Creating and hosting a great webinar can take your business to the next level. That's why we've created this complete guide to show you 15 steps to make an engaging webinar. We cover the basics, and more, in this detailed article.
Hosting a webinar can be an effective way to teach your audience relevant skills, build your professional network, and foster connections with experts in your industry. If you’re about to create a webinar for the first time, you might be wondering how to get started. From choosing your software to designing your slides, we’ll walk you through every step of planning and hosting your webinar in this step-by-step guide.
A webinar is an educational, virtual presentation in which the hosts share valuable information for their attendees. Basically, it’s an online seminar! Generally, individuals and businesses put on webinars to conduct trainings or teach their attendees new skills.
During a webinar, attendees watch a presentation by the host and guest speakers, who explain the topic at hand and emphasize the most important talking points with a slide show. After the presentation, the attendees will typically have the chance to ask questions. However, a host might choose a different format for their webinar, like a panel discussion or a moderated live Q&A session.
During a live webinar, the host and speakers will stream their presentation in real-time rather than recording their presentation ahead of time to distribute later. A live webinar will usually involve interaction with attendees, and the presenters will open up opportunities for questions and comments.
Check out the below video from our Content Manager, Daniella, as she shares the basics of what a webinar is and how it works.
Now, we’re all up to speed on what a webinar is - let’s dive in and explore what it takes to host one!
Before choosing a platform, you’ll need to determine the purpose of your webinar. In other words, what is your use case? You might want to teach a masterclass, host a customer training program, hold recurring webinars, or even put on webinars for hiring sessions or employee onboarding. Software that works well for teaching an online class might not be the best choice for new product demonstrations, so make sure that your chosen software has the features you need, which could include recurring webinars, a lead generation tool belt, screen sharing, or detailed analytics. The best webinar platforms also allows hosts to design custom registration pages, schedule automatic email reminders for registrants, and enjoy unlimited replay storage.
Finally, think about your potential audience size - if you’re expecting hundreds of people to register, you need suitable software for a large webinar. Working with browser-based software rather than external software that your attendees would have to download will make your webinar accessible to a wider audience.
Your computer may already have a built-in webcam, but before your webinar, you’ll want to invest in a microphone and external webcam for high-quality visuals and clear audio. In addition, you may want to use a headset. And if you don’t have adequate natural lighting, setting up artificial lighting will help brighten up your space!
Do you plan to have a single speaker give a presentation during your webinar, or will you be interviewing an expert on your chosen topic? Perhaps you’d like to invite several presenters for a moderated panel discussion. Or maybe you would prefer to host a Q&A session! Before making a final decision about the format for your webinar, think about how you can best present this information to educate your audience.
To identify potential topics for your webinar, look at what kind of content performs best on your blog and social media pages. Think about how your webinar can provide answers to your customers’ frequently asked questions. You could also host a webinar centered around a current trending topic - just make sure that the information will be relevant to what your own customers are typically searching for on your website.
Once you’ve identified a broad category, it’s best to narrow it down to a specific topic. For instance, instead of hosting a webinar about social media marketing, you might want to focus on teaching attendees how to grow their followings on Instagram or create and moderate Facebook groups for their businesses. Make sure that you can provide enough valuable information on your chosen topic to keep your attendees engaged for about an hour.
A webinar doesn’t have to be a one-person show - bringing in a few knowledgeable guest speakers will allow you to provide even more valuable information for your audience! Your guest speakers should be experts in their fields who will be prepared to answer wide-ranging questions from attendees. Double check with your speakers to ensure that they are prepared for the time commitment.
You may also want to choose a reliable partner to serve as a guest speaker. However, try to avoid packing your webinar “stage” with too many speakers - this can be overwhelming for the audience.
A webinar moderator works behind the scenes to make sure the entire event goes smoothly. They will be responsible for answering questions from attendees who are in need of assistance and fixing minor tech issues that may pop up. While the moderator won’t be on screen during the presentation, they are an important member of the webinar team!
You’ve assembled your team, and you’re ready to start putting your presentation together. Begin crafting your presentation by writing a script. This is a collaborative effort with the guest speakers, as each of them can contribute their own sections. Include references to specific data and evidence that backs up your talking points - this will prove useful when your attendees ask questions! While you might want to glance at your script as you present, you do not have to memorize it before the webinar.
Once you’ve outlined your script, it’s time to start creating your slide show. Remember, you do not have to include all of the information in your script on your slides. Instead, your slides should serve to emphasize the most important details in your script. When it comes to visual design, keep it simple. Include neat fonts, attractive visuals, and colors that pop, but make sure to keep the overall focus on the message.
To maximize your audience numbers, choose a date and time that will be most convenient for your target audience. You may want to poll your audience in advance to see which time slot works best for the majority of likely attendees.
Schedule a practice run for your webinar several days before the actual event. Run through the slides and script with the speakers, finalize the content for your presentation, and ensure that the moderator knows which activities they will be responsible for monitoring. You may want to record your practice runs so that you can watch them back and tweak your presentation style.
In addition to rehearsing your presentation, you’ll also need to do a tech test-run. Make sure that everyone involved with hosting the webinar is comfortable with the technology and software you’ll be using. If you run into any issues, take care of troubleshooting before the big day!
To promote your webinar, start by creating a banner ad on your website that leads to a webinar landing page with details about the content, speakers, date and time, and how to register. You can also start sharing posts on social media encouraging your followers to sign up. To further your reach on social media, you could consider partnering with trusted influencers in your industry who would be interested in promoting your webinar to their own followers.
In addition, launching an email campaign is a great way to connect with your most loyal customers. After someone registers for your webinar, they should receive a confirmation email. You’ll want to follow up with emails reminding your registrants about the webinar in the days leading up to the event!
The big day has arrived! Before your webinar kicks off, take some time to tidy up your studio space so that your background will look neat and organized. While you’re setting up your space, check your Internet connection.
If you’re feeling a bit nervous, take a deep breath before you log into the webinar room! While some attendees might sign in late, it’s important to dive into your content shortly after the official start time. You want to make sure that you move through your presentation in a timely manner so that the attendees get a chance to ask questions. During the webinar, make call backs to details you mentioned earlier to grab attendees’ attention.
As you and your speakers present, aim to keep your audience engaged with “microcommitments.” For instance, you might want to have them fill out short surveys or answer general questions through a chat feature. Launching polls to ask your attendees for their opinions on different topics mentioned in the presentation will let them know that you value their input! Furthermore, it’s important to participate in the chat - giving a one-sided presentation might feel underwhelming for your audience. Through genuine interaction, you can gain a better understanding of what they hope to learn from this webinar.
Congratulations - you’ve just hosted a great webinar! But your job isn’t done just yet. Now that your webinar is over, you’ll want to take this opportunity to follow up with your attendees. Send out an email thanking them for coming, and include a survey where they can provide their feedback on the webinar. This information will be essential when you’re planning future webinars! These emails can also go out to no-shows.
Furthermore, you can include a call to action in your emails. If you’re hosting another virtual event soon, or if you’re launching an exciting new program, encourage your audience to sign up!
After your webinar is over, you’ll want to look at several key analytics. Note how many people registered and how many actually attended. In addition, you can also check out how many people left the webinar room before it ended. This will help you evaluate the overall success of your webinar and figure out what you could do differently next time. For instance, if you notice that a significant percentage of registrants didn’t end up attending, you might need to optimize your reminder emails next time around!
When you send out your follow-up emails to registrants, you can also include a link to your webinar recording. They will be able to watch it again to catch any information they might have missed the first time. This will also give no-shows a chance to watch the presentation, even if they couldn’t attend the actual webinar. You can also rewatch your webinar to see what you would like to replicate and what you might want to change for future virtual events!
Creating a great webinar is just the first step in your video strategy. You also need a simple, powerful video conferencing software you can rely on. From trailblazing startups to enterprise businesses, Livestorm enables companies around the world to design, create, and implement world-class video communication strategies. Click here to learn why over 3,000 companies trust Livestorm to host their webinars and online meetings.
Molly Hocutt has been a Content Manager at Livestom since 2019. She has more than five years of experience in SaaS content writing and B2B marketing.
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