choose technical vendor
  • Delegate technical tasks

6 WEEKS PRIOR TO THE EVENT: DESIGN THE EVENT

  • Determine the entertainment value of the event
  • Determine need for professional moderator
  • Determine the content and outline for the presentation
  • Decide if session attendance should be limited
  • Decide whether the session should be billable and then decide amount
  • Determine methods to invite participants
  • Develop registration procedures
  • Develop invitation creative content
  • Determine how materials will be made available to participants and others
  • Select evaluation method and tools

Determine the type of interaction desired with the audience

  • Application sharing
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Annotations
  • Chat functionality
  • Polling used for follow-up, to guide the direction of the presentation, or simply to engage the attendees

Prepare the event introduction

  • Decide who will deliver the technical introduction
  • Decide who will deliver the content introduction
  • Prepare the presenter introductions including pictures and biographies

Prepare Question Management Strategy

  • Decide whether questions will be operator assisted (recommended in most situations) or an open forum with lines open (this can be dangerous and awkward)
  • Decide whether or not to save questions for the end or address questions throughout
  • Write canned questions in case live questions are not asked

Determine the audio requirements

  • Define technical assistance needed during webinar set-up
  • Select audio method - audiocast or teleconference
  • Determine if the event will be recorded

4 WEEKS PRIOR TO THE EVENT: MARKET THE EVENT

Concentrate on Event Marketing

  • Find target audience
  • Assemble lists – targeted opt-in and in-house
  • Determine which channels will most likely generate ideal webinar participants. Think about partners, industry newsletters, lists, print and online publications, etc.

Develop and Prepare Communication Plan

  • Write customer contact content and schedule (email, newsletters, journals, newspa- pers, magazines, direct mail, press releases, telemarketing, etc.)
  • Decide which registration content information to collect (name, and email address required)
  • Write registration confirmation notice content
  • Create reminders – send out multiple reminders, including an email 1 hour before the event
  • Create registrant and attendee follow-up materials

Develop Landing Registration Pages

  • Complete title, subtitle and brief description of session
  • Include:
    • Logo
    • Time and Date
  • Complete and test landing page and registration sign up process, edit as needed
  • Assign unique URLs for marketing tracking

Create and Send Email Invitations

  • Test both HTML and Text versions
  • Create link to registration page
  • Send invitations

ONE WEEK PRIOR TO THE EVENT: PREPARE THE EVENT

Complete a prep session and dry run of the event with the presenters

  • Schedule speaker training times
  • Upload presentations and position polling slides and supporting materials
  • Choose delivery strategy—practice transitions and handoffs
  • Practice virtual body language with annotation tools, polling questions and voice fluctuation

Send out additional email and login reminders

  • One week before
  • A day before
  • An hour before the event

DAY OF THE EVENT: HOST THE EVENT

  • Distribute joining instructions to appropriate support staff
  • Presenters dial in to teleconference 15 minutes prior to call
  • Presenters log into web conference 15 minutes prior to presentation
  • Conduct pre-conference review
  • Manage speaker rights
  • Test Q&A chats
  • Test audio for clarity and volume
  • Review script and call flow
  • Discuss order of presentations with multiple speakers
  • Discuss how Q&A will be conducted (chat w/ audio or chat only)
  • Watch the roster as people sign in – start when ready – if late make announcement
  • Manage Helpdesk for attendees with last minute questions
  • Make sure attendees are muted and presenters are not—do not rely on attendees to mute their own phones
  • Introduce event and basic housekeeping issues including FAQs, asking questions, handling technical difficulties, etc...
  • Conduct Event Intro, including presenter biographies and pictures
  • Begin presentation
  • Conduct Q&A
  • Post survey, questionnaire or polls at end of conference—ask attendees what could be done better, possible topics for future webinars
  • Close the call

ONE HOUR TO ONE WEEK AFTER THE EVENT: FOLLOWING-UP ON THE EVENT

  • Perform post event analysis
  • Review event polls and questions
  • Review attendance and compare to registrants
  • Review reports - assign follow-up responsibility
  • Email follow up to attendees
  • Email follow up to non-attendees
  • Post and distribute recordings of the event (consider fees per viewing) – send participants access to the recording and presentation and market the Archives Library to generate more interest and further revenue from the viewings.

WEBINAR PLANNING TASKS

The following checklist will help you track the completion of tasks necessary for planning a successful webinar. Some tasks may be completed concurrently.

Task Due Date Date Complete Owner
Select webinar topic
Select moderator and speaker(s)
Confirm Time and Date of session(s)
Choose technical vendor
Delegate technical tasks
Designate professional moderator
Determine the content and outline for the presentation
Decide if session attendance should be limited
Decide whether the session should be billable and then decide amount
Determine methods to invite participants
Develop registration procedures
Develop invitation creative content
Determine how materials will be made available to participants and others
Select evaluation method and tools
Determine the type of interaction desired with the audience
Decide who will deliver the technical introduction
Decide who will deliver the content introduction
Prepare the presenter introductions including pictures and biographies
Decide whether questions will be operator assisted of an open forum
Decide whether or not to save questions for the end of address questions throughout
Write canned questions in case live questions are not asked
Define technical assistance needed during webinar set-up
Determine if the event will be recorded
Assemble contact lists
Write customer contact content and schedule
Decide which registration content information to collect
Write registration confirmation notice content
Create reminders
Create registrant and attendee follow-up
Develop landing registration pages
Complete and test landing page and registration sign up process, edit as needed
Assign unique URLs for marketing tracking
Create email invitations
Test both HTML and Text versions
Create link to registration page
Send invitations
Schedule speaker training times
Upload presentations and position polling slides and supporting materials
Choose delivery strategy
Practice virtual body language
Send out email and login reminders-one week before
Send out email and login reminders- a day before
Send out email and login reminders-an hour before the event
Distribute joining instructions to appropriate support staff
Presenters dial in to teleconference 15 minutes prior to call
Presenters log into web conference 15 minutes prior to presentation
Conduct pre-conference review
Watch the roster as people sign in
Manage help desk
Make sure attendees are muted and presenters are not
Introduce event and basic housekeeping issues
Conduct event intro
Begin presentation
Conduct Q&A
Post survey, questionnaire or polls at end of conference
Close the call
Perform post event analysis
Review event polls and questions
Review attendance and compare to registrants
Review reports-assign follow-up responsibility
Email follow up to attendees
Email follow up to non-attendees
Post and distribute recordings of the event

WEBINAR PLANNING TOOL

Webinar Name _____________________________________________________________

State Objectives ___________________________________________________________

Presenter(s) _______________________________________________________________

Introduction and Housekeeping (3 minutes total)

  • Welcome, names of presenters
  • Topic, expected outcomes, logistics including how long they’ll be on
  • Introduce technology, test chatting, polling,etc.

Agenda and Polling/Assement (2 minutes)

  • Introduce exact agenda for webinar
  • Ask a polling or assessment question

Content (35 minutes)

  • Use an inductive approach
  • What conclusions should the audience draw?
  • Why is the webinar important to audience?
  • Fulfill promise to the audience for quality information
  • Quick recap, ask for questions

Q&A (10-12 minutes) Encourage questions. This provides a chance to remove objections, go deeper into detail and explain anything that could be confusing or get in the way of moving the sale forward.

  • Start with planted questions to get the ball rolling
  • Tie all answers to desired outcomes

Wrap-Up and Call to Action Don’t try to wing it or try to close too fast and forget to specifically tell the audience what the next step is.

  • Summarize the main points
  • Repeat action items
  • Thank presenters/partners as appropriate
  • Remind the audience about the recording, tell their friends, fill out the evaluation form

EVENT DAY CHECKLIST

Time Task Owner Complete
15 minutes prior Log into meeting Producer/Presenters
15 minutes prior Check technology Functionality Producer
10 minutes prior 'Cycle Slides' uploaded and running Producer
10 minutes prior Polling questions created and loaded Producer
10 minutes prior 10 minute announcement Producer
5 minutes prior 5 minute announcement Producer
Begin recording Producer
Introduce webinar Producer
Presentation Presenter(s)
Monitor time Producer
Monitor Q&A Producer
Introduce live Q&A Producer
Close presentation Producer
Turn off recording Producer
Copy Q&A log Producer
Save presentation with polling data Producer
5 minutes after End the webinar Producer
10 minutes after Debrief the presentation Everyone
15 minutes after Check the recording Producer
30 minutes after Send attendee follow-up emails, include takeaway Support Staff
35 minutes after Send non-attendee follow-up emails Support Staff
Next morning Check and collate survey results Producer
Next morning Divide leads between sales people Support Staff