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One of the big reasons why running a webinar is more challenging than hosting an in-person event is because the webinar experinece doesn't come with all of the frills of an in-person event - there's no dramatic venue or stage lighting, free food and cocktails for guests, and no opportunities for presenters to feed off audience reactions.
Webinars strip all of those elements away and force you to provide exceptional content and value to keep your audience engaged. Sounds scary right? It doesn't have to be.
Here are our top 10 tips for running webinars to help you avoid tricky situations and squeeze as much value out of your event as possible.
Most marketing and event teams didn't have in-house webinar experts at the start of COVID-19 to transition their cancelled in-person events to an online format. This resulted in video, content and event experts needing to frantically work together to plan and run a webinar for their audience.
When making this change, it's important to remember that a webinar won't be your in-person experience perfectly replicated online, nor will it be as simple as creating a video for YouTube. It is a holistic content experience that includes an online venue (webinar platform), content that is optimized for webinars, and built-in opportunities for audience engagement and interactions. Thinking about webinars as a specific type of event rather than an online alternative will help you get off on the right foot with your webinar planning.
Even if you work on a really small team, you will need to recruit people to help you successfully create and execute your webinar. This is especially true if your webinar will be a live event. Generally, you'll want people to help with the following:
Running a webinar sprint requires coordinating schedules and getting time commitments from a lot of people - your presenters, designers, copywriters, management, legal teams for sign-off, etc..
While the webinar might be your top priority, that likely isn't the case for everybody else. Take a proactive approach to organizing people and let them know that you're going to pop a few reminders in their calendars for key dates and milestones to help them stay organized. It will sound like you're doing them a favour, but you're actually prompting them to do the work and keep the webinar top of mind.
This tactic can sometimes be replaced by project management tools and automatic prompts, but if you have people outside of your team or who don't actively use that software participating in your webinar you may need to rely on calendar invites.
It is hard to keep a person's attention for a whole hour. Even the giants in television and media struggle to achieve this and they benefit from multi-million dollar budgets, special effects and dramatic plot twists.
Your best chance at keeping your audience engaged throughout the webinar is to mix your media types. Strategically incorporating videos, animations on slides, GIFs and imagery, stats and graphs, webcam or screenshare opportunities into your webinar will create a better experience for your audience and increase your webinar's time viewed.
You can also play with the visuals and audio, increasing intensity at key points where you want to capture or re-capture the audiences' attention. In our Best of 2019 webinar we added in a drum roll noise before each winner was announced to help re-capture peoples' attention and give them cues when important information was being revealed in case they were multi-tasking.
Watch Best Webinars, Webcasts and Virutal Events of 2019 Webinar On-Demand Now.
Webinars are an excellent way to build trust and authority on a given topic with your audience. Sneaking an aggressive sales pitch into your content will immediately turn people away because they'll feel misled by your marketing and are likely to drop off at that point of the webinar.
Instead of the hard sell, include CTAs and resources in the resource section of your webinar that will help people take the next step in your sales process. This could be a link to register for a free product demonstration, free trial, or book a meeting with a sales rep. Your presenters can let people know where to find these links and remind people throughout the webinar, just make sure it stays helpful and doesn't get too salesy.
People who attend your live webinars are often the most engaged and qualified leads in your sales pipeline. The more value and insight you can provide for these leads, the more likely they are to convert because they'll trust your organization and appreciate the added value and perks you provided them with.
Added value can be provided in a few ways:
When running a webinar it's important to run both technical and presenting rehearsals. Your presenters will feel the most confident delivering their live content or pre-recording their presentation if they're familiar with the webinar platform.
Be sure to schedule a technical rehearsal first and follow it up with the full webinar rehearsal. This ensures your presenters and moderators have seen and been trained on the webinar software before the rehearsal which will allow you to get straight down to business.
Especially with people working from home and presenting on overburdened wifi networks, you will need to be prepared to troubleshoot and overcome any technical issues that might arise during your webinar. This is probably our most important webinar tip for anyone hosting or presenting a webinar. Always have a backup plan in place.
Practice what to do if somebody's wifi drops out or you're experiencing technical issues during your rehearsals so that you can smoothly implement your fix on the big day.
If you're worried about wifi and are using WorkCast's cloud-based platform for a simulive event, you can always embed the full mp4 recording of your presentation into one of your slides. This way, if your internet quality drops you just need to go to that slide and click play and your recording will play from the cloud while you sort out your internet issues.
Everybody likes to share their experiences and point out where things went wrong, so give people a structured way to provide feedback. This can be done by using webinar polls at the end of the event, through post-event surveys, or by asking for feedback with simple smiley face options.
This lets your audience know that their experience and opinion matters to your business, and provides you with helpful insights for your next webinar.
This is one of the most important steps to take once your webinar wraps up. The team that is moderating and hosting the webinar will have all kinds of data and insights from the polls and questions asked during the event. Unless you're using a custom API, this information probably won't be included in the reports your sales team uses to follow-up with leads.
Download a custom report that shares these insights with your team so they can tailor their communications with this person and increase their chances to convert them into a SQL or customer. This little bit of extra effort can make a huge difference to your conversion metrics and the internal perception and value attributed to webinar leads.
Implementing these 10 tips into your webinar creation strategy will help you overcome many of the most common challenges people face when they're new to webinars. For more help getting started with webinars, we have created a handy webinar checklist in Trello so that you don't miss out on any of the critical steps.
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