- They cover topics that are interesting to a specific target audience.
- They come in formats that showcase the speaker’s expertise.
- The speakers are engaging.
When creating your webinar, start by determining a topic that will resonate with your audience. Once you’ve got a topic, you can create assets such as emails, a landing page, and the event itself. Here are 10 tips to help you develop that webinar that meets your goals and gets the results you plan for.
1. Agree on the topic of your webinar
You and your team should determine a topic. This topic (and its associated content) will help drive how intrinsically interesting and potentially compelling your event is – which influences the number of leads the webinar generates. The topic should be highly relevant to your target audience, and it should be unique (or have a unique view; you don’t want to rerun a topic everyone has done this year) and actionable. You can also sometimes attract a larger audience by choosing a topic that is provocative in nature.
2. Specify the format
Webinars can have different formats. With few exceptions, there should always be one moderator and at least one speaker. Here are a few possibilities:
- One presenter: This is the simplest format. The speaker needs excellent presentation skills, since a single speaker can lose the interest of an audience if they’re not very engaging.
- Two presenters: Two speakers handle different parts of the presentation. It can be more interesting to the audience than a single speaker, especially if they interact with each other, rather than doing a handoff halfway through.
- Interview: This could be a question-and-answer session or a tag-team approach to a topic.
- Panel discussion: A panel discussion is usually moderated by one of the speakers or by the organizer. Because it provides more room for different points of view, it can be very engaging. However, it can also go off the rails without a good moderator and a strong focus. Allow more time and coordination for managing multiple speakers (including rehearsal) and create a structure for the moderator to follow in order to keep the discussion on track.
3. Identify and recruit speakers
Recruiting moderators and presenters is the next major step in the production process. Your speakers must be engaging and articulate in order for the audience to stick with the webinar to the end. Boring speakers, or speakers who really have nothing (or nothing new) to say, bore the audience and make your brand look unexciting. Presenters who have strong personal brands can also be a major draw for the event.
You may have in-house experts who can speak, but don’t overlook the possibility of choosing third-party speakers to present educational content. Nobody wants to sign up for an hour-long sales pitch; having a third-party speaker adds credibility and reduces scepticism about the content.
4. Meet with the speakers to discuss the topic
This is absolutely key: hold a kick-off meeting with the speakers. You should brief them on the topic, key themes, format, and production schedule. Let them know how you plan to promote. Make sure they can meet the deadlines required for the webinar’s scheduled production date.
5. Develop your landing page
As you use email and social to promote, you’ll be driving potential attendees to a landing page where they can register to attend. Make sure this is a good-looking page that carries your brand messaging. Reinforce the value, to convince anyone who’s interested but hesitating. Key best practices include: promoting the speakers, making the date and time of the event clear, using a simple registration form, providing a clear description of the webinar, and creating copy that clearly tells the prospect WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Don’t make other offers on this page; stick to your webinar.
6. Create your promotional emails
Email is the most powerful tool available for promoting a webinar. Create promotional emails that invite people to the landing page where they can sign up for the webinar. For inspiration when starting out, look in your own inbox. Pay attention to the invitations you get, especially email from a company that already successfully runs webinars. Make sure you follow standard email best practices such as creating a compelling subject line, email body copy, and one single call-to-action.
7. Develop materials for other promotional channels
Use other channels to promote your webinar. Do you have a place on your home page to promote events? Your blog? Post on the social media channels that your existing customers use to reach a similar demographic – and new prospects.
8. Create your operational emails
Email isn’t just a way to recruit people to a webinar, it’s the most effective way to communicate with people who’ve have already signed up for the event. At a minimum, create the following emails:
- A registration confirmation email (with iCal attachment)
- A pre-event reminder email that’s sent 24 hours before the event
- A post-event thank-you email for attendees
- A post-event thank-you email for non-attendees (perhaps with a link to a recording of the event)
According to recent research by ON24, your best bet is to drive registration over longer periods of time. The promotional cycle for webinars continues to grow in duration, which means you can increase the number of emails and messages you send to drive webinar registration and attendance.
Use an auto-responder email so the registrant gets immediate acknowledgment of their registration. You may also want to add an automated calendar event to the confirmation email to allow registrants to easily block out the time on their calendars.
After the event, be sure to send a thank-you message within 24 hours or less, and include any content that was promised to the attendees. Be sure to include a link to the archived webinar; close to 25 percent of webinar attendees will watch the recorded, on-demand version, and many people who skipped the live event will watch the recorded version on their own time. Add sharing links so recipients can pass the recorded version of the webinar to their colleagues. You can also consider creating a library of your on-demand webinars for you audience to access similar to Act-On’s Video Hub.
9. Work with speakers to create the presentation materials
The speakers should create slides to present during the webinar. The most important part of the webinar is what the speakers say, but good visuals will keep people engaged and listening, and deepen their understanding of what’s presented. If possible, it’s best if the speakers prepare their own slides. Offer concrete guidance on presentation best practices, such as immersive or interesting images and large fonts; essentially, lots of pictures and few words. (Note: if the slides can stand alone, then you won’t need to do much to the deck to make it a SlideShare.)
10. Conduct a quick review of your plan and all your materials
Once you’ve created all the materials that will support the webinar, you should conduct a review. Focus on making sure that you’ve checked off all the things that need to be done.
Review all the materials to make sure they’re consistent (with each other, with your brand, with the messaging) and on point. You should also make sure that you have everything you need to meet the production date.
And finally, if you can afford the time, have a read through to make sure the timing synchs up with your schedule and that there aren’t any places where the pace is too fast or the energy lags. This acts like a rehearsal to help your presenters feel comfortable, and gives them a chance to identify and correct anything that isn’t working for them.
Now, you’re all buttoned up – and ready to rock, with confidence.
Want to dig deeper into presenting perfects events? Be sure to check out this guide for information on hosting perfect online and in-person events.