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.

Hacks for Crafting a Killer Webinar Presentation – Part 1: The Webinar Content

Crafting a killer webinar presentation is not simple, but with this two-part blog series, you will have the perfect tutorial at your fingertips to learn how to craft your very own killer webinar presentation that delivers results.

This blog series is ideal for those who want to host webinars, but don’t have the budget for an in-house content writer or graphic designer to help pull together killer webinar presentations. The good news is, you don’t need that in-house expertise! As long as you or someone internally is an expert on the content topic you wish to speak about, you can still pull off a professional webinar presentation that will be sure to impress.

A webinar presentation utilizes a PowerPoint 99.9% of the time unless you are hosting a webinar demo of a software platform. This PowerPoint presentation is the focus of the webinar and what your webinar attendees will be looking at throughout the length of the entire presentation. Since it is the star, it is important to build your webinar presentation with a solid foundation. That solid foundation is your content. The content is your webinar script.

It is not ideal to start building your webinar presentation before your script. I’ve met way too many webinar speakers that prefer to just “wing it” when it comes to what they will be saying during the live webinar. If you’re a charismatic speaker and know your content inside and out, the webinar might still go well, but you will be doing your webinar audience a disservice.

 

Here is why winging it is never a good idea:

  1. You’re able to easily get off track as you didn’t properly plan on how to deliver the content
  2. You might share information that confuses attendees or not share enough information
  3. If you’re stressed out before the webinar, sick, or having a bad day – you might lose focus and forget key points or stories that would enhance the content of webinar
  4. You’re more likely to be nervous, as each slide you look at you will have to think of what to say, vs. already knowing what to say

 

These are just a few reasons, but there are so many more! A webinar presentation script is your life boat. It helps you to be confident in what you’re saying and knowing you are delivering the very best content to your audience, at the right time in the live webinar presentation.

Considering the webinar script is the foundation of your webinar presentation we are going to review in-depth how to prepare your script and then how to use that script to select the content for your webinar presentation.

First start you will start with a Word document to note all your ideas, points you want to make and the flow of the webinar presentation you are aiming for. It is much easier to start from one continuous document, than going directly to PowerPoint and figuring it out from there.

Once you have down the direction you want, it’s time to start building your script on that same Word document, from start to finish.

When I say script, I mean you really want to write down each word you plan on speaking during the live webinar. Of course, you can’t script the Q&A section, or what you might say based on your audience’s poll answers or chat comments (and you most definitely need to comment or relate to those answers!), but that will be the only time you need to think of what to say – the rest of your webinar presentation track will be a well-oiled machine. That way if a webinar attendee asks a question that you know you will be covering later in the webinar, you can tell them to stay tuned, vs. side-tracking the whole webinar  presentation to answer that question and potentially confuse other attendees who don’t understand the concept yet.

As you build your script, include the following 9 parts. Through writing down content for all 9 parts, you will then have your entire talk track ready for the day of the webinar and ensure it aligns with your webinar presentation PowerPoint content and what main points you want your webinar attendees to takeaway.

Additionally, during your dry-runs, as you read out loud your webinar presentation script to your team, as a group you can collaborate on gaps in content or chunky transitions. With this feedback, you can quickly update your script so that the live webinar is seamless and you can ensure you are hitting on all the reasons your webinar attendees signed up to attend in the first place.

 

The 9 Parts of a Webinar Presentation Script

 

  1. Greeting

During this greeting portion, you will welcome your webinar attendees, thank them for joining, perhaps note a few housekeeping items. You will then introduce yourself and your company, what you do and why you are relevant to speak on this topic. If you have co-webinar speakers, have them introduce themselves as well.

It would be a good idea to run through a very quick tutorial for using the webinar platform from an attendee perspective if you plan to have participants interact with the webinar platform to chat or fill out a poll, for example. Basically, whatever information that is important for you to share to ensure a successful webinar should be stated here before getting started.

Tip: If you do plan on interacting with your webinar attendees through poll, chat or other webinar engagement features like social sharing or white-boarding, you should decide at what times you would like this interaction to happen and place it in your script accordingly so that you do not forget to invite them to write an answer in the chat or fill out the poll at the times it makes sense during the content delivery.

 

Beginning your webinar presentation

 

  1. Agenda

Run through the agenda of the webinar presentation. Your agenda should have 3-5 bullets on what you plan on covering, each bullet should be for a different section of the webinar, and you’ll want to say how long each section should take to review and how long you intend for Q&A at the end of the webinar to answer questions.

To create a “section” you will want to break up the content you intend for them to learn in different chunks as to create the different elements of the webinar. Through doing this, it will make the delivery of content easy to understand in sizable chunks.

As an example of different sections, your first bullet on your agenda could be “The What”, second bullet can be “The Why”, third can be “The How” fourth bullet could be “The When”.

 

  1. Objectives

Write out the objectives of attending this webinar. You could talk about what your attendees will get out of being there, possible next steps after the webinar, or what webinar attendees will now be able to do because of participating in your webinar.

 

  1. Separate Sections for Each Agenda Item

This will be the bulk of your script as you are writing out the content for the entire reason people are attending your webinar in this part. This content is founded on your agenda and objectives of the webinar presentation.

Based on the sections you selected in your agenda and using the example in #2 (the what, why, how, when sections), you will write out all the content you want to say that explains each section individually. You will start with section 1 and write down everything you plan on saying to explain this section, and then move on to section 2, and so on. It is important for clarity that you don’t jump around the different sections during your script, as you might confuse your attendees. Of course, the content should build on each other – stay away from language like, “we will discuss this in section 4” if you are still in section 1.

 

  1. Stories and examples

Your script might include stories and examples alongside the main content for each of your sections.

These are great to include to further explain your point or concept. Another place to include these is after you have reviewed all the sections on your agenda, and then you share stories or examples to reinforce the content in a different way after your audience has had time to process the primary content.

Regardless of how you do it, ensure you have enough relatable stories or examples to include in the content. Stories help your audience understand complex ideas and for them to imagine taking the content and implementing it into their world.

 

Use stories in the content of your webinar presentation

 

  1. Recap / Takeaways

Once you’ve completed section #5 and #6, you will recap what you have shared today, why you have shared it and the top 3-5 things you hope your audience takes away and remembers post-webinar.

During this part would be a good time to encourage your audience to fill out a poll on the favorite thing they heard today, or start the Q&A portion.

 

  1. Next Steps for Attendees

When hosting a webinar, there is usually a next step or action you’d like your webinar audience to take. Perhaps that could be registering for another webinar, downloading an eBook, signing up for a one-on-one demo or encouraging them to buy your product. Whatever it is, give them all the information needed to make that next step. You don’t even want to assume they know what the next step is, or how to complete that step.

  1. Contact information

Share all the ways to get ahold of you, the webinar speaker, or the company you are speaking on behalf of. Include emails, phone numbers, websites and social sites.

 

  1. Closing Comments

Thank them for attending and if there is anything left unsaid, now is the time to say it or continue to reinforce the next action you’d like them to take and how it would benefit them.

As you write your script, take special care to write it out in a conversational tone as you would speak. Write out whole sentences, not fragments – that way if you get nervous or tripped up, you know exactly where to pick back up. And most importantly – practice, practice, practice your script until you can read it as though you are not actually reading from a script. Additionally, time yourself reading your script out loud to ensure you’ve written enough content to last the entire webinar presentation, or see if you need to cut content, as it could be too long.

Once your webinar script is complete and you feel comfortable delivering it as is, even without the aid of a PowerPoint, you can start building the webinar presentation PowerPoint!

You will use this final script to pull from for the content you place on your webinar PowerPoint slides. Take your script and using the highlight feature in Word, highlight the most important elements from each of the above 9 webinar script parts. The idea is to transition these parts to your PowerPoint slides. Building your webinar presentation PowerPoint will be quick and easy following this method.

Note, you will not actually copy and paste your highlighted content directly onto your slides. Instead, you will want to shorten your talk track into short, digestible snippets or “call-outs” to place on your slides.

 

Part 2 Teaser

In Part 2 of this blog series, I will share a sample PowerPoint template which includes what slides to include in your webinar presentation based on the 9 parts of the webinar script. Additionally, each slide in the template will have examples of the type of content to put on these slides. So don’t start building your webinar PowerPoint yet.

In Part 2 we will first review how to design and build your webinar presentation PowerPoint, then how to place your content on this final PowerPoint design and finally tips for adding images to enhance the final look of the PowerPoint.

Check out Part 2 Here

 

Get started!

To host an amazing webinar presentation, you’ll need premium webinar software.

Start your free trial of BigMarker today or send us a message to get in touch!

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.

Webinar Hosting Mistakes You're Probably Making and How to Avoid Them

Quality webinars are great for building up an audience, selling products and services and getting your name out there.

However, if you don’t avoid the following mistakes, your webinar will be more trouble than it’s worth.

 

Not Hosting Webinars

If you’re here reading this, you’re probably not going to make this mistake, so we’ll keep it quick. If you’re here because you’re thinking about hosting a webinar but aren’t sure if you should, we would heartily recommend it.

Any time you can leverage another form of media – whether it’s webinar hosting, infographics, podcasts, etc. – you stand to win in a big way. You now have one more channel for reaching your audience.

Sure, it might make you nervous at first, but that’s no reason to write off webinar hosting entirely. You’d hate to find out that it was the exact medium your market loves most after a competitor was so successful with it.

Using the Wrong Webinar Technology

“If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

We’ve all heard this line before. It definitely holds true, though, when it comes to webinar software.

If you’ve ever seen a webinar done with a low-quality camera and/or software, you know that it’s like the world’s slowest train wreck. It’s incredibly sad, too, because, most of the time, the person hosting the webinar has put a lot of time and effort into what they were going to say. They may even have a lot riding on the results.

Unfortunately, their technology stood in the way.

Whether it’s fair or not, people will judge your webinar hosting abilities based on the result. They’ll do the same for your company and its products/services. No matter how much you know or how great your products/services are, if their webinar experience is poor, your attendees will leave with a bad impression.

The good news is that high-quality webinar software doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. Premium hosting packages start at just $19/month, which won’t break the bank if you’re hosting webinars on a small budget.

Not Hosting a Practice Run

Presumably, one of the reasons people go ahead with hosting a webinar even when they’re using unreliable webinar technology is because they don’t know about it. This wouldn’t be an issue if everyone did a practice run first. By doing so, you’ll get an opportunity to check the visuals and sound levels. You can also test to see how the webinar displays for your audience.

Aside from ensuring your webinar technology is working properly, doing a practice run will help you work through any nerves you might have or simply troubleshoot your script. Something that sounds good on paper or in your head may come off a lot differently when you say it aloud.

Sharing Too Much Content

If you’re going to make a mistake with your webinar hosting, this may seem like a fairly forgivable one. Nonetheless, it’s still a problem that will negatively impact your presentation, so do your best to avoid it.

This issue often manifests itself when the webinar host uses text-heavy slides. Regardless of how much content you’ve planned to cover during your webinar, slides containing lots of text often run the risk of losing the attention of your audience.

Every time a slide changes, that’s an opportunity to bring people back to what you’re talking about. Any change of scenery will do this (more on that in a moment). It’s only natural for your eyes to be drawn to a sudden movement like that.

Take advantage of this by keeping the text on your slides lean.

There’s no magic formula for this. Everyone’s presentation is a bit different. When you practice, though, try to get a sense for if you’re spending way too much time on a slide or if it’s otherwise becoming stale.

Not Mixing Up Your Media

A webinar that features nothing but you speaking into the camera is probably not going to be very interesting for your audience. Sorry. Get as dressed up as you want, but it’s just not going to be enough.

Think about it: people are on their computers watching you, right? Your webinar hosting is competing with everything on their mobile devices, notifications from social media, emails and more.

Aside from using lots of slides, you also need to think about other ways you can grab their attention.

This could mean photos, illustrations, videos, graphics, animations, etc. Slides with text are great, but even then, use some color and an appropriate font. If your slides are nothing but black and white, you have some work to do.

marketing and promotion tips for hosting webinars

Not Doing Enough Marketing/Promotion

Depending on how you look at it, webinar hosting might be a lot harder or a lot worse if no one is watching. On the one hand, there’s no pressure if you hardly have anyone signed up. Of course, that kind of defeats the purpose of the webinar.

If you agree that it would be better to have the pressure that comes with a large audience, then please make sure you thoroughly promote your webinar.

Regardless of how big or small your social media following is, push yourself to continuously share your webinar on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn two weeks before you go live. Refrain from sharing too much further in advance, though, as people may not want to add a webinar to their schedules if it’s too far out in the future.

Aside from spreading the word on social media, you should be leveraging the traffic on your website. Every single person who comes to your site should immediately know that you have a webinar coming up.

If you don’t have a lot of traffic, try guest posting on popular industry blogs. This can help bring traffic to your site. Just make sure you’re talking about a topic that’s relevant to your presentation.

You may be able to buy ad space on these sites, as well. Don’t just tell people you’ll be webinar hosting in the near future, though. Make sure your ad brings them to a landing page where they can sign up.

Obviously, these types of approaches will take a bit more time, but if you’re starting with nothing, they’ll be worth it for the sake of your hosting efforts.

Not Reminding People About Your Webinar

Everyone’s busy these days, so you shouldn’t take it personally when you start hosting webinars and find that a lot of people who signed up for it aren’t present. Many people will simply forget because they have so many things going on.

Also, keep in mind that, for free webinars, the majority probably won’t turn up. Statistics vary, but conventional wisdom seems to be that if 30% of the people who signed up for your webinar hosting program actually show up, that’s acceptable.

Nonetheless, make sure you’re sending out reminders anyway. When people sign up, you should get their emails so put them to good use.

Make sure you remind people a week before, a day before, the morning of and an hour before your webinar.

On the day of, your emails should include a link they can click to be taken directly to your webinar’s page. You want to make it as easy as humanly possible to get people to your event.

Forgetting to Follow Up

What?

More emails?

Yes!

If you want your webinar hosting efforts to be worth it, then yes, more emails.

You should be sending one out to everyone to thank them for their attendance. If you did a Q&A session (more on that in a minute) after the formal presentation, then thank those who asked questions and add anything you didn’t think of on the fly.

This is also a good email to get more people to watch the replay of your webinar if you recorded it.

People should read the thank you message and think, “Wow. That sounds like it was really informative. I guess I’ll go ahead and watch it.”

A follow up email is a great way to get your webinar in front of even more people.

If you’re hosting webinars to sell a product, this is a no-brainer. You have an objective ROI tied to your presentation, so one or two more emails are definitely worth it if they increase your purchases.

This is why one final email a week or two after the follow up is okay. Again, give some more information to your readers or offer an insight from the webinar and then link to it again.

hosting webinars with interactive features

 

Ending Without a Q&A

No matter how much you prepare for your webinar– including a practice run – you’ll never cover every single piece of information possible. There’s just no way there won’t be people in the audience who want more or need clarification about a certain topic.

Now, think about one of these people on the other side of your webinar. They’ve enjoyed themselves and they like a lot of what you’ve said, but they just can’t seem to make sense of one of your points.

Unfortunately, if you get to the end of your webinar and simply thank everyone and sign off, they’re sitting there with no resolution. Maybe they’ll be able to find their answer online, but that certainly won’t help you.

This is why you should leave time for a Q&A at the end. If your webinar is supposed to be an hour, make it 50 minutes and then ask for questions. Tell your audience you’ll stick around for as long as questions keep coming in, too. If this means 15 minutes, fine. If it means an hour, so be it.

Q&As are such important forms of engagement that you should never host a webinar without them. Again, if you’re doing one to sell a product, you could potentially miss out on a customer because they had question and you weren’t around to give an answer.

Never Hosting Live Webinars

There’s no doubt about it: webinar hosting can do a serious number on your nerves. Most people don’t like to do public speaking to begin with, much less the kind that can be seen all over the world by a group of faceless thousands.

If you want to record your first one or two, do it. However, as soon as you’re even remotely comfortable, start hosting your webinars live.

We already covered the main reason for this: it allows you to do the all-important Q&A sessions.

Live webinars simply flow better, too. There’s a different energy when you know you only have one take and can’t always word everything perfectly. People who are watching will feel a stronger sense of connection to you, too.

You can always record them live and put them online for people to watch, as well. As we mentioned earlier, you should be encouraging people to come back and watch again and again.

Forgetting to Have Fun

We’re dead serious about this.

If you hate hosting webinars and view them as a chore, that will come across to your audience. No matter how much you smile or how much awesome information you cover, it will be clear that you’d rather be somewhere else.

Don’t be hard on yourself for having nerves about doing a webinar. It’s natural. Practice will help a lot, but you’ll still probably feel some butterflies the first time you see the light on your camera and know you’re live.

The trick is to have fun with it, though. Not only will your audience appreciate it (they know they’d be nervous too, by the way), but it will make things that much easier when it’s time to do it again.

Conclusion

Webinars are an art form and, like any form of art, they take practice to get good at. Fortunately, you don’t have to be perfect to put on an effective webinar. Just remember to avoid the above mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to success.

If you want help with this, BigMarker is here. Check out our blog for more free advice or leave a question in the comments below.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesinsights/2015/02/19/6-common-webinar-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them/#712666f14229

http://communications.on24.com/10-common-webinar-mistakes

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/education/white-paper-library/10-common-webinar-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them-white-paper/

http://www.smartsimplemarketing.com/7-common-webinar-mistakes-avoid/

5 Rookie Webinar Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

5 Ways to Host More Effective, Engaging Webinars

Webinar software grants the unique opportunity to connect with the masses instantly, making it an effective way to expedite the impact of any specific message. However, if you want your audience to retain your message it is imperative to structure a presentation that encourages attendee interaction. In this article we will share five tips for hosting more effective, engaging webinars.

Know The Challenges Associated With Video Conferencing Solutions

Despite the many benefits offered by webinar hosting, it’s important to remember that this particular medium is still, at its core, a meeting. Like other meeting formats, web conferencing often faces one formidable opponent: distraction.

Attendees of both virtual and live gatherings face a multitude of potential disruptions at any given moment, and often simultaneously. Incoming emails, text messages, and phone calls can inundate your audience throughout your time together, tempting them to tune you out and focus on other things.

Also, unlike in-person meetings, these online conferences don’t provide real-time attendee responses and visual cues. The absence of body language and facial expressions from your attendees can sometimes make it challenging to determine how well a presentation is going, or effectively gauge crowd focus. In order to achieve maximum success with your listeners, it’s critical to carefully craft an engaging webinar that commands (and holds) attention from start to finish.

 

5 Tips to Keep Webinar Attendees Tuned-In

Once you recognize some of the similarities and differences between live and virtual conferences, you can proactively strategize ways to keep your audience captivated and engaged.  When putting together your presentation, consider these five important suggestions to create compelling material that resonates with attendees and leaves a lasting impression.

 

hosting engaging webinars boost longterm focus

 

Tip #1: Pick an Enticing Webinar Topic

Topic selection should top your priority list when developing your presentation. The best way to choose a pertinent subject is to know your targeted audience. Rather than settling for a generic, (read: overdone) theme, familiarize yourself with your attendees so you can chose a distinctive topic that adds a perceived value.

Don’t strive to simply inform; instead, make your ultimate goal to address and solve a specific problem your viewers may face. Beyond knowing your audience, you should also know your subject matter. In short, teach what you know. Select a focus area where you can establish yourself as an invaluable resource to gain the crowd’s trust.

Even if you know your audience and subject matter, you still may struggle to identify a relevant focus. Tap into available resources to help with your search, beginning with your existing blog and social media accounts. Scan through your articles and page updates to find topics that proactively solicited follower comments and subsequent shares. These popular posts can offer an invaluable starting point for material that your guests will want to learn more about.

If you find you’re still struggling to find something worth discussing, ask your audience. Send out a questionnaire with specific inquiries about existing trends and issues they’d like to learn more about. Asking for their input can prove a powerful way to get their buy in before you kick off your event.

Bonus Topic Note: Once you’ve designated your topic and created your outline, get the word out. Use social media to connect with the crowd well before your lecture date. Create a unique hashtag for your workshop and begin sharing it on all your pages to promote the value and benefits your session will deliver. Relevant posts that use your designated hashtag can help pique interest, encourage followers to share information about your event and even serve as a way to interact with attendees after your webinar for added influence.

 

Tip #2: Remember Content Is King

Choosing an enticing subject is not enough. In order to ensure successful, engaging webinars, you must develop high-quality, relevant content to truly captivate your attendees and hold their attention. When creating your materials, employ both visual and audio strategies to deliver an optimal sensory experience.

Start with your visual presentation. Incorporate eye-catching colors, bold images and easy-to-read graphs to command attention. Use concise text on each page that you can elaborate on verbally throughout your lecture. When using graphs and charts, don’t embellish; use proven data and statistics to establish trust with listeners. Finally, refresh slides often (a general rule of thumb is to refresh to a new slide every 2 minutes) to maintain a dynamic, stimulating visual throughout the meeting.

You should also carefully consider your verbal content component. Talk to your guest, not at them to encourage their investment in your message. Resist the urge to dive right into your list of action items and meeting agenda; it runs the risk of kicking off your web conference with a giant virtual yawn.

Instead, start your time together by sharing a compelling, yet relevant, anecdote that sets an inviting tone and grabs your audience’s focus. Once you’ve garnered their interest, move forward with your presentation, addressing them as individuals (rather than a group) as often as possible to personalize each listener’s overall experience. 

Bonus Content Note: Many speakers hand out all webinar slides and notes prior to the session, for various reasons. Some want guests to familiarize themselves with the material in advance. Others send the material as a backup in case something goes awry with their online connection. Whatever the motivation, many attendees may simply view an advanced glimpse of a presentation as an invitation to multitask (read emails, answer calls, etc.) during the conference, confident they can catch up on the information later. Build their anticipation by keeping your materials to yourself until after the initial discussion.

Tip #3: Encourage Participation

Perhaps the quickest way to lose listeners? Failing to recognize that it’s not a video monologue, it’s a video conference. Audience interaction and participation are two major advantages of implementing engaging webinars. Yet, many hosts fail to engage guests in an active discussion; instead, they race through their presentation by rote, without allowing for questions and comments.

Don’t miss out on the chance to connect and interact with your audience. Online polls and surveys offer an excellent way to stimulate dialogue and collaboration. You can also ask questions directly as needed.

Strive to acknowledge your attendees in some way at least every 10 minutes by strategically dispersing interaction opportunities consistently throughout your demonstration.

Also, nothing says you have to wait until the end of the demonstration to host an official Q&A session. Breaking up your Q&A segments allows listeners a chance to ask questions while the content is still fresh in their minds. As a result, you instantly keep guests tuned in and mentally engaged throughout the session. 

Additionally, focusing too much on yourself can hinder crowd participation in a major way. Taking too long to outline your professional bio, prolonging details about your company and elongating professional accomplishments not only throws out a slightly self-absorb vibe, it also makes your guests feel like you don’t value their time. Go into your conference assuming that everyone attending has already looked up everything they want to know about you (because they have), keep your intro short and get right into hosting your engaging webinar as quickly as possible. You can always include links throughout your presentation so guests can check out relevant details about you after the session has ended.

Tip #4: Practice Your Delivery

Online trainings and workshops often require just a little extra rehearsal on your end. From a technology perspective, you have two vital components to master before you go live: your slide deck and your webinar software. Hosts of engaging webinars should work to master both in advance of the conference to avoid any glitches that may distract listeners.

You will also need to practice your presentation style before the big day. Consider your speaking strengths and weaknesses to develop the best delivery possible. For example, nervous speakers tend to rush through the lecture too quickly. If you find yourself getting anxious, take a breath and try to transform your nerves into excitement about the topic.

Also, don’t underestimate the value of moving while hosting engaging webinars. While it may seem counterintuitive to move around when you’re the only one in a room, it can offer invaluable benefits, both to you and your listeners. Movement can quickly minimize your nerves; it can also keep your energy levels up, allowing you to maintain momentum and stay dynamic.

Finally, when rehearsing engaging webinars, remember that in-person presentations often allow for an occasional “dramatic pause.” However, when you aren’t sharing space with your listeners, a dramatic pause can quickly transform into dead air. When practicing the delivery of engaging webinars, keep in mind that your guests can’t read your mannerisms and gestures; everyone logged-in is completely dependent on your voice alone. An interruption longer than just a few seconds can prove enough of a distraction for them to question the quality of your connection and move onto to something else on their action item list.

 

Tip #5: Create A Call To Action 

Keep the conversation going long after the webinar ends by creating calls-to-action for your audience. Before signing off, direct the crowd on the next steps you’d like them to take. Make your directives clear and concise – attendees should know exactly what to do and how to do it. At the conclusion of your web conference, share a custom URL that will walk them through the process, or provide a phone number they can call for follow up.

Indecision and procrastination can prove major obstacles in call-to-action success. Creating a sense of urgency can motivate listeners (no one wants to miss an invaluable opportunity). Put a deadline on when listeners can reap the benefits of your additional information. Or, offer a discount on additional materials and products for a limited time. A compelling call to action can strengthen the session’s overall impact and may prompt users to share your information with others for the ultimate webinar return on investment.

 

At BigMarker we understand the importance of hosting engaging webinars, that’s why we offer modern webinar software with features specifically designed to build, measure, and increase attendee activity during your webinars. Start your 14 day free trial today to begin leveraging our powerful webinar technology or send us a message if you’re interesting in learning more.