A well-executed first webinar can boost your brand exposure, inform a designated consumer group, and deliver your marketing messages to a targeted demographic. The powerful combination of content, graphics, and a live, interactive exchange of data can convert prospects into actual sales as well as grant your audience an up close look at everything your business has to offer.
Despite the many benefits offered by webinars, many entrepreneurs still hesitate to host their first webinar simply because they aren’t sure what to expect throughout the entire process. They worry they won’t know how to adequately prep, execute, and follow up, so they opt to leave webinar hosting out of their marketing mix altogether. Don’t let fear of the unknown prevent you from reaping the benefits of running your first webinar; know what to expect before, during, and after so you can prepare for optimal success.
Before Your First Webinar
You should expect a lot of strategic planning before your first webinar. Pre-event preparation is often the most crucial component to an effective webinar. Some key items you will want to put on your pre-event checklist include:
Will Your Material Work in Webinar Format?
While webinars work well to present a wide range of ideas and materials, it’s still important to determine if what you want to announce is relevant for the webinar format. In short, if you’re asking people to clear their schedule to tune into your session, you should have a fairly significant announcement or event to share. Leave minor announcements like press releases and inconsequential service updates to other mediums. Your first webinar should focus on more relevant ideas such as:
- Panel discussions
- Product demonstrations
- How-to tutorials
- Interview with industry authority / trendsetter
- Fresh takes on current niche topics
Taking the time to identify if you have enough to share is a key first step before hosting your first webinar.
Set Specific Goals
Not having any outlined objectives before a first webinar is a common mistake. You should treat webinars as you would any other marketing initiative and develop a list of specific goals you’d like to achieve with each session you host. Include both general and specific targets:
- Further brand exposure and reach
- Launch new product/services
- Number of attendees
- Total qualified leads
- Sales conversions
Knowing what you want to achieve before your first webinar can help you fine-tune the presentation as needed so you accomplish it.
Once you’ve determined you have something to offer as well as your marketing purpose, you’ll want to hit the keyboard to start drafting your content. A well-rounded, engaging webinar will use a solid mix of both audio and visual material to captivate listeners.
Work with your team to develop an outline of various components to include. Once you know what you want to convey, it’s time to start writing the slides and script you will need to keep the audience tuned in from start to finish.
Send and Manage Invitations
Even the most captivating webinars fail if no one knows when to tune in and listen.
Before hosting your first webinar, you will want to develop a strategy to invite your targeted demographic to your session. Start by choosing when you will host your first webinar, remembering to consider various time zones so as many prospects as possible can check you out.
Once you’ve identified your date and time as well as desired audience, you will want to get the word out by using as many resources as possible. Emails, your website, a press release, and social media pages all prove an excellent way to help spread your announcement.
No matter what invitation forum you use, be sure to include ways to RSVP so you can manage attendance totals as well as field any necessary questions in advance.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Setting aside enough time to rehearse your session is quite possibly the most important thing to expect before hosting your first webinar.
You should host dry runs on every component of your webinar, beginning with the technology you use. Practice using the webinar software before going live to guarantee everyone involved understands all the needed functionality in advance.
You will also want to rehearse the presentation itself. Copy that reads well may not have the same desired impact when spoken. Gather up a makeshift audience to listen to your material before going live so you can adjust and edit as needed before guests beginning logging in.
Finally, as part of your practice session, you will want to setup your meeting space for optimal results. If you’re hosting from home, ensure that everyone you live with knows to not interrupt you during the conference time. If you’re hosting from the office, you should sign out a quiet room where you won’t have to worry about disruptions.
Your immediate space should be organized and clutter free to eliminate the risk you will knock something over when you do go live.
Last thing on your checklist – turn off your computer notifications and put your cellphone on Do Not Disturb.
During Your First Webinar
You will want to prepare for what may occur during your first webinar. The first thing to expect during a webinar? The unforeseen can (and often does) happen.
There’s truly no foolproof way to plan ahead for the limitless possibilities of “what ifs” that can occur throughout your presentation. However it’s still important to understand some of the basics of what may go down when everyone starts logging in:
Dealing With Nervousness
Even if you are reading everything from a script, there’s still a chance that you may find yourself battling butterflies and nerves when going live. It’s perfectly natural.
Walking in place and moving a bit (as much as your webinar setup will allow without compromising the quality of the demonstration) whenever you start to feel tense can help relax you so your listeners never notice your anxiety.
As with any audience-centric event, some of your participants will simply not attend your first webinar, for various reasons. Illness, changes in schedules, forgetting about the event, and a simple loss of interest can all play a role in guests not attending your presentation.
The key is to not take their absence personally – track those who don’t attend so you can develop a plan to remind and encourage guests to tune in on your next session.
Timing is Everything
No matter how many times you’ve rehearsed your presentation, you may still find that your live execution is off. Some newbie exhibitors run too long and risk people having to leave the demo before it’s finished; others finish up too quickly and experience the awkward tension of “dead air.”
If you do start to notice your timing is a bit off, plan accordingly. If you’re going over the planned time, you may have specific sections you can omit in order to focus on the most crucial elements of your expo. Or, if you feel like you’re racing through your delivery, slow down and insert some ad hoc Q&A sessions with your audience.
Stopping for inquiries not only gets you back on schedule, it also instantly adds an interactive component between you and your audience as well.
After Your First Webinar
When you finally log off and think your webinar work is over…it’s not. Managing the aftermath of your event is critical to help you achieve all those goals and objectives you identified before your first webinar. After every session you will want to:
Far too often, newbie presenters fail to follow-up with the leads garnered during the webinar. As soon as possible, you and your team should work through your entire list of webinar attendees to identify what type of lead category they fall into. For the most part, these lead categories will include:
- Signed-up but didn’t attend
Once you’ve identified lead type, you will want to develop a follow-up specifically designed to bring them to the next level in your pipeline. Emails, sales links, freebies, and exclusive opportunities are just some of the many ways you can connect with and further nurture your leads.
After hosting your first webinar, you will have access to a wealth of critical data and information. Analyze some key facts such as:
- Attendance levels
- How long session actually lasted
- How many attendees stayed until the end
- Technical difficulties
- Areas for improvement
- Negative feedback
- Most powerful segments
- Questions asked by audience
No detail is too small for consideration; gathering up everything you can will help you identify trends in your performance, what worked, and what didn’t.
Get Ready For Round Two
Armed with your newfound webinar experience and careful data analysis, you are officially ready to get started on your next live webinar.
Reevaluate your initial presentation to pinpoint how you can strengthen your brand messages and further your promotional objectives in the future. You may find there are pieces of the original presentation you want eliminate for upcoming conferences. However, you may still identify a use for relevant materials.
Go through your demonstration to determine if you can repurpose content in other campaigns and strategies.
Finally, you may also want to develop a method for storing your first videoconference (and any other subsequent sessions that follow).
Offering access to your specific demographic after the live event is an excellent way to optimize long-term marketing momentum. Live links on your website and social media pages give interested consumers a chance to review your demo at their convenience. Online access to your presentation increases total promotional impact for maximum overall return on investment.
In order to host your first webinar, you’ll need to start with great webinar software. Check out BigMarker for modern, no-download webinar technology you and your audience will love. To get started, sign up for a 14-day free trial or send us a message to learn more about the hosting experience on BigMarker.