By George Karalias, Digital Campaigns & Content Manager
Since the introduction of the internet, people have attempted to utilize it on a massive scale to disseminate information to as many people as possible. It did not take long for webinars to take their place alongside email, websites, and online chat forums with the first webinars, or “web” (sem) years, taking place over 30 years, in the 1980s. Fast forward to today, amidst a global pandemic, that has raged on for almost 2 years, webinars and virtual presentations have never been more widely used. From Graduation ceremonies and court hearings to weekly townhalls and trainings, webinars have become an important part of our virtual lives.
Most of the time, when people join a webinar, to them, it is as simple as registering, receiving a reminder link on the day of the webinar, and joining the live session and listening through their computer speakers. But what they don’t realize is all of the work that goes into producing that virtual event. This blog will outline 5 critical things you need to know when planning a webinar.
1) Live vs Recorded (On-Demand)
It is always important to determine if your webinar will take place Live or On-demand before you even announce the webinar. Live is almost always best because it presents your audience with a direct connection to the speaker, and the option to engage with the speaker/presenter in real-time. However, it is often, completely unnecessary for most webinars. On the other hand, on-demand eliminates the potential of internet or audio issues, it gives the presenter the option to pre-record and fine-tune their presentation and takes some of the stress off you as the moderator and host. Depending on the webinar delivery platform you are utilizing, sometimes there is a “secret” third option, Simu-live, or simulated-live. This is where your presenter pre-records their presentation and delivers it as though they are presenting to a live audience, however, they log on for the conclusion of the presentation and participate in a live Question & Answer session. This option is a blending of the live and on-demand and often can provide the best user experience.
You should decide which of these two (or three, depending on your webinar platform) methods are best for your audience and your webinar type when planning to go live.
2) Is This worth the Attendee’s Time?
In some cases, webinars are just a necessary evil. A way to harvest leads at the top of the funnel and deliver new prospects to a hungry sales team. If the webinar serves no purpose other than to gather names and emails, then it is indeed an evil. But if the webinar does have a purpose and offers a worthwhile experience, it’s more than worth the time spent attending.
With that said, when you plan your webinar, answer these questions.
- Are you going to eloquently show your company’s expertise?
- Is the webinar going to be good enough to share on social media?
- Are you looking to showcase your partnerships?
- And, in a perfect scenario, are you going to entertain your audience?
If your answer to one or more of these questions is yes, then your webinar is likely “worth it”.
Let’s look at recent examples. We’ve been conducting webinars with several major manufacturers on a regular basis. The presentations center around new product introductions or infrastructure innovations. Although the aim here is to sell products and services, there is a clear intent to show the audience how these will help them and their companies. The question-and-answer segment of the webinar allows an audience member to get even deeper information pertaining their situation.
3) What is your intended focus? Sales or Thought Leadership?
If you’re going to sell to the audience, make that as clear as possible. Don’t try to mask the obvious. If someone is attending and knows it’s a sales pitch, there’s a strong chance they are serious about your product and they want confirmation that this is the right decision for them and their company.
Even when it’s a selling scenario, you’re still building trust and offering a way to solve an attendee’s problem. The features and functions of your offering are the tools that will help the customer. Don’t mince words. It’s helped others and it will now help them.
4) Finally, let’s look at follow-up with attendees (and non-attendees)?
Give the audience a chance to review the webinar again with an on-demand version. Allow them to download a copy of the presentation. Send them to sources with more information. Ask their opinion of what they thought of the webinar through a survey and what topics they’d like to see in the future. Encourage the audience to reach out for one-on-one assistance.
5) Will there be technical difficulties?
Yes! Due to our reliance on individual users’ internet connection, phone service, and Internet Service Provider (ISP), we are always at risk of some sort of technical difficulty when providing a webinar. It is a proven fact and there is no way to anticipate all technical difficulties. These things are just out of our control. Don’t Panic! There is oftentimes a quick fix to most common problems and in the majority of cases, your audience understands the reality of a technical glitch!
To help keep your webinar running smoothly and try to eliminate the potential for technical glitches, you can do a few things.
- Encourage your presenter(s) to complete a systems test before joining the event to ensure their device is configured properly.
- Complete a dry run with your speakers before the webinar. This gives them time to use the platform and ask any questions before the live event.
- Come up with a backup plan, if your presenter get disconnected
Webinar technical issues are no fun. But with a little planning and the right know-how, you’ll be able to remedy them quickly and keep them from ruining your webinar.
As I said before, webinars are a part of our everyday life. And before your organization plans your next webinar, try to answer these five questions to help you be better prepared and provide a top-notch webinar experience to your audience.
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