A while back, the Summa Media team shared an article about the rise of virtual events and tips for hosting a successful one. The article was a hit and we received many follow up questions from our audience and clients alike on webinars specifically.
We thought it would be helpful for everyone if we shared a separate blog post explaining the ins-and-outs of webinars and that is exactly what we are doing today. In today’s post you will find all of Summa Media’s webinar best practices. From what exactly a webinar is and how it differentiates from other forms of virtual events, the benefits of hosting webinars, and tips for hosting the best webinar ever, the Summa team has you covered.
Keep reading below to learn everything you need to make your first webinar a success!
What exactly is a webinar?
A webinar is an interactive, online event hosted by a company or organization and broadcast to a select group (or in some cases the general population) via the internet. There are many different formats a webinar can take, but the one the Summa Media team has found to be most common is a 60-minute session led by a host — typically someone from the company’s marketing team — and a presenter — typically a subject matter expert from the organization.
Webinars typically consist of approximately 45 minutes of content delivered by the presenter, this content should be educational, valuable, and informative for the audience. Following the presentation there should be a 15 minute Q&A session during which the host helps the presenter by moderating.
Why should I host a webinar?
As we mentioned above, webinars offer your company an opportunity to engage with your prospects and current clients alike via the internet. Although they may be a bit different than their in person counterparts, there are numerous benefits to hosting webinars including:
- Build Your Content Library
Hosting webinars is a great way to build your content library. Not only can you save your webinars and post them to your YouTube channel or website, you can also use them as a baseline for additional content.
Consider making a webinar the introduction to new, upcoming content. Ideas follow up items to a webinar are blog posts, exclusive white papers, social media posts, podcast episodes, or vlogs.
- Establish Your Business as a Thought Leader
By hosting webinars filled with educational, valuable, and insightful information for your audience, you are helping to establish your brand and your employees as industry thought leaders. By establishing yourself as an authority figure, your business will likely be one of the first that comes to a prospect’s mind when they are in search of information on or help with something related to your field.
- Flexibility of Audience Location and Viewing
One of the greatest things about a webinar is that your audience can view the content from anywhere in the world, as long as they have internet access. This enables you to reach a much wider audience than you would with in person seminars and information sessions. By saving your webinar and distributing it to registrants later or posting it to your website, you also give your viewers flexible viewing options. If they are twelve hours behind you and unable to attend in realtime, the ability to view later solves that problem.
Webinars are an extremely affordable way for both your business and prospects to connect. Aside from the basic requirements such as a computer or tablet, internet, and the hosting platform, webinars are free. This enables your business to host as many as you would like on an endless array of topics. This also means that more attendees have the chance to join because they do not have to factor in the cost of travel.
- Excellent Source of Quality Leads
Hosting a webinar gives you access to numerous attendees that you would not otherwise be able to connect with. You also know that these numerous attendees are all interested in your products or services because they are investing time out of their day to learn more about your offerings.
When attendees are registering for your webinar, they will be asked to share their contact information including their company, title, email address, and phone number. You will have access to all of this information in order to follow up with them after the webinar to ask for a meeting.
Tips for Making Your Webinar a Success
- Focus On One Topic
Webinars should be highly focused content, rather than a general overview. Webinars typically last for one hour total with 45 minutes dedicated to content and 15 minutes for Q&A at the end. Trying to cover too much in that short window of time is likely to overwhelm and confuse your audience. Stick to one specific, compelling topic per webinar in order to streamline your presentation and impress your audience.
- Choose Your Speakers Wisely
When choosing a host and presenter for your webinar, it is important to remember that not everyone loves public speaking. Just because someone is a great marketer or your top subject matter expert, does not mean they are the right person for the job. Confirm that your speakers are actually comfortable with public speaking, they understand the material, and they are aware of the expectations set for them.
- Consider How You Will Promote the Event
Prior to the webinar you absolutely must promote the event in order to drive registration and attendance. At a minimum you should begin promotion seven days before the scheduled webinar. Common promotion tactics include email campaigns to your email list, social media advertisements, Google AdWords campaigns, and a LinkedIn InMail push. Consider who your target market is and where they spend the most time in order to ensure you reach your desired audience.
- Create a Strong Script
It is important to have talking points and a script prepared before the webinar in order to ensure that you cover all of the information that you intend to. Prepare a script for your host and your presenter and deliver them to both parties well in advance. Remind them that it is okay if they go off script a bit to make the presentation feel and sound more natural, but they should keep the meat and message the same.
- Evaluate the Best Platform for Your Business
If this is your first time hosting a webinar, evaluate what platform is best for your business. There are hundreds of different hosting platforms to choose from and none are one sized fits all. The size of your company and the level of interactivity you desire will dictate what platform works best for you. Do your research and don’t rush into a contract with a platform that may not be the best fit.
- Do a Run Through Beforehand
Prior the webinar the host and the presenter must do at least one run through together. Doing a run through will ensure that they have a firm grasp of the material they are covering, they are comfortable with every talking point, and will eliminate any surprises on the day of the event. Practice makes perfect, so the more run throughs the team has time for, the better!
- Test the Technology
Especially if your company is using a new-to-you webinar platform, your speakers must test the technology beforehand. Testing the technology won’t ensure that there are zero hiccups on the big day (technology is fickle!), but it will certainly help mitigate them.
The host should know how to do things like monitor the chat box, mute participants, and grant permissions to the presenter. The presenter should be comfortable navigating slides, sharing their screen, and checking for questions as they go.
- Prepare for Technical Difficulties
When using any sort of technology, you should always expect the unexpected. Although you can make sure you understand how to use the technology, problems can still arise. Be sure you have a plan in place for worst case scenarios such as the host’s internet going out, the presenter’s computer crashing, or the webinar hosting platform breaking the day of the event.
- Follow Up Is Critical
As we mentioned in the benefits portion above, one of the greatest things about webinars is that after the event you have the contact information of hundreds of qualified leads. Don’t lose them! Have a plan in place for your sales team to reach out to the attendees and registrants that could not attend after the event in order to further explore their interest in your offerings.
Webinars are a great way to reach qualified leads and to help turn qualified leads into customers. If you are considering hosting a webinar, now is the perfect time to try one with everyone still working from home!
Webinar experts and leaders, the Summa Media team would love to hear from you! Share your webinar best practices with our team in the comments below.
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