Webinars, distinct from webcasts, are online conferences, or web-based seminars with a live and interactive online audience. Audiences of webinars are able to communicate in real-time to the seminar presenter through features on host sites such as video chat and online messaging.
The distinct advantage to webinars is the interactive communication that can take place during the presentation. This format allows presenters to interact with audiences about content and ideas, and audiences to receive more tailored advice. Most importantly, this form of live communication provides presenters with exposure to a larger audience. While international audiences may find time differences difficult, the online format proves to be far more accessible to a wider audience pool. Similarly, time-poor audience members have the ease of access to an online seminar. “People may balk at attending a sit-down seminar, but they may prove very willing to tune in to a webinar from their desk or wherever they may be.” Smallbusiness InSite
To learn how to plan a successful webinar see Planning a Successful Webinar.
How to conduct an effective Webinar
There are four main functions or roles that need to be assigned in order to effectively present a Webinar:
- Coordinator and/or administrator: this role includes scheduling the event, managing the set up in your selected web conference system and coordinating with other team members to ensure that deadlines are met.
- Marketer: Promoting the event and driving attendees.
- Presenter: Physically delivering the information to the audience.
- Moderator: Supporting the presenter(s) with introductions, technical support, question and answer facilitation and providing other critical backup and resources for the presenter(s) during the presentation.
Once these roles have been divided amongst employees, these simple steps should be followed:
Rehearse the presentation: It is well known that there is no substitute for practice. Rehearsing the presentation is the only way to work out the timing, establish the right language and become comfortable with the transitions and segues between key talking points.
Find expendable content: Ensure that the presenter places the most important connect of the presentation first. This is because if they are short on time towards the end of the presentation they can skip some slide but know that all the important information has been covered.
Set up the environment: The presenter must ensure the physical and technological environment is set up to enhance your presentation. Make sure to eliminate items that could distract the audience and detract from the presentation.
Have a back up plan: An emergency plan is crucial and should be apart of the preparation process. These plans are important as the presenter want to maximise their ability to complete the webinar even if there is an unplanned event.
- The telephone and computer must be backed up
- Have the slides printed put next to the presenter
- Ensure there are separate networks, one for the presenter and the other for the mediator
In order to keep audiences attentive and involved in the webinar, content and delivery must be good. Presenters must maintain a high level of energy and enthusiasm. Also the presenter must must be conscious of the tone and pitch of their voice whilst delivering their presentation. Variation in both tone and pitch will help keep the audience engaged.
To ensure that your audience members feel included and/or important, throughout your presentation address them us individuals not as a group. Each listener should feel as though you are talking directly to them. Frankly, they also need to stay awake and be a part of the dialogue. Listen to this webinar for a great example of a presenter - Michael Pedone from SalesBuzz - who insisted on active engagement. Brilliant!
Another useful tool in ensuring that the webinars is interesting is scripting your opening and closing paragraphs. This will allow the presenter to move smoothly into their subject matter with confidence and ease. It can also assist in strongly concluding the presentation and allow the presenters to call into action their audience members.
Effective slide design is crucial in any successful webinar. You need to determine if you would like a rotating slide set - 3-7 slides that rotate every 10-12 seconds prior to the start of the conference. Slides can also incorporate an overview of the company, client list, agenda, meeting objectives, bios and/or headshot of presenters.Avoid using the slides as a script that the presenter simply re-reads to their audience. Ensure to divide up key points of the presentation and use graphics to aide the presentation. Have a moderator and 1-2 speakers and make sure the text is large enough and in an easy to read colour. Consider ice breakers or light hearted material to supplement the content and keep in mind that much of this is determined by the demographics and the nature of the event.
Finally, running polls during a webinar that are interactive for participants, but not intrusive on the delivery of the webinar are a great way of engaging the audience. Participants can be guaranteed by having an invitation and registration process – this acts as an incentive to watch.
For a successful webinar, it should be easy for the audience to take the next step. If you want audiences to contact you, provide contact details clearly at the end of your presentation. Employing the right tool to promote the seminar after the event is essential (Facebook, a blog page etc.). Similarly, ensure you record your presentation, so that it can be accessed at a later stage.
Martine Hunter from MLT creative provides 10 tactics to ensure webinar registration:
- Paid email blasts through trade publications
- Rented list through a list database
- Multiple email blast to house list
- Daily Twitter mentions from all staff
- LinkedIn status updates, group announcements and event invitations
- Blog post highlighting the benefits of the webinar
- Blog posts on the expert speaker’s blog and other relevant subject matter experts
- Online press releases
- Prominent call-to-action buttons on homepage and blog
- Event announcements on all of the firm’s Outlook email signatures
It's really really hard to get people to attend a webinar if the topic is uninteresting. Try to select a topic that's broad enough to attract a large audience, yet targeted enough to provide actionable advice that attendees can implement the moment the webinar ends. Easier said than done!
- Attendance Rates
- Generally, you can expect between 1/4% to 2% register, in other words 1 to 8 people will register for every 400 contacted
- Of those registered, approximately 75% of registrants show for fee-based events and 40-50% for free events, so plan for that with follow-up contact with attendees and non -attendees
- Keep registration process concise and simple
Save the giveaways for attendees to the webinar, instead of offering whitepapers or other giveaways ahead of time. Many companies deprive themselves of potential audience members by making their registration forms too time consuming or intrusive. This leads to a high abandonment rate. Some of the best practices on registration forms are:
- -Reduce the input fields, aim for no more than 8-10 fields
- -Avoid asking personal questions at the start such as their industry experience, and postpone those specific questions until after the value is provided so that trust is built first
- -Have your logo or client testimonial at eye level to project credibility
- -Restate the value of the offering, that is, what you're presenting and why they should register for your webinar
- -Before publishing, ask yourself 'Would I find this form confusing?' and 'Would I fill this form out?'
Landing Page goes through the steps around landing page design which involves the registration page and how it should be structured to maximise registrations.
- Send out additional email campaigns and login reminders
It is recommend to call participants of events with paying attendees to ensure they are prepared. You should also send thank you emails and registration confirmations. Not only is it good manners but also acts as a reminder for the event
- Choose the right day of the week
Studies conducted by WhatCounts suggest Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to host a webinar
- Market your webinar through your speakers
Get your speakers to leverage their personal connections, social accounts, and email lists to ensure they have a large audience
- Be aware of audio requirements
Awareness of entry and exit times and name announcements is important so they can be shut off by contacting the service provider
- Avoid silence
Determine the type of interaction desired with the audience. Read questions and answers, discuss polling results and move on in less than 20 seconds
- Keep event introduction bios short
- Prepare question management strategy
Have a few questions prepared to jumpstart the audience
- Complete a prep session and dry run of the event with the presenters
Always remember that your temperament determines the mood of your audience. If something goes wrong, keep a smile on your face until the webinar is over
- Don't start the recording until just before the conference begins
- Use headsets and avoid speaker phones on the day of the event
HubSpot have also identified other things you can do to make your next webinar a rousing success.
New media industry commentator Chris Garrett suggests there are 5 reasons why webinars are effective marketing tools:
- Create awareness for your company and express ideas
- Creates products in real time and teaches audience how to use them
- Builds relationships with potential clients
- Enables income and profit
- List building and audience creation
For an example of a recorded webinar, follow this link: