Webinar Production Essentials: A Complete Technology & Equipment Checklist

Planning your next webinar? Perhaps it’s your first webinar? Regardless of what’s in your pipeline for webinar production, you’ll want to ensure you have the best technology and equipment at hand to be successful.

Many companies and organizations use webinars as a large part of their marketing strategy, which means a reliable in-house set-up is crucial for their webinar production value. If webinars are a big part of your marketing strategy, you’ll need your webinars to be as polished and professional as possible to maximize your marketing impact.

Webinars nowadays have a wide reach when it comes to marketing. Anyone can find an on-demand recorded webinar from your website, social shares, YouTube, emails, blog post; the list goes on! So, you never know who might see it, could be your next customer. Therefore, you should opt always to put your best foot forward when it comes to webinar production.

Read on for the ultimate essentials checklist for webinar production technology.

 

Essential Technology for Webinar Production

 Technology for Webinar Production

Webinar Software:

There are many options available for hosting your webinar. Each platform has a different set of features that in many cases, don’t overlap.

Determine your feature requirements of a webinar platform before researching and make sure to start a free trial as well. You want to determine if the experience on the host and end-users side matches the experience you wish to deliver for your webinar production.

 

Fast Internet Connection:

Streaming a live webinar takes up a lot of internet bandwidth. Ensure you have a fast internet connection or the ability to wire into your network. If you have low broadband speeds or if you’re still on dial-up service, you can count on having frequent delays and connection issues throughout the course of your live webinar.

As part of your webinar production set-up, make sure to test your speed. (We recommend this speed test.)

 

Marketing Automation Platform:

Your webinar platform likely comes with a tool that allows you to build a registration landing page. Your landing page gives your registrants the ability to fill out a form to register for the webinar so you can capture their information. If it doesn’t, you will need a separate solution or tool that allows you to build this registration landing page for each webinar.

Additionally, if your webinar platform does not give you the ability to send out email reminders or updates to webinar registrants, you will need to use a marketing automation platform to do this as well. Emails are a critical part of webinar production, especially when it comes to following up with webinar registrants. You don’t want to leave your audience hanging!

 

Audio Conferencing:

Most webinar platforms come with VoIP, or they will provide a conference line for attendees to dial into. However, not all webinar platforms allow dial-in. In case yours does not, or if the provided audio quality is poor, you might want to source your own audio option to combat against this issue.

 

PowerPoint:

More often than not, a webinar host will run through a PowerPoint presentation during their online event.

If you do not own Microsoft PowerPoint, now is the time to invest or seek an alternative solution like Keynote.  These tools allow you to put together the visual component of your webinar production. Doing so gives you the ability to brand the presentation to your company or share your “voice.”

For example, if your company tends to be quirky or funny, you can show that off in your slides. Some webinar platforms have the ability to upload PowerPoint files directly into the platform as well, which provides a cleaner view for participants.

Video Editing Tool:

Video is huge right now in the marketing space and is a great form of content to integrate into your webinar production.

Chances are you might have existing videos or training sessions recorded that you’d like to share during your webinar. If you plan to use video during your webinars, it’s always a good idea to do a little editing to make it work with all your other webinar content.

For example, if you only want to show 45 seconds of a 90-second video during the webinar, this is your opportunity to not waste any time and cut out the parts of the video you don’t wish to show.

Image Editing Tool:

Image editing tools, like Photoshop, are another worthwhile investment for your webinar production. This is especially true if you have someone on staff with graphic design experience.

You might use an image editing tool to help craft your PowerPoint slides so you can insert branded images. You could also use image editing software to edit a webinar speaker’s headshot and perhaps even use to assist with the creation of your registration page or email invites. Using a tool like this throughout the set-up process of each webinar will help your webinar production look polished and professional.

 

 

As for the equipment part of your webinar production package, this includes the physical equipment you should strongly consider having on-hand for an in-house studio to produce your webinars. Read on for the ultimate essentials checklist for equipment.

 

 

Equipment for Webinar Production

Equipment for Webinar Production

High-quality webcam:

Audiences like to see webinar speakers on webcam.

Seeing the presenter on camera helps attendees connect to the speaker and delivers a more in-person feel. You’ll want to source a high-quality webcam to give your webinar speaker the best chance at looking good.

You won’t want yourself or your co-hosts to look grainy on screen or even worse… your webcam might not work at all. Hopefully, your laptop has a quality webcam built-in, but if you’ve tested it and it isn’t up to par, look at buying webcams that plug in via USB to your laptop or computer.

 

Lighting:

If you’re on webcam, it’s ALL about the lighting. Without proper lighting equipment, your webinar speaker could be left looking washed out or completely overshadowed. Review this article for fun tips on using lighting to your advantage while on webcam!

Backdrop:

A backdrop is a staged background behind the webinar speaker. This is only required if you plan on using a webcam during the webinar.

Instead of having a messy desk or boring white wall behind you showing up in the video feed, you can purchase a backdrop set to control the entire camera view. During your webinar production you can customize your own backdrop to have the company logo or other landscape of your choosing. Having a backdrop is a cool touch to add to the experience of your webinar.

 

Microphone:

While your computer or laptop likely has an internal mic already built-in, we encourage investing in a standalone mic to achieve superior sound quality.

This could be a headset microphone or a mic that sits on your desk.

If you plan to be on webcam, we highlight suggest a discreet microphone, and only use a headset that is not very visible. Otherwise the webinar host might look more like a call operator and than the industry expert they are.

Laptop or computer:

It’s no secret that you’ll need a computer or laptop to host a webinar.

In many cases you’ll need multiple computers to facilitate your webinars. This is especially true if you plan to have multiple webinar hosts. However, it is not unheard of for some folks to only use a phone nowadays. It’s even rumored that Marketing Guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, only uses his smartphone and no longer has a laptop, for example.

Even though this one might seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to discuss all of the necessary equipment and technical requirements with everyone involved in your webinar production as far in advance as you can. This will ensure everyone is adequately prepared before you go live.

Also, if you’re on a laptop, make sure your charger is nearby. Webinars can quickly drain your battery. You don’t want to have that snafu – big ouch!

 

 

Webinar Production Budgeting

Now that we’ve run through the essentials checklist for the technology and equipment you should consider investing in as part of your webinar production, we want to discuss the dreaded topic of budget.

You likely already have a budget in mind for what you want to spend on webinar production, or what budget you are allowed to spend from your boss.

If you do have the budget to move forward with the highest quality technology and equipment then, by all means, please do this. You won’t regret it.

However, you can quickly drive up costs by going with the top of the line options for everything we listed above, which might not work for you. If you need to start small or bootstrap your way when it comes to webinar production, that is ok! We believe in your hustle.

If you don’t have the budget then you’ll need to pick and choose what technology and equipment to initially invest in. You will want to scope out all the essential items above, pick your ideal technology and equipment to purchase, then price it out and match against your budget.

While every item above is an essential for professional webinar production, if you’re bootstrapped on the budget, consider the below essentials first and foremost before purchasing anything else:

 

Top 4 Webinar Production Essentials:

  1. Webinar platform – this alone accounts for what will make or break your registrant’s webinar experience with you. Plus, you need a way to host a webinar! Select a webinar platform that fits within your budget, but will allow you to provide the best experience. From the registration process, to signing in, the live webinar and finally even leaving the webinar. This is not the item to skimp on.

 

  1. Fast Internet Connection – nowadays, most people have fast internet connection, or an option to directly wire into the network. If you don’t, this should be a top priority.

 

  1. Lighting – if you plan to be on webcam, lighting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make a good impression. Whether it’s a lamp from home or professional lighting. This is a must-have.

 

  1. PowerPoint – most webinars use a PowerPoint presentation throughout their webinar anyway. So, since you likely already have this software, check out our blog on perfecting the webinar PowerPoint design!

 

Get started!

As mentioned, you’ll need high quality webinar software to ensure your webinar production is a success from start to finish. Check out BigMarker today for a modern, feature-rich webinar experience that both you and your audience will love. Start your 14-day free trial now or send us a message to get in touch.

What To Expect Before, During, And After Your First Webinar

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.

Get Writing

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.

 

Before hosting your first webinar

 

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.

Show-Up Rates

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.

 

What to do during your first webinar

 

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:

Follow-up

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:

  • Invited
  • Signed-up but didn’t attend
  • Attendees
  • Conversions

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.

 

Analyze Data

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.

 

Start hosting!

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.

 

After hosting your first webinar

 

 

 

Sources

http://www.techsoup.org/support/articles-and-how-tos/10-steps-for-planning-a-successful-webinar

http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/08/26/how-to-do-a-webinar

How to Use Evergreen Content to Ensure Your Webinar Withstands the Test of Time

Webinars take time and effort to produce, so there’s no sense in using the content just once. That’s why we’re big advocates of creating high-quality evergreen content that can be leveraged in the future for further marketing purposes.

In this article, we’re actually going to show you how to use your webinars in multiple ways to ensure you get the highest possible ROI from all the hard work you put into them.

The Benefit of Evergreen Content

Before we get into talking about webinar hosting, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about evergreen content.

To put it simply, the word “evergreen” is used because it refers to content that is always “fresh,” always relevant.

For example, many people consider the Dale Carnegie classic How to Win Friends and Influence People evergreen content. Basically, no matter what happens, these two abilities will always be important and relevant. In other words, no one will ever pick up his book and say, “Well, this isn’t how it works anymore.”

The opposite of evergreen content would be “5 Ways to Nail Webinar Hosting in 2017.” This information about webinar hosting may still be very useful, but its practicality will fade as time goes on. In 2020, most people probably won’t be too interested in how webinar hosting was best done three years ago.

Now that we have an understanding, let’s talk about how you can use evergreen content as part of an overall marketing strategy.

 

evergreen content is always fresh and relevant to your webinar audience

Ensure Your Webinar Content Is Actually “Evergreen”

Before you can leverage evergreen content in your webinars, you have to make sure the content you create really will stand the test of time.

For one thing, just as Carnegie did, you should pick principles to discuss. When you pick trendy advice or tips that rely too heavily on technology, you immediately limit how long your webinar will be valid.

For instance, it’s never going to be a bad idea to build a following for the sake of marketing. There will always be certain principles that work for this, too. Constantly staying on people’s radar by releasing high-quality content is an example. You could definitely expand on this in a way that would make it evergreen.

All this being said, don’t be too hard on yourself. Most would agree that all evergreen content has some kind of shelf life. You’d have a hard time hosting an effective webinar if you had to be hyper-general to ensure what you said would always be relevant.

Therefore, just ask yourself if you think your webinar will still be helpful in three to five years. If the answer is “yes,” you’re good to go.

 

Use Your Webinar as Part of a Funnel

Whether we’re talking about sales or marketing funnels, you need to attract people and then convince them that the rest of the path ahead will be worth it.

There are a number of ways you can do this, too.

However, if you have successfully hosted webinars in the past, this is a great piece to begin with or at least to offer up early on.

Everyone knows that webinars usually take more time and even money to do than other forms of content, so the fact that you’re giving one away speaks highly for you/your company. Webinars are also seen as higher-end content (provided they’re done well), which means you’ll be making a great first impression with your audience.

In essence, you’ll have them thinking, “Wow. If this webinar is the first form of content they provide, I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Use Your Webinar Page to Promote Others on Your Site

Alright, so let’s say you hosted a webinar and it went incredibly well. People loved it and it’s been shared a lot, even long after you actually released it. The fact that it’s evergreen has definitely helped.

One way to double down on its effectiveness is to include links to other pages on your site right below the webinar.

The page with the webinar is obviously getting a lot of traffic, right? As a result, Google is probably giving it a decent rank. If it’s not, the next tip will help.

You can spread the love Google is giving by linking to other pages from the one your webinar is on. Google will take this to mean that a page they highly value sees another one as valuable so they probably should, too.

Add Ads to Your Webinar

Along the same lines, you could go back and add an ad to your webinar. Say your company has a new service coming out; you could let people know by adding an ad at the beginning of your popular evergreen webinar.

Use Your Webinar Landing Page to Improve Your Keyword Ranking

Like we said, if you’re not seeing a boost in traffic from your webinar, we can help with that. Assuming it’s truly evergreen, it’s going to be useful for years to come, so you should look to make the most of it where your Google ranking is concerned.

This is very similar to the tip above. All you’re going to do is include the relevant keywords you want to rank for in the space below the video.

Now, don’t just throw them up there. Create a piece of content that expands on the webinar. Maybe use it to provide other helpful resources, too.

The keywords have to be relevant, of course but use ones that you know people would use in their searches.

For instance, let’s say we did a webinar on this very topic: “Evergreen Webinar Hosting and How to Use It in a Marketing Strategy.”

In the space below the webinar, we could create a checklist based on the advice we gave in the seminar. It would be easy enough to do this in such a way that keywords like “webinar hosting” and “evergreen webinars” would naturally fit into the overall piece.

Turn Your Webinar into a How-To Guide or Other Piece of Content

Speaking of which, some people may not appreciate your webinar hosting efforts as much as you would like or they might just prefer a different format. This doesn’t mean they’re out of your marketing strategy’s reach.

Just turn the webinar into some form of content they would appreciate. As we just mentioned, this could mean a “how-to” guide. That might be a blog post, but it could also be an infographic, podcast or something else.

Even if people give your webinar rave reviews, it can still be beneficial to turn it into some kind of content involving different media. Again, checklists are great for this. People may not want to watch your webinar all over again, but they’d probably love having a quick reference nearby.

Build on It

Another fantastic thing about evergreen content – which we touched on earlier – is that it’s usually a collection of principles or a discussion of one in particular.

You could do one on social proof, for example. This is when a company uses the positive reviews of customers to market themselves to others. You’ve probably seen television ads where restaurants show how packed their dining rooms are. The impression they’re trying to give you is that of, “If all these other people love it at our restaurant, you will, too.”

So say you hosted a webinar on social proof and it’s evergreen because you just concentrated on the principles involved.

You can then build on that by doing a second webinar on a similar topic. Maybe this one is “Advanced Methods of Using Social Proof.”

What’s great about this strategy is that it’s going to bring new life to the initial webinar. People who want to learn these advanced methods will have to make sure they covered their bases by watching the first one.

However, you only have to market that second one in order to get this secondary benefit.

Add an Email Request

Even if your webinar is completely free, you can still get a healthy return on it in the form of email addresses. Having these addresses would make it really easy to let former viewers know about a new webinar, especially if you made one following the last piece of advice we gave.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for email addresses right way, of course. You’re providing the public with free advice through a very helpful medium; it’s not uncalled for to request a simple email address in exchange.

If you didn’t do that originally, it’s not too late to do so when you notice your evergreen webinar getting a lot of traffic. In fact, it would be a terrible mistake not to. Your webinar hosting could be paying off in a big way with the addition of one simple plug-in.

Restrict Access to It

A lot of the advice we’ve given about getting more from your webinar hosting efforts relies on you leaving your seminar up and accessible at all times.

Another tactic you may want to go with, though, would involve taking it down, altogether.

Keep in mind, you could still use a lot of the tips we talked about earlier. You could still prompt people for their email addresses and just tell them that you’ll use them to send out a message when the webinar is back.

You can still repackage the content and use the page to rank keywords, too.

In some situations, though, your webinar may have been so effective that it would be extremely advantageous to withhold it from people. A lot of companies do this with their paid webinars. They only accept so many attendees to begin with as this creates artificial demand. It means they can charge that much more to access it in the future.

Whether you want to charge or not, if your webinar proved to be very popular, you might want to do the same thing. Increasing demand for anything – a service, product, piece of content, etc. – puts you in a very enviable position and gives you lots of options.

Add It to a Package Deal

If you do decide to charge for your webinar or otherwise restrict access to it, one way to take advantage of this demand is to then throw it in as a freebie when you’re offering your market something else.

It could be a new webinar; it could be a training program. Whatever the case, as part of your sales page, you’d mention that if people order right now (or in the next X days or whatever parameters you’d like), they’ll get your very popular webinar for free. Obviously, you’d want to spend a bit more time on talking the webinar up, but you get the idea. A potential buyer who was on the fence may click “buy” when they find out what a great value they’re getting.

Spread It Far and Wide

If you’re not going to restrict access to your webinar hosting program, then you should do the exact opposite: make sure it ends up all over the Internet.

You can provide a link to it in the email signatures you and your employees use, with anchor text that explains what it is.

You definitely want to put it on social media. Do multiple posts over the course of several months. Just make sure you post other things in between and that you always find new ways of introducing it or providing context (e.g. “Seeing as how everyone is talking about X at the moment, here’s a reminder that I did a webinar about it.”).

Share your webinar on your social media pages, too. For as long as it’s pinned, anyone who visits your page will immediately see that you have a webinar they can watch.

As we talked about at the beginning of this piece, webinar hosting is hard work and usually involves a certain amount of overhead.

To increase your ROI, make sure your webinar involves evergreen content. Then, utilize as many of the above tactics as possible to ensure it continues to support your marketing strategy.

Would you like help with these kinds of goals? If so, check out BigMarker. Creating and making the most of webinars are our areas of expertise. You can also send us a message if you have any questions!

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://hub.uberflip.com/blog/evergreen-content

http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/10/16/guide-to-evergreen-content-marketing

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/09/win-with-evergreen-content/

https://blog.hubspot.com/insiders/creating-evergreen-content

20 Types of Evergreen Content that Produce Lasting Results for Your Business

5 Things You Must Do Before Hosting Your First Webinar

Hosting a webinar is a project that should take careful thought, deliberation and focus – all of which involve time. You’re not doing your company a favor by haphazardly throwing together a webinar presentation and hoping it all goes well. Taking the time to prepare for a first webinar that you can be proud of, and leaves your audience engaged and excited should be your end-game. It’s important to remember that a webinar is not for you, it is for people watching the webinar.

Putting together a webinar sounds scary, particularly if it’s your first time! You’re not sure where to start, what to say or how do properly get your message across.

We put together a list of 5 things you must do before hosting your first webinar. Each of these steps will help you focus on the people attending the webinar and ensures you meet your own business objectives. These 5 things don’t even cover the meat of the webinar and how to put it together – these are just the things you need to do first before beginning that process! Building a great webinar is an art form, and we can help you do it the right way.

5 Things you must do before hosting your first webinar:

  1. Determine your webinar goals and objectives
  2. Select your webinar target audience
  3. Select a webinar topic
  4. Pick a webinar software
  5. Pick your webinar speaker(s)

These 5 things can even be considered your ‘prep work and must-do’s for each webinar.

 

#1: Determine Your Webinar Goals and Objectives

Ask yourself, ‘what are my webinar goals?’ When you are putting on a webinar, it should not be for your benefit only. The webinar should also be for those attending. Your first thought should always be, what topic would be useful for registrants, and help achieve my goals? For each webinar, you should come up with 1-3 goal statements.

Sample Goal Statements for Webinars:

To generate 50 new leads

To convert 5 prospects into customers

To build brand awareness for product ABC

To be a thought leader in our industry

To help with your goal of lead generation, for example, webinars are a great way to do this and use as a means of communication with prospects and customers. It is very common for an organization to build webinars that touch on pain points their audience is experiencing and in these webinars, they will then provide ways to alleviate this pain. Typically, this pain is solved through their product and service offerings.

When putting on a webinar, your goal should always be top of mind, but you don’t want a sales-y webinar or product-demo based webinar. Those are incredibly annoying AND boring for all participants involved.

Now that you have selected your goal(s), you need to pick what objectives will help you to achieve your goal.  If your goal is to generate new leads and build brand awareness, the way to do that is to not present your audience with just the features and benefits of a product. Instead, you want to provide webinar attendees with useful information that they can bring back to their job, all the while showing how to do that using your product. Even if you don’t bring in new leads, you are still providing your existing clientele with awesome information – which is a win/win!

When you are promoting a webinar, knowing the webinar objectives will go a long way in your messaging and you can better tailor your webinar invites, landing pages to these objectives and thus your target audience, which we will discuss below.

During this planning stage, you should also write a few objectives statements for why someone should attend your webinar and what they can expect to get out of it. This content will also help with the event registration write-up portion!

 

#2: Select Your Webinar Target Audience

Selecting your target market for the webinar is key. You must figure out what audience you want to speak to. Going back to your goals and objectives, if your goal is to generate 50 new leads then getting your webinar invite and registration page in front of the people who are more likely to be interested in your product and actually buy, will be crucial. If your organization has done the work to determine your buyer personas, this is exactly who your target audience is.

If you have not developed buyer personas, make that a to-do, as it will be highly beneficial for all marketing initiatives. Click on this link for more information on buyer personas and helping in your building yours!

Your target audience could be titles like Chief Marketing Officer or Director of IT, but your target market could also go by industry, such as education or government. If your goal is to generate new leads for the sales team, narrowing down your target audience will go a long way in ensuring the right people are attending your webinar and that the sales team is not wasting time in following up with unqualified leads.

Choose a topic for your first webinar that resonates with your audience

#3: Pick a Webinar Topic

When building your first webinar (or really any webinar!) picking a relevant topic is very important. The topic and title alone will be the deciding factor on if someone is interested in your webinar content and if it even applies to them. Go back to your target audience, and who the best fit for your webinar is… what topic is meaningful to them? How can you help them excel at their job or make their lives easier? If your audience can get a tangible takeaway from attending your webinar, you’ve done your job.

Picking a topic should be well researched and thought-out.  If your topic and content come from just one to two people, you are doing it all wrong. The best way to ensure a webinar is successful is to understand what is important to your target audience.

Here is a couple of ways to determine what is meaningful to your target audience:

  1. Survey your customer support & sales team. Do they notice any trends or top questions being asked? What are the biggest pain points they hear on sales calls?
  2. Survey your existing customers on pain points. Why did they pick your product and solution? How did your product solve that pain? And even just ask what topics they are interested in and likely to register for.
  3. Survey existing sales prospects to ask questions on why they had an interest in your products. From their answers, you can find trends that you may need to speak to help prospects learn more about how your product/business will be beneficial for them and lead them down the buyer’s journey from a prospect to a customer.
  4. Research current market trends on your industry and ask subject matter experts in your field.

As a follow-up after your first webinar, it’s a good time to also survey your webinar registrants what next webinar topic they are likely to attend – this will help in planning a series of webinars and building a consistent schedule. Your best content will come from your prospects and customers – make sure you keep those ears open and listen!

With all of this surveying and research complete, you should then have a list of potential topics or pain points to select from. Take a step back, and review this list and see:

  1. What is an interesting topic that people would be excited about
  2. Do you have someone that can speak to these topics

 

pick software that meets your first webinar needs

 

#4: Pick a Software to Host Your Webinar

Now that you’ve determined the goals, objectives, target audience and potential topics for your very first webinar you need to figure out how you’re going to actually deliver your webinar! There are tons of web conferencing, webinar hosting and video conferencing solutions out there to choose from. Knowing the goal of your webinar will help you to pick the best webinar hosting platform for your organization.

Far too often webinars are a simple screen share with little to no engagement with your audience outside of a chat box. This is not the route you want to go if you really want to develop a relationship with your audience and encourage further interactions.

When picking a software to host your first webinar pay special attention to the experience your registrants will have.

Things to think about:

  1. Is it easy for them to register and attend the webinar? Do they have to download plugins?
  2. Are there email reminders?
  3. What engagement tools is included in the webinar software? Chat, polling, Q&A options? Social media engagement opportunities?

Remember: A webinar is about your audience, it isn’t about you. When picking a webinar solution, keep your audience top of mind, always!

Additionally, what additional webinar services does the potential solution have? Are you on your own if should you run into an issue with the platform? How can you get help when you need it? There is nothing more embarrassing than being unable to manage your webinar live. Make sure your webinar provider has your back. This can be the difference between a good experience or a bad one that hurts your business’ reputation.

 

#5: Pick Your Webinar Speakers

Once you’ve decided on the above #1-4 things, one of the biggest deciding factors in a successful webinar is your webinar speaker!

Your speaker or speakers should identify to the target audience you picked. They should be relatable, speak their language (meaning, has similar experiences to those attending the webinar) and have a strong, confident presence both in the tone of voice and how they look on the screen should they turn on their webcam.

Another important thing on selecting the right webinar speaker is deciding if they are tech savvy! Your speaker might have to run the webinar software, do they have the skills to be able to manage this platform AND present? Some web conferencing providers offer webinar services that can help you manage the platform during the live event, but what if your budget doesn’t allow for this? Ensuring the speaker is well prepared in managing the conferencing software in and out is imperative for the success of the webinar.

Another final note on selecting a webinar speaker is making sure the speaker is a professional. Do you know if your webinar speaker will show up on time for dry-runs and even the day of the live event? The webinar speaker can’t show up late! When preparing for your webinar dry-runs (which you should do at least 3-5 dry-runs per webinar to work out all the kinks), does the speaker have their content ready, are they prepared to run through the entire presentation? Having the answer to these questions before picking your speaker will go a long way in ensuring your webinar is a smooth process and that they are prepared for your audience and leave a positive, lasting impression.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve read through our top 5 things you must do before your first webinar you are ready to begin this new, exciting initiative. Putting on a webinar is a great experience, especially if you’re prepared. Think of your webinar as a show – preparation for any show is key, and should you do this prep work you’ll be sure to get a standing ovation from your audience.

If you want to host your first webinar on modern, easy-to-use software, check out BigMarker and start your 14-day free trial today! Have a question? We’re here to help! Send us a message.

The Keys to Hosting a Successful Webinar

Webinar hosting isn’t as easy as it often looks.

Truly successful webinars are the result of detailed planning and practice. However, no matter how much time it takes on the part of those hosting the event, when done correctly, it’s always worth it.

If you’re hoping to host a webinar in the near future, consider the following advice.

 

Webinar Hosting and Webinar Marketing Customizable Landing Pages

 

Decide on a Promising Webinar Topic

Whatever you do, don’t “go with your gut.” This is often very tempting because people naturally – and understandably – assume that they know their market well enough that no brainstorming is required.

To begin thinking about your topic, consider where it is your market already goes for news and information. There are probably a few popular sites in your industry that would be great for researching your idea.

Go through their archives with an eye for relevant topics. This won’t take as long as you might think because you’ll probably be skipping over most of them as they just won’t be right for your company.

You also only want to go back about a year. There’s no sense in covering old news.

Another easy way to brainstorm your webinar hosting topic idea is to check out industry forums. These are great because they’re packed with questions from your market. Any questions can be easily converted into a provocative idea for a webinar as you’ll be offering a valued solution.

In either case, engagement is key. Don’t simply go with a topic because you see it on an industry site or forum and know it’s something you could cover well.

Instead, on a blog, look to see how many social shares and comments it has gotten relative to others. In forums, check to see how many people have viewed the thread and offered their own insights.

Of course, if you already have an impressive social media following, you can just ask them what they’d like you to talk about. Aside from the obvious reason of getting a popular idea from this audience, this method comes with the added benefit of letting people know about your upcoming webinar in advance.

 

Consider Interviewing an Expert

One more word on picking a topic for your webinar: consider speaking with an expert in your industry. Many of them may be willing to do so for free. After all, you’ll only need them for a half-hour or so and, in exchange, they’ll be receiving marketing from a whole new channel.

Of course, depending on your budget, paying for the benefit of speaking with an expert on your webinar will be totally worth it.

An industry expert will definitely have information to offer your audience, as well. In fact, instead of a “topic”, you can simply market that you’ll be talking to this well-respected expert about and then list a series of topics.

You can still tap your social media following, too. Tell them about your upcoming interview and ask for any questions they’d like you to pose to this expert.

If the expert also has a social media following, you’ll be looking at a fantastic opportunity for cross-promotion. They’ll let their followers know about their upcoming interview with you, which will mean even more viewers.

Finally, the last benefit about interviewing experts on your webinar is that it elevates your brand. While talking to an expert doesn’t make you an expert, the fact that someone with such lofty credentials is willing to take time out of their day to speak to you certainly says something about the prestige of your organization.

 

Create a High-Quality Webinar Registration Page

While it may seem like a small detail, your webinar registration page may be one of the first impressions you make with your audience. The better you do with this impression, the more likely people will be to anticipate a great webinar. This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but, at the same time, it means that if your webinar registration page isn’t very promising, even those who still decide to attend may be far less likely to enjoy themselves.

Fortunately, registration pages are pretty simple to make.

First, have a compelling headline. It must get people interested and excited about your webinar hosting. Don’t lie, of course, but you should avoid being vague or boring at all costs.

Second, summarize what you’ll be talking about during your webinar. Use bullet points where appropriate as these are much easier to get through. Every subject you’re going to cover in the webinar should be mentioned and each should be tied to some kind of benefit that your audience will receive.

Third, tell the reader a little bit about yourself (or whoever is going to be doing the webinar hosting). You want the reader to feel comfortable that the person they’ll be hearing from is truly an authority on this topic. Include a professional image.

If you’re going to be including anyone else on the webinar, like a co-host or an interviewee, do the same with them.

Fourth, don’t forget about the date, time and time zone of your webinar. Some people like to use countdown timers on these pages, too, as they often create a sense of urgency. This is far from mandatory, though.

 

webinar hosting easy webinar registration

 

Make It Easy to Sign Up

One thing to avoid on these pages is too many demands regarding the listener’s registration information. You want to put the bare minimum amount of steps between people and registering for your webinar.

Typically, companies just ask for a listener’s name and email address. If you want to add a couple other easy boxes to fill in because the information will be helpful in the future (e.g. age, industry, etc.), that’s fine, but don’t go overboard.

 

Host a Practice Webinar

Before you ever host a webinar, make sure you perform a practice run. You’d hate for all your hard work and preparation to fall flat because of some silly mistake. Aside from simply practicing your performance, be sure to go back and watch how it looks on your computer and mobile devices (if they’ll be available that way). Again, it would be awful to learn that your performance was flawless, but, say, the audio was off and didn’t turn out very clear.

 

Send Out an Email Reminder

Ideally, people are so excited about your webinar hosting abilities that they’re counting down the minutes until they can finally log in and start watching. At the very least, you’d hope they’d put the time and date on their calendars.

Still, you can probably appreciate how busy people are these days. Don’t risk losing a single audience member over this. Instead, send out reminder emails – one the week of the event and one the day of. This will help keep people from forgetting. Some people even send an email 15 minutes before they begin as one final reminder.

 

record-the-webinar-for-future-viewing

 

Record the Webinar for Future Viewing

There’s nothing wrong with doing your webinar hosting live if that’s something you’re comfortable with. Again, practice will go a long way to ensuring this goes well.

Nonetheless, some people simply won’t be able to make the time you picked for your presentation. Even with all the email reminders you send, others will just forget about it.

To maximize the number of people who watch your webinar, record it and keep it on your site so viewers can come back later. As we’ll point out in a moment, you can drive traffic to your webinar for years to come with other sources of content, too.

 

Use Micro-Commitments Throughout the Webinar

When it comes to webinar hosting, how you organize it will depend on the topic you’re covering and your intended audience.

That being said, unless you only plan to speak for about 10 minutes or so, you’ll want to use micro-commitments to keep people’s interest for as long as possible.

Simply put, micro-commitments get your listeners to “agree” – whether consciously or subconsciously – to stick around for another 5 or 10 minutes.

At the beginning of your webinar, it helps if you also bring up all of the subjects you’re going to cover and, as we talked about earlier, the various benefits they can expect to receive.

Basically, you want to immediately make them excited about what they’ll be getting out of this webinar.

Then, throughout your presentation, remind them of what’s coming up. You might mention how the topic you’re currently talking about has one benefit, but when the listener combines it with the understanding they’re about to receive about another topic, the benefits will be far greater.

This sort of promise will make the viewer think, “Well, I’m definitely sticking around to then, at least.”

By using micro-commitments throughout, you stand a much better chance of getting listeners to stay until the end of your webinar and reap the greatest rewards.

 

finish-with-a-qa

 

Finish with a Q&A

Again, your precise webinar hosting structure will depend on the topic you’re going to cover. It will also depend on your purpose. For example, if you’re trying to sell a product at the end of the webinar, it’s going to look a lot different than if you’re simply trying to build your authority.

In any case, it’s usually a good idea to end with a Q&A. You’ll need webinar hosting software that supports this option, of course, but most of them do, nowadays.

The great thing about this section is that, whether you’re selling yourself or a product, you have the opportunity to make sure no one is left in the dark. No matter how well you scripted your webinar, this is always a risk if you don’t give people the option to chime in.

Furthermore, you’ll get a much better idea of what to say next time to make certain all the important topics are covered in detail.

 

Follow Up With Attendees After the Webinar

Too many people think that the moment they’re done with their actual webinar hosting duties, there’s nothing more to do.

This is a very shortsighted view, though. As it turns out, you can actually get far more from your webinar hosting efforts even after the presentation is over.

First, make sure you email the recording out to everyone who signed up for it. Most experts say that somewhere around 30% of those who sign up for your webinar won’t actually show up for it. There could be all kinds of reasons for this, but sending them the webinar recording to view later greatly increases your chances of many more people seeing it.

Second, consider how it could play a role in future content marketing efforts. When appropriate, you can link to your webinar from blogs. This will take readers to your webinar hosting page where they can immediately begin viewing it.

Another way to make the most of your webinar hosting efforts is to actually take the content and turn it into blog posts. You probably have a lot of good info there that could be used for long-form blogs. Again, make sure you point out that the information you’re covering can be found on your webinar hosting page.

If you received any interesting questions during your webinar, these may also make for good blog post topics. Your audience will also appreciate that you think enough of them to make sure their questions receive this much attention.

Although the above may seem like a lot of work, it’s what it takes to get the most from webinar hosting. The only other thing we have to add is practice. No matter how well your first webinar goes, remember that you’ll get better and better with each one going forward.

 

Start Hosting!

At BigMarker, we make web conferencing software that takes the guesswork out of putting on a truly impressive webinar. Combine our platform with the above advice and you’ll soon find you have no issue getting people to sign up for ongoing webinars.

 

Have a question? We’re here to help. Email inquiries@bigmarker.com.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/resources/the-15-best-webinar-software-products-from-around-the-web

http://socialmedia.biz/2011/01/19/sizing-up-15-top-web-conferencing-services/

http://blog.thinkific.com/the-complete-guide-to-selling-on-webinars/

https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33540/18-Ways-to-Guarantee-Nobody-Misses-Your-Next-Webinar.aspx#sm.000011dwb1h6t8epau77f3bhms60v

http://blog.247webcasting.com/7-things-your-ceo-wants-to-know-about-webinars

https://smartblogger.com/blog-topic/

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232489