How to Produce a Great Webinar

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Content Marketing

In my last post, How to Create a Successful Webinar, I talked about webinars – what they are and how to set them up. Today, let’s follow up on that post with helpful tips to get you to the next phase to produce a great webinar.

Homework first! In my last post, I asked you to jot down three potential webinar topics you think your company could do well. Grab those or write three down now if you haven’t done that already. The reason for creating this context is that it helps make the information you’re reading more memorable, and helps jump-start your creative ideas for your webinars.

Great – now let’s get started. Keep one of these ideas in mind as you read.

1. Find your audience

Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. You need to get the word out. Just as you would for any other project, you need to create a marketing plan.

Look at one of your webcast ideas and grab a pen. Let’s create a mini-marketing plan. Answer each question:

  • Who are the ideal audience members for this topic? (Demographics, firmographics)
  • Do you already engage with this audience? If so, where?
  • If no to the question above, how might you find them? Consider what online communities they belong to, or trade shows they attend
  • What channels might you use to reach them? Examples: social media, blogs, direct email/mail.

You can come back and flesh this out, but these answers should get you thinking of how to spread the word. You will probably use more than one channel; for example, you might send an email to a segment of your list and also use social media. Make sure your messages across channels are consistent, so they reinforce each other and you get the benefit of repeat exposure. According to ON24, the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) are the best-performing days for email promotions.

2. Keep track of attendees

Your audience will register in advance for the webcast. This will give you insight into who is attending – and how many of them. If your platform has attendance limits, have a plan for what to do if projected attendance exceeds capability. You may also be able to draw on this list to invite attendees to future events. Many platforms offer this option. [Note: Act-On’s integrations with web event management apps means registrants are automatically added to your database, and segmented … you can even send them directly to nurture programs. End of sales pitch. – the Editor]

Not all attendees who register will show up for the webinar. In fact, according ReadyTalk, you may only get half or less of those registrants on the day. But registrants who miss your live event may come back for the on-demand version. According to ON24’s 2016 Webinar Benchmark Report, 33% of webinars attendees registered and attended the on-demand webinar only, after the live event. Another 8% attended both, perhaps returning to the on-demand one to review an important point.

Now let’s move in to going live.

3. Get ready to rock production

You’re ready – the topic and platform picked, the boss signed off, the talent acquired. Now it’s time to execute. Here are some tips to help your host be successful. 

  • Be polished and professional. Tidy up your workspace, paying attention to your backdrop (keep it simple and non-personal – unless you really need to showcase something back there). Put on some nice – and plain – clothes. (Blue is always good) Patterns can be distracting on-camera. No bathrobes and bunny slippers, please.
  • Test your technology. Is the microphone working? Are your visuals showing? Is the recording on?
  • Please practice first. I can’t stress this one enough. You don’t want to be stumbling over your words when the ‘Live’ light turns on. And you don’t want to be fumbling and saying “can you hear me?”, “is this on?” etc. That’s not pro at all.
  • Expect the unexpected. Have speaker notes, versus trying to recite the talk track from memory. It’s also not a bad idea to have a backup speaker on hand, too, in case your first one doesn’t show.

4. What happens after it’s over?

After the webinar, it’s not over. You’ve got the recording, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Consider posting your webinar on a site like YouTube or Vimeo. This gives your audience a place to re-watch it if they missed the first airing, and it also allows you to drive new traffic. Do you have a page on your website where you link to eBooks and videos and such? Have a webinar section. (Polish your webinar meta description for organic traffic.) The average viewing time for an on-demand webinar (34 minutes) is shorter than for a live one (57 minutes), but that’s a 17% increase from 2015, and the growth curve is steady.

Once you have the webinar posted, can you embed the video in other media, like your e-newsletter? If your industry does virtual trade shows or virtual user conferences, can you submit your webinar for inclusion?

Type up the transcript. In post production, you can layer the transcript as closed-caption text over the video. You can also re-use that text content to make a blog series or even an eBook. You wrote the script, so you may as well reuse it.

Bonus tips

Finally, here is a catchall of good (and bad) webinar practices.

Doing it right – good practices

  • Be engaging – natural and lighthearted, not droning and dull
  • Be inclusive – remember your audience and ask questions, host giveaways
  • Be interactive when you can. Run surveys during the talk. Encourage people to use a specific social media hashtag. Offer a mechanism for the audience to ask questions or chat with you; instant messenger or chat work best
  • Keep it focused – have one topic, two tops, on your agenda
  • Have a rough outline – a roadmap of what you want to cover. Reading line by line out of a script feels too stiff, unless you have a lot of technical data to relay. But it’s also not good practice to fully ad lib and spend half the talk on tangents
  • Don’t load your slides with text and let the host just read them to the audience
  • Find a quiet room for your host to speak from

What turns me off during a webinar?

  • Background noise and barking dogs. Per my point above, please find a quiet room for your host. And I don’t just mean having your speaker whisper into their mic so as not to disturb the neighbor in the next apartment building. This is business, after all.
  • Overt pitches. They’re just the worst. You just know when they’re coming. There’s a 30-minute killer presentation and you’re thinking “this has been so helpful!” And then comes the hard sell. It’s even worse when the pitch is up front – before you get to the content. Personally, I abandon a webinar – or at least mute it – until that part of the sales pitch is over. Use a different mechanism to sell your stuff.
  • Stop the spam. It’s one thing to use a web form to get people to sign up to your webinar – so you can keep tabs on how many will be tuning in. It’s another to use that email address to endlessly loop them in to junk mail.
  • Open mic. I hate it when the host opens up the room to chat – like, audibly. I’ve seen hosts unmute the audience and then it’s a free-for-all for the audience to chime in. No offense to your audience, but the other attendees didn’t tune in to hear them speak. They want to hear from you – the expert. Mute those attendees.
  • Playing favorites. Just as you wouldn’t do at a dinner party, don’t dominate the conversation with one attendee on your webinar. Don’t exclude the others. I regularly attend a webinar series where the host coos when some of her “favorite” audience members tune in. What about the rest of us? It may be the insecure picked-last-for-kickball kid inside me, but this practice feels off-putting.

Is there something I missed? Leave a comment letting us know what other questions you have about webinars.