Hosting entirely hybrid or virtual events has rapidly become the norm in our digital, post-pandemic workplaces. Yet, running an effective, informative, and successful event such as a webinar requires more than you might think. In our essential guide right here, we will walk you through what webinars are, how they work, and how you can ensure that your next webinar is an utter triumph – in just ten simple steps.
Understanding Webinars: What They Are and How They Work
There is a lot to think about when organizing a webinar – it’s not as straightforward as, for example, call center for enterprise! Let’s begin by explaining what webinars are and how they work.
You might not know this, but the word webinar is shorthand for “web-based seminar.” It means that webinars are online video presentations that can cover a wide range of topics – just as a traditional, in-person seminar would.
Webinars can serve the purpose of presenting a new product or service (and demonstrating how it works), educating the audience on a particular subject (such as better sales coaching), or onboarding new customers. One of the fundamental differences between a webinar and any other type of video presentation is that the former features a more interactive component.
While webinars can be live and pre-recorded, the effectiveness and engagement you can reach with a live event are much higher. It is because a live webinar offers the opportunity to build a real-time, authentic connection between all its participants, which in turn skyrockets their focus, interest, and responsiveness.
Generally speaking, a webinar consists of a host presenting via video conferencing software to an audience who has pre-registered to attend. Because webinars are digital events, they can be attended by people dialing in from the whole world. In some cases, webinars also include one or more panelists and co-hosts, although these are not always present (or needed).
At the end of your webinar, it’s common to set aside time to answer your guests’ questions. It is called a “Q&A session,” and it usually lasts around 15 to 20 minutes.
Cybersecurity is another crucial aspect to consider when organizing a webinar. You’ll need to select a video conferencing platform that’s safe, encrypted, and easy to access from all digital devices.
You can do many things to ensure your webinar hits the mark every time. Let’s now find out how you can host the perfect webinar in ten simple steps.
Perfect Your Online Invite
Just as you would put a lot of effort into writing the perfect invite to an in-person business event, you’ll want your webinar online invite to be as compelling and exciting as possible. To this effect, consider crafting an attractive subject line featuring the word “Webinar” while summing up the value that this event will have for its attendees.
Then, focus on the content of your email invitation. Make it succinct, informative, and engaging. Add a couple of cool images (or, even better, short video clips) and highlight the date and time of the event.
Finish Off with a Great CTA
All business communication should include a strong call-to-action, and this applies to webinars, too. After communicating the value of your webinar to your audience, finish your email with a solid, clear, and easily identifiable CTA button.
Try to be original and think outside the box. Encourage your guests to promote your event by crafting a CTA that is truly compelling and hard to forget, and don’t skimp on using a few capitalized words to attract the reader’s attention and call them to act promptly. Check out some examples below:
- Claim your spot NOW
- Don’t miss your chance. Register TODAY
- Save your seat TODAY. Grow your business tomorrow.
Select the Right Timings and Duration
Right, now it’s time to think about how long your webinar should be and when you should schedule it for. Both these considerations are important, as several studies have revealed that attendance is at its highest if webinars follow specific guidelines related to timings and duration.
For example, the optimal length of a webinar is one hour. It allows you plenty of time to communicate your message, deliver value, and convert leads. It enables your audience to retain more information, feel more interested in your brand, and get on with their day without disruptions or delays.
If you want maximum attendance, consider running your webinar on a Thursday. Research has shown that this is the preferred day of the week for webinar guests, closely followed by Wednesday and Tuesday. Mondays and Fridays are – unsurprisingly – a no-no.
You must enter the digital webinar room around ten to 15 minutes before the event is planned to start. It will help you check that everything is working well while at the same time giving you an extra chance to go through your notes and presentation and ensure that you are following your company’s corporate compliance policies.
Lastly, to enable all attendees to log into the event, consider launching it a couple of minutes after its scheduled time. Do not be tempted to wait longer than five minutes, as this can put off those who have called in on time.
Do a Test Run
Anyone hosting a web event should consider running a thorough test of everything: from your digital devices to your content presentation, from the platform for secure video conferences that you have chosen to any other tool or piece of hardware you will be using.
Tidy Up Your Physical and Digital Workspaces
The beauty of webinars is that they can be conducted literally from any kind of physical space and enjoyed by people worldwide. Regardless of where you will be when you host the webinar, you must tidy up and organize your workspaces – both your physical and your digital ones.
Create a neutral, clear, and tidy background (especially if you are at home), and remember to close all the apps, tabs, and browsers you won’t need during the event. The last thing you need during a webinar is to accidentally leak confidential information, like that high-priority proposal consulting contract you have been working on.
Remind Your Guests about the Event
You’d be surprised, but even the keenest guest might forget about your event if they aren’t reminded of it nearer the time. So, consider sending a couple of email reminders – the first one or two days before the event and the second one on the morning of the event.
Speak Slowly and Clearly
Start by presenting yourself and your company to your audience. Don’t take for granted that every one of your guests has done extensive research on you but, similarly, don’t talk about yourself or your company for too long.
A simple introductory slide with some of the main facts and achievements of your business will suffice, as well as the links to your website, blog, and social media pages. Throughout your presentation, try to speak as slowly and clearly as needed, especially if some of your attendees are calling in from mobile or have low-quality internet connections.
Decide How to Conduct Your Q&A
As we mentioned earlier, you should conclude your webinar with a Q&A session. This will help strengthen your audience’s engagement and highlight any potential issues with the products or services you discussed during your presentation. You can run the Q&A session yourself or appoint a specific person for it.
Whichever approach you choose, remember to try and keep the session to a maximum of 15 to 20 minutes. Any longer, and you will probably notice attendees dropping out quickly.
Record the Event (and Send Links to the Participants)
You might have hosted a 60-minute webinar on a Thursday morning to maximize attendance, focus, and interest, but it’s still a good idea to record your webinar and send it (as a link) to every participant after it’s finished.
Not only will this ensure that people have retained as much information and value as possible, but it will also help you create another form of connection with your audience.
Follow Up for Feedback and Suggestions
Speaking of connection: don’t be fooled into thinking that your webinar ends when you say goodbye to your audience and close your laptop. If anything, this moment represents the beginning of a different phase – one in which you follow up with your guests to keep the momentum going.
Consider sending everyone a digital thank-you note and a short survey to ask for their feedback, suggestions, and recommendations. It will help you do even better next time while encouraging your audience to stay in touch with you. And if you’re using WordPress CMS, then you can easily use WordPress Survey Plugin to get feedback.
Ready to Run Your Best Webinar Ever?
Organizing and conducting a great, successful virtual event webinar requires a combination of important factors. From choosing a video conferencing platform that ensures corporate compliance to crafting a compelling invite, down to running thorough IT testing and following up on your event with polls and surveys, there is a lot to consider.
In this comprehensive guide, we provided ten easy steps to help you build a fantastic webinar, regardless of the topic you choose and the industry you operate in. Are you ready to host your best webinar ever?
Jessica Day – Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business virtual PBX system that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Jessica Day also published articles for domains such as Recruitee and VirtualSpeech. Here is her LinkedIn.