Hosting A Successful Webinar

Hosting a successful webinar can have a huge impact on your business. Whether the purpose is to promote your company, share your industry knowledge, convert leads, or simply build yourself as a key thought leader, a webinar is the perfect platform to connect with your target audience in a very personal, one-on-one, intimate way. DigitalSherpa has found webinars to be the best place to connect with current clients and really discover needs that are not present during a normal telephone conversation.

One thing that we’ve learned along the path of webinar-righteousness is that proper preparation is everything. Here are the most important tips I’d suggest to anyone who’s new to hosting webinars. I’ll go in further detail on some of these later in the article.

1. Outline – Don’t try to start building a webinar before you have a proper outline. It’ll lead to a lot of wasted time re-doing slides and content.

2. Practice with someone – Sometimes it’s easy to talk to yourself or build up a presentation in your head. Practicing in front of another person helps simulate what it will be like hosting in real time.

3. Be Friendly – The content you provide won’t always be meant to make people laugh or applaud, but adding in some light humor or questions throughout keeps attendees engaged.

4. Follow-Up – Don’t forget to send a follow-up communication to your attendees asking if they have any other questions or comments about your presentation of your business.

Now, what about the content of your presentation?

Develop High Quality Content

Since content has always been king, the success of your entire webinar rides on the information you present. Don’t rush this step. If you’re thinking about hosting a webinar, then chances are you’ve already narrowed down your topic or purpose. Take your time developing the presentation; this should be your main focus. While doing so, think about the following:

Target Audience: Who will be in attendance? What lingo and language should you use to best connect with your audience?

Title: Will your title garner up enough excitement to draw the desired amount of attendees via social media, email, etc.

Goals: What do you want to achieve? Whether it’s sales conversion, free trials, brand awareness, etc., build your presentation to best achieve these goals.

Time frame: Will your target audience be able to attend the webinar during their workday?

Media vs. Text: Pictures always outperform text when it comes to grabbing attention. Simplify your presentation to include a lot of rich media, while focusing on short text takeaways that the audience can easily write down or Tweet.

Audience participation: Whether you’d like to open up the possibilities of taking questions live, having people Tweet their questions in, or simply having them write their questions down for a Q & A session at the end, getting your audience involved will keep them interested and tuned in throughout the entire presentation.

Build the Foundation for Success

“If you build it, they will come” simply doesn’t hold true for the social web space. There’s simply an over abundance of cheap fast web content out there and people have become adept at weeding out the good from the bad. Don’t let that deter you in any way. Let it motivate you to execute at the highest level. Here’s where you start:

• Build a strong landing sign-up page: Include a section that describes the webinar, why they should sign up, an easy sign-up form (use this section to learn as much as possible about the attendee but be careful, too many sign-up sections and you’ll lose them), and social sharing buttons.

• Benefit from what you already have: Take the email list (no matter what size), Twitter following, Facebook fan page, and LinkedIn page and let your network hear it! Getting the word out.

• Increase the likelihood that you’ll create some buzz: by infusing exclusivity, limited seating, and/or giveaways into the sign-up and promotion piece.

• Develop a Twitter Hashtag (#): to associate the webinar with. This will come in handy for tracking your social reach, questions, and pre-webinar buzz.

• Set-up webinar software: that allows you to video record and grab a sound file that can be emailed out to your attendees at the conclusion.

Taking care of the above areas will set you up to succeed. Whether you execute or not will be the ultimate determination of your success; however, take heed of the above steps and your chances will increase.

Now that your content is developed, your audience is being built, and you’re working hard to develop some buzz, start practicing! Even if you’re a public speaking guru, hosting a webinar is an entirely different beast. As I mentioned before, practice is very important if you aren’t savvy to the way of webinars. Be sure to record and time yourself during these practice sessions. It’s a good way to hear your voice while tracking your pace. Conducting your webinar within the allotted time slot is very important. Master this by practicing in front of a live test audience (Co-workers, friends, family, etc).

When the big day finally arrives, set yourself up at least 30-45 minutes in advance to ensure that you’re ready to go. Take a deep breath, relax, and be confident in your preparation. When it’s all over, be sure to email your attendees the sound file and thank them for their attendance.

Chris Vaughn is the Content Marketing Director for DigitalSherpa, the world's largest content marketing provider for small businesses. With the recent acquisition of SocialTract, DigitalSherpa is thrilled to welcome the HVAC community in to our client family. Learn more about content marketing and check out our free e-books and whitepapers at http://digitalsherpa.com. Connect with Chris and the DigitalSherpa team on Facebook and Twitter or e-mail Chris directly at [email protected].

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