Top Tech Tips: 10 Ways to Produce a High-Impact Webinar
Webinars can be a low-cost, highly efficient way for businesses to share their expertise with others. When done well, a webinar can generate new sales leads, offer valuable knowledge to existing customers, broaden your company’s reputation as a thought leader—even provide continuing education credits to working professionals.
To learn the secrets of staging a successful webinar, we spoke with Kyle Kraus, vice president of new business and digital for The Food Group, a leading marketing firm specializing in the food industry. The Food Group conducts three or four webinars per month for its clients using Cisco WebEx.
Here are Kraus’s top 10 tips for conducting a high-impact webinar.
1. Focus on relevant, hot topics. What are your customers worrying about right now? What changes in your industry, such as new regulations, do they need to know about? These are the subjects that make for well-attended webinars.
2. Be engaging. Is your subject matter expert dry as a bone? Pair the expert with another presenter who’ll keep things lively. Encouraging attendees to ask questions throughout the webinar, instead of holding them until the end, keeps things interactive as well. Ideally, you should have someone who isn’t a presenter field the questions (which are received as instant messages within WebEx) and share the most interesting ones with the presenters.
3. Offer compelling visuals. Simply reading a PowerPoint deck turns a webinar into a snoozefest. Add video, photos, or infographics, or show examples from live web sites, to hold attention. With a WebEx webinar, you can annotate your presentation in real time, such as using a pointer to draw attention to an image. This helps keep viewers engaged, too.
4. Don’t put everything on your slides. Keep your bulleted points as short as possible. Leave the details as well as some of your key points off your slides and just make them verbally. This encourages audiences to pay attention, because they know they won’t get the full information from the slides.
5. Use a good-quality telephone headset and a landline. Avoid using speakerphones and cell phones whenever possible. Make sure the host has a backup phone number for every presenter. That way, if a presenter’s connection fails, another presenter can quickly call him or her back on another line.
6. Mute all attendee phones. The last thing a presenter needs is to be distracted by an attendee’s dog barking in the background.
7. Use Ethernet connections for presenters. A hardwired Internet connection is generally faster and more reliable than a wireless connection, Kraus says. At a minimum, the webinar host should use a fast Ethernet connection.
8. Record the webinar—but don’t necessarily make it available to others. WebEx webinars can be recorded for playback later. Recording a webinar helps presenters identify areas for improvement, so they can take those lessons learned to make future webinars more powerful. WebEx lets you track participation levels throughout a webinar. Those analytics combined with your webinar recording can help you spot where audience participation dipped or increased.
You could make the recorded WebEx webinar available for streaming or downloading online. However, not making it available afterwards has advantages. “If it’s going to be freely available later, why would people bother attending the live session?” Kraus wonders.
9. Don’t do it all yourself. Unless you’re an expert in every facet of how to run a webinar, you need someone to help you host and present the webinar. In case of unexpected issues arise—such as telephone connection problems—you don’t want to accidentally end the webinar and lose all your attendees, because you won’t get a second chance, Kraus says.
10. Rehearse. Always do a run-through of the webinar with all presenters, to make sure everyone’s comfortable with the system and knows how to ensure that their main points are delivered effectively.
To learn more about how The Food Group developed a webinar business, watch this: