How To Plan And Host A Webinar
By Matt Banner
A great webinar is a lot like an inspiring book or true story. It leaves you with a sense of fulfillment, knowledge, and a better understanding of the world around you. A bad webinar on the other hand can make you feel like you just wasted several hours of your life and you’d like to know how to get them back.
Planning and hosting a webinar is a process that can take months, but the ultimate results make the investment of time and energy worthwhile and then some. Today we’ll look at a step-by-step process for planning and hosting your first of many successful webinars.
Part One: Planning and Organizing
We are now eight weeks away from you webinar where you will stream a live broadcast over the internet to countless viewers. The idea just popped into your head and you’re excited about the prospect of gaining countless new leads and potential conversions once the webinar is complete. When it comes to promoting your blog and increasing traffic, this is one of the top strategies marketers will use.
Keep in mind though, that not all content is a good fit for a webinar. Some things are better left as part of a post, email newsletter, or press release. Before you start planning, make sure to eliminate any of these potential topics:
- A small release or update on your product
- News or previously discussed content from your blog/website
- Broad topics that don’t go into detail
- Covering a concept that has been beaten to death (keyword stuffing, high-quality content)
- A sales-pitch
As we move into the first steps of the planning process, we’ll also be looking at some webinar best practices to ensure you avoid any common mistakes.
Step One: Choosing Your Topic
Right off the bat, you’ll need to decide what you or your speakers will be talking about for an hour or more. A topic with this kind of longevity is one that has a lot of detail and rich value for the viewer. Here are some quick examples of things that would work well in your webinar:
- An in-depth look at a niche topic
- A panel of experts discussing a topical and relevant subject in your industry
- How-to guides with actionable steps and examples
- Interviews with leaders in your industry
When choosing your topic, remember that it should be something interesting and valuable to your readers. If you need inspiration, consider looking at your best performing posts or the topics that perform well on your competitor’s sites.
The content should strive to provide the viewer with valuable information or a solution to a problem. Make sure you set the expectations properly and deliver on them when it comes time to host the webinar.
Step Two: Choose Your Platform, Format, Date, Speaker(s), and Your Team
There are numerous platforms out there for hosting webinars, but none of them offer a complete webinar hosting solution like GetResponse. I’ve used plenty of other services in the past, but once I found GetResponse, I never went back, and neither should you.
You won’t be doing this alone, at least not the first time you decide to host a webinar. Before assembling your team, you should first decide the format that you will follow. These are three common formats:
- One Speaker – You will speak or a speaker will present through the course of the webinar. This person will also showcase examples and answer questions from the audience
- Interview Structure – Choosing this will allow you to have questions ready for one or multiple guests of your choosing. You can also set aside time for viewers to pose questions.
- A Moderated Panel – This style involves multiple speakers discussing topics at the same time, with a moderator to decide who speaks when. The only major challenge here is ensuring that panelists don’t talk over one another.
Once you’ve chosen the format, you will have a better idea of your needs in terms of speakers and your team. In terms of your speakers, make sure that you choose people who are not only experts in their field, but also comfortable with speaking on camera.
Your team should consist of a technical assistant that will ensure everything’s running smoothly, and a moderator to handle questions and comments either as part of a panel, or behind the scenes as your viewers submit their comments.
Finally, you’ll need to choose the date and time for your webinar which will most likely be two months from now. Keep in mind that people will be watching in different time zones. If you’re in the United States for example, a good time to choose would be afternoon eastern time/morning pacific time.
Step Three: Create Your Slide Deck, Script, and Landing Page
These are the three main pillars of your webinar. Let’s cover each one in detail:
1. An Amazing Slide Deck
The slide deck is the visual aspect of your webinar. These are similar to the slide you would see during a PowerPoint presentation for example. That being said, you’re slides should look nothing like that. You should focus on creating visuals that enhance the topics you’re discussing.
Don’t make these a rehash of your script, instead create slides go above and beyond what you’re talking about with real-world examples or actionable advice. These are also the places to provide data and evidence that will back up your claims.
2. Forging a Strong Script
No matter how much you or your speakers think they know about a subject, talking about it for an hour or more is still difficult. You don’t have to read off your script word-for-word, but you should treat it as a roadmap of your webinar topics.
Working on your script and the slide deck at the same time is also a smart move. This will ensure you’re not repeating information on your slides.
3. Create a Landing Page
Once again, GetResponse saves the day with a comprehensive and mobile-responsive landing page creator. Your landing page will be the place for visitors to register for the webinar and receive email reminders as the date draws closer.
You’ll be able to choose if the event is password protected or open to the public, but either way this will give you an idea of who is going to be watching.
Step Four: Promote, Promote, Promote!
There’s a reason why I wrote the word “promote” three times. That’s because there are three major ways you can start promoting your upcoming webinar as the date approaches. Start this process roughly two weeks before the date.
1. Social Media
Start by letting all of your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and anywhere else that you’re doing a webinar. Place a link to your registration landing page and watch as new people sign up for the big event!
2. Email Lists
Email marketing is still alive and well, and for promoting a webinar, it’s one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Make sure you send out an update to everyone who has signed up, and to those who are part of your regular email newsletter.
For the purpose of promotion, you can record a small one-minute video previewing the webinar and building excitement.
3. Your Blog/Website
Finally, you can also promote your upcoming event within the content of your blog or website. Simply include a call-to-action that directs readers to your landing page!
Part Two: Hosting Your Webinar
Today’s the big day! You’re mere hours away from hosting your first webinar. You may be nervous, but remember to keep a cool head. As we close in on your big moment, let’s talk about some final touches and tips that will help the event go as smoothly as possible.
1. Prepare Your Space
Some webinars are held in home offices, others are in rented spaces like a conference room. Regardless of where you decide to conduct the event, make sure that the space is prepped and ready nice and early on the day of the event.
Ensure that any sources of noise or distraction are taken care of prior to your arrival. Make sure all of your notifications and alarms on your phone are turned off or on silent. Have your technical assistant double check the internet and phone connections to ensure they are working properly.
2. Have Your Backups in Place
You should have two of everything when you’re prepping for the webinar. If you’re using corded devices, bring an extra power cable. If you are forced to use batteries, then bring a spare. The same goes with your speaking device or headset. Have a backup on standby just in case.
3. Do a Dry Run
This will require you to be ready quite early on the day of the event, but it is absolutely important that you practice the webinar beforehand. You can practice ahead of time, but a dry run on the day of or the day before is paramount to ensuring that everything is in place and ready to go.
4. Some Final Tips
As the time draws closer, here are some final tips that will help you elevate your webinar to the next level:
- Use a landline to call in, that way if the internet goes out your webinar isn’t toast.
- Try running polls during the webinar to keep the audience interested.
- Add links to your speaker’s blogs along with photos of them to your landing page to increase your credibility.
The hardest part of a webinar is getting it organized and planned. Once you have everything in place, the rest comes naturally. Keep these tips in mind and always prepare for anything. Things will go wrong but with preparation, your webinar won’t suffer as a result.
Thanks for reading and be sure to share your own webinar tips and stories in the comments below!
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