I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on Zoom a lot! I’ve moderated workshops, participated in roundtable discussions and attended courses. It’s been steep learning curve. For anyone looking to host a webinar, or speak at a meeting, I wanted to share my top webinar tips.
- Identify your objectives. What are you looking to achieve through your webinar? Is it about positioning yourself as a brand, building your mailing list or something else entirely? Who is your target participant? Ask yourself whether a webinar is really the best approach. While a live webinar on a specific topic might be interesting to you, ask yourself if it will help you reach your goals. A podcast, blog, social media campaign or reaching out for collaborations with other brands might be a better use of your time.
- Choose the best platform. Consider your goals and budget. I’ve tried a few different webinar options including Google Meet, Go To Webinar and Zoom. Personally I don’t think there is a perfect solution, but Zoom is a good compromise. While Zoom has faced some data privacy concerns and while the paid webinar subscriptions are very pricey, the Zoom free meeting plans allow up to 40 minutes of interactive teleconferencing and generally work well. Zoom is also widely known and easy to use, so it’s not something new and complex that will put attendees off. The only issue with any free plan is that participants might keep their cameras and microphone on, whether they realise it or not. This could really disturb the flow of the webinar and could raise privacy concerns.
- Timing. Pick a date and a time with your target audience in mind. Avoid public holidays or times when your target participants might be busy. For example, if you’re targeting young parents, early mornings should be avoided. Consider time zones across different countries too. Quite frankly, you can forget all these webinar tips if the date / time won’t work for your audience.
- Check the registration process. Be sure to collect names and email addresses of your attendees when they register, but keep it simple. Don’t put people off signing up with lengthy questionnaires. Using a registration platform such as Eventbrite is an easy way to do this. More importantly, make sure you have user’s consent to do this (e.g. a tick the box option to confirm attendees allow the collection of their email addresses). If you plan to record the webinar, make this very clear in the initial sign up process. If you’re hosting the webinar as a free meeting and not via a paid webinar subscription, you might like to remind participants that they should turn their camera and microphone off when joining.
- Design a great flyer. Another important tip is to consider the branding of the webinar, ensuring that the flyer, including wording and images are all in keeping with your target participant. Be sure to include all relevant information, including the timing of the webinar, cost (if it’s free be sure to mention this) and the overall structure. Is it a panel discussion, an interview with an industry expert, an opportunity for interactive networking or a combination? Include a sign up button and make it pop. Entice potential participants with any relevant information – the opportunity to network, a famous / expert speaker, a giveaway contest etc. Try to make your flyer as SEO friendly as possible. Make your flyer look great with colour, photos and a great design. Canva is free (with a paid subscription available) and is a simple tool for designing flyers.
- Promote, promote, promote! Don’t expect participants to come to you, especially if the webinar will be live. If you’re working from a small client base be realistic with your expectations. You may want to pay for additional targeted advertising via Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram etc. Ask your friends, family, fans, co-hosts and partners to share your flyer and tag you in any social media posts. Don’t promote the event too far in advance, however. Unless the topic is earth shatteringly exciting, chances are people won’t block it off in their diaries weeks in advance. With social media, it’s more about telling people about an event a couple of days before, then reminding them again on the day itself. You can start referring to the event in any other relevant marketing material beforehand though, for example a mention in a blog post a week in advance.
- Consider your speakers/ partners. If you’re collaborating with other speakers, consider featuring their logo within any promotional material. You can include logos, links and other key profile information. Ask your partners to promote the webinar to their networks too. Make sure your speakers know what is expected of them in terms of the promotion and the agenda of the webinar itself. Always run practise webinar in advance. You might like to put together a cheatsheet with all this information and webinar tips readily available (example below). It’s also a good idea to nominate one person as a moderator. It’s their job to keep to timings and the agenda, and it’s up to you how involved they get in the actual discussions.
- Define the agenda. Draw up an agenda in advance for all speakers. The agenda doesn’t need to be rigidly defined, but it should at least give an idea of the flow. I’d recommend starting with an introduction to what the webinar is about, then introducing the individual speakers and their relation to the topic. At the end of the webinar you might like to offer a chance for feedback, questions or networking.
- Think of the technological logistics. Make sure your camera is clean so your image doesn’t appear fuzzy. Try to find a quiet space to speak which is well lit (natural light is best) and without messy backgrounds. If you’re hearing an echo, you might need to close your curtains, or avoid rooms with wooden / solid floors. Be sure to unmute yourself when you’re talking, and mute again when you’re not to avoid any interference. Always have a practise run and make sure your device is fully charged and the internet speed is good. If possible, connect with dial up unless you’re confident that your Wi-Fi is reliable. Ideally have a back up device (second laptop / phone / tablet) in case there is any problem with your device on the day. If you plan to do a lot of webinars, (or podcasts) then you might like to invest in a decent microphone.
- Speak to your audience. Make your webinar more interesting that a lecture. Use a poll midway webinar to engage speakers and gather information. Ask for user feedback through comments in the chat box. Consider a short presentation midway to mix things up. You might also want to remind participants midway and throughout that the webinar is being recorded and politely ask that they switch their cameras / microphone off if necessary. If you’ve got a moderator, they’ll need to keep an eye on timings and address any tech issues should they arise. And follow up afterwards with your participants to thank them for joining – a webinar should be the start of a conversation, not a one off event.
Are you about to host a webinar? If you’re looking for more webinar tips or advice, leave me a comment below.