The Keys To Preparing And Managing A Webinar Panel Discussion

A successful webinar seamlessly incorporates several audio and visual components for a collective final presentation that builds sustainable brand exposure, recognition, and loyalty. Slides, graphics, images, Q&A sessions and live webinar panel discussions are just some of the many segments you may find in an effective webinar.

Today, we’re focusing our attention on webinar panel discussions. Webinar panel discussions deliver extensive audience influence and session value, which makes them an incredibly valuable form of content. However, the thought of coordinating schedules and planning an outline for multiple presenters can even overwhelm seasoned webinar hosts.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Continue reading for a compiled a list of easy-to-follow tips and tricks to help you plan and execute a successful webinar panel discussion.

Phase I: Plan For Success With a Webinar Panel Discussion Before the Event

 

Knowing a few tips on how to effectively implement a webinar panel discussion can streamline the process and ensure you don’t miss out on the advantages offered when using this webinar strategy. When planning your next webinar panel, keep these key suggestions in mind to optimize results, both for your audience as well as your speakers. Begin with pre-show pointers, such as:

 

Consider Audience First

Consider your webinar audience when hosting a webinar panel discussion
Give the audience what it wants!

The first step in planning a successful webinar panel discussion? Think about your audience.

Oftentimes, a session host may fill the time with personal contacts and affiliates who may not have anything relevant to offer to listeners. Consider the goal of your event (aka – the reason why people have signed up to begin with).

Knowing the purpose of your webinar panel will keep you focused on finding panelists who add to the core conversation, not detract due to their own personal agenda.

Some webinar hosts find that best way to focus on the audience is to ask for their input.

Having numerous panelists can mean running long on time, or missing critical topics altogether. Before your session, reach out to both potential and existing registrants to inquire about what they’d like to see and hear most when the tune in. Online surveys and emails can go a long way in letting listeners know that you value their time as well as their input.

 

Select The Right Speakers

Once you recognize what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s time to create your list of prospective webinar panel speakers. One of the biggest benefits to hosting a webinar panel is that you get to choose the best speakers for your cause.

Don’t settle for simply scrolling through options you already have a professional relationship with.

Dream big and be bold. If there are industry experts who you know can add value to your session, reach out and ask if they’d be willing to participate. Adding well-known names to your agenda increases registration numbers as well as actual attendance on game day.

Additionally, don’t go for a webinar panel of speakers who will all offer the same thing, or agree on everything. Diversify your discussion by including presenters with varying perspectives and opinions.

Convening a wide range of viewpoints can encourage active discussion and debate, both with each other as well as with members of your audience.

 

Get To Your Pre-Game Preppin’

Anyone who has ever hosted a webinar understands that strategic preparation plays a vital role in overall success.

This holds true when including a webinar panel discussion. As soon as you have your list of presenters, you will want to begin coordinating the schedule, pinpointing individual strengths, and itemizing key objectives.

Some relevant tips when you get to prepping include:

  • Know your time: Putting together an outline that sticks to the time allotted can prove challenging. Don’t wing everyone’s time slot. Put together a very specific outline of speaking order as well as amount of speaking time so nothing’s left to chance when you go live. Your audience will appreciate knowing that you are sensitive to their busy schedules and routines.

Pro tip: Tell your webinar panel speakers ahead of time that you’ll send them a conspicuous signal (such as a private chat message) a few minutes before their time is done to keep them on track.

  • Do your topic research: Just because you aren’t carrying the conversation, doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to it as needed. Prepare for the webinar panel by carefully researching the topics being covered throughout your webinar. Your insight or varying perspective can add a new layer of interest with your audience.
  • Prepare slides: Yes, you will want your speakers on camera when they are talking but you should also include some visual resources as well to strengthen the overall audience impression. Work with your individual presenters to determine if they will be providing visual materials and slides for their discussions. If so, you will want to have access to them before the function so you can include them in the master presentation. If they don’t provide slides, you will want to create at least one for them. A simple slide with their name and topics can add a visual component to their conversation to keep listeners engaged.
  • Create an agenda: Finally, once you’ve developed the speaking order and brushed up on the latest topic information, you will want to create an agenda to share with participants. Highlight at least 3-5 main points so they know what to expect when they tune in. Before your function, you will also want to provide a copy to speakers as well to manage their expectations.

 

Plan Your Opening

You may or may not be the main attraction at your webinar panel discussion; however, it’s still your webinar panel discussion. As the host, you will have certain responsibilities to your audience – effectively opening the session is one such obligation.

Once again, don’t wing it or you may risk losing them before you even get started. Plan ahead and get creative with your session opening.

Don’t simply reiterate the topic ideas; give a brief overview that details the value offered during the session as well as highlight any important instructions they will need as the event progresses. Your opening is also the time where you will emphasize when question and answer sessions will be held so you can manage expectations accordingly.

 

Practice

As the webinar panel host, you’ll want to practice as many event segments as possible to ensure a seamless experience.

While it may prove difficult to convene all your speakers for at least one dry run, it’s worth the effort. This is especially true if you will all be speaking from remote locations.

Even the most polished speaker may find himself struggling to effectively take over the conference from a technology perspective. A brief run through with your panelists can save invaluable time (and embarrassment) when you all go live.

 

Phase II: Plan For Success With A Webinar Panel Discussion During The Event

 

In addition to pre-webinar panel planning, you will also have to consider how to manage the actual event itself. Once again, a little advance preparation can yield impressive dividends. When you go live, remember:

You’re The Moderator

No matter how much planning you do, you will probably still have to moderate at various intervals throughout the session. Stay focused and facilitate as needed to sustain momentum and smooth out potential hiccups.

Most importantly, it’s your job to ensure all of your webinar panel speakers get their allotted time. You need to make sure they get the individual attention they all deserve. Stay on your toes to prevent more assertive webinar panel speakers from dominating the conversation.

 

Introduce Each Speaker

Speakers on your webinar panel should never have to introduce themselves. That’s your job.

Give a brief overview on each panelist that includes name, company, area of expertise and specific topics each person will address during his/her presentation. Not only will the introduction pique the interest of your audience, it will also help your speakers stay on track and get to their respective points quickly.

 

Allow For Q&A Sessions

use Q&A sessions during a webinar panel discussion

You should always include Q&A segments in your webinar to increase interaction with your participants.

Question and answer components can break up the monotony, captivate the crowd, and instantly boost energy levels (which, inevitably, do dip a bit as the conference goes on).

Don’t allow each panelist to answer every single question asked. Listening to the same answer again and again is a surefire way to lose participants. Instead, give 1 or 2 presenters the chance to respond. Then, get the conversation moving forward to the next inquiry.

 

Ask Your Own Questions

While you’ll want to encourage your listeners to ask questions during your webinar panel, you may want to consider having a few of your own inquiries on hand as well.

You can’t predict what will or won’t be ask once you go live. Having thought provoking questions for each of your speakers at the ready can keep the function progressing and offer an interesting viewpoint to your listeners.

 

Prevent The Dreaded Pitch

Some presenters simply won’t be able to resist the opportunity to pitch their personal interests and products.

It’s crucial to remember that everyone who registered for your event is expecting to focus on a specific topic. The last thing your audience wants to listen to is a sales pitch from every speaker on your panel. If your webinar begins to feel like a giant infomercial, you may suffer irreparable damage to your brand. (As well as lose participants at record speeds.)

Just before you go live, reiterate your expectations to each panelist. If you do sense the conversation sliding into the realm of unabashed advertisement, do your best to organically direct the discussion back to your original focus. Your audience will thank you.

 

Host Your Own Webinar Panel Discussion

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 leverage our powerful webinar technology. Or send us a message if you’re interesting in learning more.

 

 

 

 

References

https://blog.clickmeeting.com/9-key-tips-for-an-effective-panel-discussion-in-your-webinar

http://www.eventbuilder.rocks/webinars-panel-discussions-10-ideas-make-look-like-rockstar/

The Role of the Webinar Moderator: How to Be an Effective Co-Host

Webinar hosting has firmly established its foothold as a viable promotional tool in any company’s specific marketing mix. Webinars, especially when hosted with a webinar moderator, allow businesses of every size the chance to engage with their targeted demographic on a simultaneous, global level, with remarkable results.

The interactive nature of webinars affords organizations an unparalleled opportunity to generate dialogue with interested prospects and develop sustainable industry partnerships, all while giving the consuming masses the chance to put a name, face, and voice to any hosting business. Few other resources allow brands to both promote and personalize in such a tangible, scalable way.

Benefits Of Utilizing a Webinar Moderator

Due to the comprehensive range of potential advantages, corporate leaders recognize it’s critical to optimize efforts and execution during every webinar.

Enter in the webinar moderator.

A webinar moderator helps mediate a live conference in a wide range of ways. Unfortunately, the role of webinar moderator is often underestimated. Many assume it’s simply completing a behind-the-scene checklist that requires little more than rote response; a technical support person who merely clicks buttons, grants permissions, and confirms everyone can log in at the appropriate time. These business owners believe if they have the technology down cold, they have no use for a second-in-command during their webinar.

Others misjudge the sheer amount of work that goes into creating a captivating, compelling live webinar. They enter into the process believing they can shoulder all of the many responsibilities on their own, only to discover (often too late) sharing the workload can yield a comprehensive range of benefits.

Veteran webinar hosts recognize an effective webinar moderator manages a slew of tasks and operations that require strategic thinking, planning, and preparation, making it in invaluable component to any successful live session. Using a webinar moderator for assistance during any video session can help business owners attain the many advantages offered from just a single live webinar. During any given video conferencing session, the webinar moderator will coordinate responsibilities including:

  • Audience welcome message
  • Agenda outline
  • Discuss relevant session protocol
  • Speaker introductions
  • Permissions for shared information
  • Track inquiries in chat windows
  • Administrate Q&A sessions
  • Manage unexpected system glitches
  • Close out conference

 

These are just some of the many responsibilities potentially performed by a webinar moderator during a live conference. Due to web conferencing’s immense popularity, the webinar moderator role will likely continue to evolve, further emphasizing the importance of having a secondary point person to ensure any function proceeds as smoothly as possible.

 

Tips To Bring Your Moderator A-Game

In order to ensure you are an efficient webinar moderator, it’s important to understand some critical steps to success. Following just a few simple tips can keep you focused on your obligations and guarantee the session maximizes audience participation and overall return on investment.

 

#1: Understand The Host’s Goals and Objectives

The first step in webinar moderator victory is gaining a firm grasp of what the actual host hopes to accomplish. Don’t simply assume you already understand the desired outcome for any given assembly. In order to fully support the company or person running the webinar, you should meet with the principal presenters to familiarize yourself with their top goals and objectives. You will want to know what the point of the session is, the targeted demographic they hope to reach, and what results they want to achieve.

You will also want to gain insight on the presenter’s specific voice. Everyone has her own presentation style and tone. In order to successfully support the webinar, you will need to pinpoint the individual’s/company’s approach to live webinars. Is the vibe laid-back and casual? More polished and professional? Somewhere in between? Recognizing style can play a key role in ensuring stay on brand throughout the meeting for a seamless transition between you and your co-host.

Beyond familiarizing yourself with your co-host’s voice and pace, you should also ask to review any current marketing materials used by the business. Websites, press releases, blogs, and even printed resources can offer an expedient way to assess brand identity and further assure you align your support services with existing corporate language and overall delivery tone.

 

#2: Find Your Voice

While understanding the client’s professional voice is critical, it’s also important to find your own delivery style and tone as well. Blandly reciting your piece with no personality is a surefire way to give listeners permission to tune out. As webinar moderator, your primary mission is to make the session proceeds as smoothly as possible. A welcoming and engaging delivery can play a key role achieving a seamless conference from start to finish.

Additionally, keep in mind that when you go live, unforeseen mishaps will inevitably occur; things such as schedule incongruences, slides placed in the wrong order, presenters missing their queue, technical difficulties and other unexpected events can quickly fluster even the most polished announcer. Your job as webinar moderator is to effortlessly connect with the listeners and redirect as needed should things get off track. Knowing your specific voice can help you do whatever is needed with poise, personality and confidence to keep the session progressing.

#3: Identify Host Expectations

Beyond an understanding of host goals, you will also want to discuss what the lead presenter will expect from you throughout the webinar.

The role of monitor is fluid; sometimes it may be strictly behind-the-scenes, reactive coordination. Other times, a presenter may want the webinar moderator to take the lead on certain segments and actually present to the audience. Schedule as many calls as necessary before the event to gain the insight you’ll need to provide optimal support and meet your host’s overall expectations.

 

#4: Identify Audience Expectations

A successful webinar moderator recognizes the importance of meeting audience expectations as well. It’s critical to gauge attendee interests before creating the slides and visual presentation. Work with the host to review any distributed marketing material and invites for the upcoming function. Familiarizing yourself with what’s being promoted and promised to participants can help you develop a plan to effectively highlight relevant details and deliver what everyone is expecting.

 

#5: Create An Agenda

Once you’ve discussed objectives and overall responsibilities, it’s time to create a webinar agenda. Putting together a summary before the conference will keep everyone on task with individual obligations as well as maintain focus throughout the preparation and strategizing.

When developing your agenda, go beyond outlining just the major talking points; utilize the power of listening points as well. Always allow extra time to include several strategically placed Q&A sessions throughout the presentation. It’s no secret that long webinars run the risk of losing listeners at various intervals. Permitting inquiries throughout the conference proves an excellent way to keep listeners tuned in and on their toes. Highlighting these more interactive segments can prevent their eyes (and ears) from glazing over and encourage them to participate and engage with all of the speakers during your event.

 

the role of a webinar moderator can play a key role in maintaining focus

 

#6: Schedule Rehearsal(s)

Web conferencing can incorporate a diverse scope of technological components in any given session. Don’t assume your guest has mastered everything he or she will need to use of the course of the event (even if he insists he’s an experienced whiz at managing all the webinar features you will incorporate).

Schedule a dry run a few days before the live session to jointly determine everyone’s area of expertise. Use this time together to not only test the innovation but also go through the entire presentation as many times as needed. You will inevitably pinpoint weak spots in your exhibition or identify salient details that have been omitted entirely. These rehearsals will allow you to iron out any hiccups and smooth out rough patches before going live with your participants.

#7: Game Day Practice

Also, you will want to connect prior to going live on the actual day of the event. This will give you a final opportunity to go through your host’s presentation as well as run a last minute audiovisual test. No matter how many rehearsals you’ve had, you shouldn’t squander the chance to get everything set up before participants begin logging in.

It’s important to practice one final time just to confirm the technology being used is working the way it should; one malfunctioning microphone or a misaligned camera can quickly impact audience attention levels. Spending precious time identifying and trying to fix an issue once you’ve gone live can give your participants the authorization they need to tend to other pressing items on their agendas. Or, worse yet, it can instantly make you and your host seem unprepared and unprofessional.

 

#8: Attend Other Sessions To See What Works (And What Doesn’t)

As webinar popularity and marketing momentum continues to increase, the role of webinar moderator will continue to change, making it vital for co-hosts to consistently up their support game. Perhaps the best way to add maximum value during a webinar? Attend other events that utilize a webinar moderator as often as possible.

Every session brings with it its own unique voice, tone, and overall delivery. Participating in other meetings will grant you invaluable insight on new resources to use and different approaches to implement. Beyond learning what works in a webinar, you will also determine methods that don’t work. This knowledge of what to include and exclude can enhance the overall quality of your next session and ensure you always effectively fulfill your co-hosting responsibilities.

 

 

If you’d like to host your own amazing webinars, check out BigMarker. BigMarker helps you share meaningful content and build your brand with modern, user-friendly webinars. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today or send us a message to get in touch.

 

 

 

Sources

https://www.slideshare.net/GoToWebinar/5-steps-to-moderating-a-webinar

http://www.webattract.com/demand-generation/the-role-of-a-webinar-moderator/