Classic webinar format
By now you’re probably familiar with the classic webinar format. Traditional webinars can last anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. This is generally as much time as you need to provide value to your audience and answer any questions. This timeframe is also short enough to maintain attention and keep engagement high. At Livestorm, we recommend that you hold them midweek, and that you include one to two speakers.
Shaking up your webinar plan can be a great way to pique interest and engage your audience. That’s why we’ve gathered ten experimental webinar ideas that you can use to mix it up.
1. Create short form webinars
Some brands host regular short-form webinars. Intercom even hosts webinars that last one minute long, where they explain a new feature to their audience. They include a countdown timer at the bottom of the screen to make it even more entertaining. The next time you plan a webinar, consider creating a series of short videos. You can cover one specific topic, going into great detail in a shorter amount of time. You don’t have to make them as short as Intercom does, but you can definitely try! And if you’re hesitant to go that far, we would recommend keeping the webinars around 15-20 minutes. You can experiment a little to see what your audience likes the best. Can’t think of what you could cut from your webinar outline? Skip your intro at the beginning and dive right into your main topic. Your audience will appreciate the extra efficiency.
2. Create a Quiz show
A fun way to engage with your viewers would be to tweak your webinar format a bit, creating a quiz show. If your webinar platform has polls built into it, you could set up a series of them to go off during your webinar. Your audience can then answer your polls, and you can discuss the answers in real-time. Or, use the question and answer feature of your webinar to quiz your viewers. This would be especially cool if you sent prizes to the participants. For example, the first person to respond with a correct answer in the chat could get a logo t-shirt.
3. Moderate a Q&A webinar
Q&A webinars are a classic way to engage directly with your users, while clearing up any confusion or doubts for your leads. To execute a successful Q&A webinar, make sure you select a host who is an expert on your topic. The more experience that they have with your product and with your users, the better. Someone from the Customer Success team would be a great choice for a Q&A webinar host. Plus, if they are frequently communicating with your users it will be neat to be able to put a face (and a personality) to a name.
Try to strike a balance between questions submitted live during the webinar, and questions that have been prepared in advance. You can start collecting some of the advance questions during your webinar promotion process. For everyone who registers to your webinar, send them an email where they can submit any questions they would like to have you answer. Then, gather all of your responses and sort them into categories based upon their similarities. You can have a colleague sit-in on your live webinar and ask some of these questions at the beginning. This will encourage the audience to ask their own questions, and will serve as an icebreaker for you. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t stress about it. And, most importantly, don’t make it up! Just say that you aren't sure, and that you’ll follow up on it after the webinar. This could even create a good touchpoint during your follow up.
Finally, if you run out of time, make a note of everything you didn’t get to answer. You can address these questions in your next webinar. Or, you can use them as inspiration for your next webinar topic.
4. Team up with someone
Webinars with one host definitely have a place in your content plan. However, if you are looking for ways to switch up your webinars consider teaming up with someone else. Or even multiple people!
A few basic tips for all of these formats:
- Try not to talk (or breath) too close to the mic
- Don’t forget about the audience
- Limit awkward silences
- Never interrupt your collaborators
There are a few different ways you can team up with others to make a cool webinar.
Host an expert panel
Curate a list of relevant speakers and influencers that can make up the panel. The more diverse perspectives there are, the better the discussions will be. So try to gather people from different backgrounds and fields of work. The trickiest part of hosting an expert panel will be coordinating everyone's schedules. After that you need to make an outline for the discussion that includes the order of speakers, the topic and any research you have done in advance. Try to get the gang together for a dry run, where you can plan out how much speaking time each person should get.
Team up with a co-host
Choose a co-host that compliments you. Their area of expertise should fill in any knowledge gaps in your presentation. Ideally select someone who is passionate about the topic, as it will create a lively exchange. Both parties in a co-webinar should prepare in advance and promote the webinar to their respective audiences. And finally, if you don’t know your co-host personally try to break the ice beforehand. Even if it’s just a quick phone call, both of you will be more at ease during the actual webinar if it’s not your first time meeting.
5. Tell a story
People love stories. Next time you host a webinar, instead of giving a bland introduction incorporate a story. This will hook your audience, and help them relate to you more. And if you aren’t the type who likes to overshare, it’s no problem. Your story doesn’t have to be drawn from your personal experiences. Talk about things that have happened professionally, and ways you overcame a challenge. Or, invite a customer to share their story. This method gets extra points if your product was able to help them in some way.
6. Change your setting
This could be as easy as changing the backdrop of your webinar! Change keeps viewers engaged, and can even motivate them to tune into future webinars. You can even sneak in an easter egg into your setting, like a carefully placed logo, and ask your viewers to find it as an icebreaker. Something else you can do to change your setting, would be switching up your activity. Invite your guests to the office and have a coffee with them. Or if they recently released a book, include a copy of it on your desk.
7. Offer freebies
Pretty much everyone everybody likes to get free stuff. Company swag can be a fun way to communicate your brand image to your audience. At the end of your webinar, send your attendees some of the cool stuff you have on hand. Or you can give your audience free content for the end of your webinar, like ebooks and other materials. Whatever it is, make sure it makes sense to your brand and topic.
8. Create a paid webinar series
Paid webinar series are excellent for when you have insider knowledge or rare experiences to share. Designed for premium content, paid webinars are meant to help your audience. Use them when you want to offer advanced training for a loyal following. You can even design online courses and offer certifications. If your content is high quality, relevant, and has authority in your market it makes sense that people would be interested in attending your webinars.
9. Choose a theme (holiday etc)
This one is more on the silly side, but it can be a great way to switch up your webinars. Pick a theme and stick to it. Use a fun holiday calendar and be creative. You can find ways to work your theme it into your topic with props and background items. You could even involve any office pets!
10. Add music
We were inspired by podcasts for this one. You can add music to your webinar during introductions and transitions to lighten the mood and keep your audience interested. If you’re playing popular music, stick to 10 minute sound bites to avoid breaking any copyright laws. Better yet would be to use free music that can be found on soundcloud with specific search settings. Avoid streaming music on speakers, as it will sound fuzzy and the quality will be low. Instead, you can integrate your music directly into the webinar.