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.
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.
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
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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.