Webinars are powerful tools. You can use them to nurture leads, teach audiences, and build your brand. Plus, they are versatile and can fit many other use-cases. To help you get the most out of your webinars, we’ve put together this complete guide. We go through everything you need to know to create your first webinar, from start to finish.
Before Your Webinar
There are few steps you should take before you begin your webinar. Choosing the right platform for your needs, picking your speakers, and finding a great topic are just the beginning! Before you start your webinar you’ll need to:
- Choose your platform
- Find your team
- Select your topic
- Write your script
- Promote your webinar
- Prepare your setup
This might seem like a lot of preparation. But once you get a system down, you will be able to make your process a lot faster. That’s why we wrote down ours for you! Let’s get started:
Choose your platform
To begin with, you’re going to have to decide how you want to distribute your webinar. You have some options that depend on what kind of webinar you’ll be running. Consider with your team what your end goals are. Do you want to teach your customers, drive sales or nurture leads? Or maybe your goal is something else entirely. We’ve written a lot already about how to choose the right platform. Here are some common use cases and what to look for in a webinar platform.
Recurring demos and lead generation
If you aim to generate leads and run scheduled demonstrations, you will need a platform that can schedule webinars in advance. Automated webinars can be hosted at any time since they are pre-recorded. If you find a platform that lets you run automated webinars, you can even create a webinar series to nurture leads. You might want to create individual sessions for you webinar series to keep things organized. Checking up on analytics after the webinar can help you track your progress. Your webinar platform should have built in analytics that you can monitor and refer back to later on down the line.
Adding webinars to your content plan is a great idea to attract and retain your target audience. Livestreaming will benefit your content webinars, and you should make sure that your platform has real-time software to make it happen.
Customer training and Q&A
CS teams know the importance of building strong relationships with clients. If you’re looking to train your customers and answer their questions, webinars can help you do just that. You webinar platform will need to come equipped with an option for submitting questions so that your audience can engage directly with you. Another handy tool would be good screen sharing capabilities, especially for customer training. You can walk your clients through each of your actions, step by step.
Webinars can be a great way to educate audiences. You can lock your courses behind a paywall, and set up automatic redirects at the end of each session. That way students can sign up for the next course after they complete the current one. If you are planning on running educational webinars, check and see that your webinar platform allows for polls during your session. These can be a good way to measure compresenshion of your key learning points.
One last thing
Finally, check and see if you will need any special integrations with the platform, if the landing pages are built in, and if it is a download free platform. Some platforms work better on certain browsers, and have different requirements based on your network security settings.
And maybe you just need a software that is really easy to use. Your webinar platform should help you accomplish your goals, regardless of what kind of webinar you plan.
Select your topic
Choosing your webinar topic can be daunting if you don’t already have something in mind. We’ve worked out some tips for this, and if you want to see the condensed version keep reading.
When we choose our webinar topics, the first place we go is our blog. We take note of which posts perform the highest and generate the most interest. You can do the same thing with your social media accounts, noticing which posts have the highest engagement. And even your help documents can be a wealth of information. Find out which help docs are accessed most frequently. Monitoring trending topics in the news or on social media or paying attention to what your competitors are doing are also good ways to get inspiration for your webinar topic. We looked through our most popular webinar formats to help you get a jumpstart on your brainstorming process.
What are the most popular webinar topics?
Find your team
You may be the person in charge of planning the webinar, but it will take a team to make it happen. Generally your webinar will need at least a host, and we recommend adding a co-host for extra dynamism. However, three people seems to be the magic number for a good webinar. We’ve noticed that webinars with more than three people on the stage at once tend to lose focus, and be less clear than webinars with fewer hosts and guests.
How to pick webinar guests and hosts
Guests and hosts should add value to what is being presented. You can select people strategically based on how their skills complement each other. For example, if you are running a customer training webinar, you could invite someone from the product team on to teach your CS lead about a new feature. Adding team members to the webinar can add value for your audience and help to build customer relationships.
In a similar manner, if your guess is an expert in a certain field, it would be interesting to pair them with a host who does not come from the same background. You can invite your own customers on as guests or hosts, which will help to legitimize your brand in the eyes of new prospects. Have your webinar team do a test run before the big day, to break the ice and help them develop a smooth rapport during the webinar.
Write the script
Now that you’ve picked your topic and your team, you’ll need to prepare the content for the webinar. This shouldn't be too tricky, especially if you ask your attendees what questions they have ahead of time. That can make it easier to lay out the structure of your webinar content. Collaborate with co-hosts on the content they wish to share, and give each party a section to complete. Preparing the slide decks, any extra videos and writing the content for the polls and questions will ensure that your are ready to present.
When planning your content, try to keep it engaging. After all, people tend not to remember a lot from presentations. Some studies have shown that the average audience member remembers only 4 slides out of a 20 slide powerpoint!
Structuring your content to follow the outline of a story could combat this, as stories are easier to remember than facts.
There’s a reason why Bob Shrum, a deomcratic speechwriter, said to “write like people talk.” When planning your webinar, make the content easily accessible. And try not to memorize your information. Instead, internalize your concepts so that you can discuss them naturally later on.
Promote your webinar
When it comes to webinar promotion, we’ve pretty much gotten it down to a science. You can reach out to your desired audience beforehand by promoting your webinar on your social media accounts. Plus, scheduling emails and embedding your registration form will boost your registrantation count.
How to get more registrants
We’re sure that you want to give everyone a chance to register to your awesome webinar. But that can be hard to do if people don’t know where to find your registration page. Something we like to advise is emailing your entire list with the registration link, as well of the lists of the webinar’s co-hosts. Adding banners to your main website, and embedding your registration page on you site or in your communications can be a helpful way to drum up interest. For example, the next newsletter that you send out can have a link to your webinar registration page. And if you don’t mind playing the long game, you can set up and influencer marketing program with relevant industry experts. Building relationships with these experts can be a great technique to get more registrants, who are actually interested in what you have to say! This way you can promote your webinar on the influencers’s channels, and benefit directly from their loyal followings. Plus, they get to give their fans access to new content that is high quality.
After people register to your webinar
When you have registrants for your webinar, you’ll want to set up an email campaign to remind people to attend. We’ve come up with a 7 step email plan that you can follow. It walks you through confirming the registrations, the best time to send reminders and what to do after your webinar. If you don’t want to go all out with the email communications, that’s ok. The most important emails to send your registrants are the registration confirmation, at least one reminder before your webinar, and a nice follow up.
Prepare your tech
Setting up your hardware is the final step in your pre-webinar process. You will want to make sure that you are using a high quality microphone and video camera. A poor audio feed will make audiences want to tune out. Shotgun microphones do a good job focusing on your voice and fading out any extra noises going on in the background. You can control your recording setting by picking a soundproof location, far away from any ambient noises. Try to include a lot of natural lighting in your shot, and invest in quality lamps to give good lighting. Do a pre-run of your webinar to make sure everything works as it should. And before you go on stage, check your browser and connection with a pretest.
During the webinar
You’ve taken all of the necessary steps to prepare the perfect webinar. You have the best speakers, you’ve studied your material, and you’ve finished your promotion process. Now you just need to make it through the presentation. There are some key things to keep in mind as you present your webinar, like how to deliver a compelling presentation.
Dealing with nerves
If you aren’t used to hosting webinars, the idea of being in front of hundreds of people can be a little intimidating at first. You’ve probably watched a fair share of ted talks and famous speeches, and you’re wondering how you can come off as an eloquent speaker. Preparation is the key to a smooth presentation. If you and your co-hosts practice in advance you will have a better delivery during your actual webinar. Don’t worry if you don’t stick exactly to the script, the most important thing is that you sound natural.
While you’re rehearsing, try to practice in different positions and locations. For exampl do one run standing, and another sitting down. This is common advice from acting coaches and it can help you remember your key points. If possible, try to record your rehearsal and watch it at a later time. Your body language will be obvious to you if you do this. Try to use your nervous energy as enthusiasm and visualize a positive outcome.
Timing is everything
To keep your audience engaged make sure to pay close attention to your timing. We recommend keeping webinars around a thirty minute time limit. You can add an extra fifteen minutes at the end of your time for questions. Webinars that run over an hour tend to lose viewers as they go on. Something you can do to keep your webinar on the shorter side is orient your audience immediately with a short introduction. You can jump right into your content without wasting any time.
Use “Micro Commitments”
As you are presenting, implement some techniques to keep energy high. If you can engage your audience by asking them questions during your webinar, or launching polls, you will improve overall retention. Another technique for keeping attention is presenting your audience with “micro commitments.” Micro Commitments can be a simple as you bringing up at the top of your webinar that you will present a specific topic, and later on reminding your audience that you will speak about the topic soon. This is based on the assumption that people are hardwired to be consistent even if an original incentive isn’t yet present. Subconsciously, listeners will agree to keep listening to you because you have promised them certain information. When you cover the topic you had previously mentioned, it make your audience feel rewarded.
After Your Webinar
Your webinar is over and it went without a hitch. No simple task for a first-timer! You can pat yourself on the back, and follow these steps to make sure you get the most out of your experience.
Analyze your data
Your webinar gives you the opportunity to access interesting data about your registrants that will teach you a lot. You can see who attended your webinar, if they left the room and at what time, and other important metrics. You should pay attention to how many people registered for the webinar vs who actually showed up.
Your data can act as a benchmark for future webinars, and will let you know if you've met your goals.
Repurpose your webinar
Our favorite thing to do after our webinars is repurpose the content. You can reference all of the material you covered, cut it and splice it into social media posts, or create a transcript of your discussion.Embed the recordings to your website or within your blog posts to make them easy to access. You could even turn the recording into an on-demand evergreen webinar. This is the best way to get the most mileage out of your content, making webinars a smart time investment.
Host an “afterparty”
After your webinar ends, host an afterparty on social media to chat with attendees in real time. You can take this time to answer any leftover questions and build relationships with your audience. If you are on twitter you can host a Q&A, and with Instagram or Facebook stories you and go live and stream your reaction in real time. For facebook or linkedin you can post your repost, and spread the word about any additional materials that go along with your webinar like downloadable checklists. Plus, it’s a good time to tease your upcoming blog post about your webinar topic.
Finally, the last thing you should do is follow up with your attendees. You can send them the link to the replay, and invite them to your upcoming webinars. Take this time as an opportunity to ask them if they felt your content was useful to them. They can even fill out a typeform that will help you know what they prefer to see in webinars. You can refer back to this while you plan your next presentation.