What is a webinar?
A webinar is a live videoconference that is held virtually, allowing presenters to reach an online audience located anywhere in the world. It's a blend of the words "web" and "seminar" and can be compared to similar events held in physical locations. Since a webinar is conducted in real-time, the presenters can interact with the audience using polls and a live Q&A.
Benefits of a webinar
When the goal is to reach a large audience, but a physical event is impractical, a webinar can be the best solution. Many business leaders turn to a live webinar as a form of real-time conferencing to communicate with employees, vendors, potential customers, or other industry leaders. Webinars offer many benefits, including:
- Significantly lower cost compared to a live physical event, since there is no venue to book.
- Ease of scheduling, since attendees don't need to gather in one location.
- High audience reach, since people don’t have to travel to attend the event.
- The ability to present to people in a wide range of locations simultaneously.
- Potential for recording and re-watching post webinar.
- The ability to be re-packaged and disseminated as a teaching tool or shared as an incentive.
- Usability for trainings or briefings when information must be shared repetitively.
Webinar hosting can provide a platform for information sharing, coaching, and brainstorming. An online webinar can be repurposed in many different ways—informational guide, blog post or blog series, white paper, etc.— for later use, creating even more value.
Webinar planning and preparation
Setting up a webinar requires careful preparation to ensure your live event goes off without a hitch. To set up effective business webinars, follow these steps:
1. Organize your information
Collect all the information you want to share and order it logically so you flow naturally from one sub-topic to another. Find or create supporting webinar images or graphs and prepare your supporting slides. You'll also want to prepare answers to frequently asked questions if you are planning a Q&A segment.
2. Write your script
A webinar script should be well organized and flow naturally. If your webinar features slides containing text, don’t recite them word for word. Instead, find a way to paraphrase the main idea behind each point. Include an introduction to your webinar and a closing that provides a call to action (CTA). Leave time during your webinar for a Q&A segment.
3. Sync your slides and script
Run through your presentation and match your prepared slides to your script so you can note when you need to change screens. Add screens to highlight points that will be open for discussion. Prepare a separate screen for the Q&A that contains your CTA and any other information you want your audience to know.
Once your presentation has been laid out, it’s time to make sure you have all the technical requirements covered.
Choose an environment that is quiet, properly lit, and has plenty of outlets for your webinar equipment. If your webinar will feature live video footage, make sure you have a good background or consider designing a backdrop that fits with your brand.
Your webinar audio equipment should consist of a decent pair of speakers and a high-quality microphone. Plan on having a backup for each piece of equipment in case of a breakdown or malfunction. For visual, you’ll need a webcam and screen-sharing software. If you use a tool or service, such as GoToWebinar, to create webinars online, it will typically configure your audio-visual devices automatically.
You’ll need an internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to support the data requirements of your webinar streaming. Your network will need to be webinar compliant, and your internet speed needs to be at a level that will facilitate clear picture and sound.
Tips for leading a webinar
To successfully lead a webinar, researching in advance is rule one. You’ll need to:
- Identify the right topic. It should be one that will be of interest to your audience and provide them with actionable value.
- Invite the right guests. Your guest list should include respected people from your industry or adjacent industries who can relate and speak to the issues your audience may be facing.
- Utilize the right format. A live video feed, slide presentation, or combination of webcam and screen-sharing options may be appropriate.
Tips for presenting
Webinar best practices include following a relaxed protocol that logically progresses from start to finish and ensures everyone has a good experience.
Everyone in the audience should have their mics muted—you can do this as the presenter. If there is more than one presenter, only one mic should be turned on at a time unless they are having a conversation.
- Recording and other practicalities
The first—and most important—step of the webinar process is to turn on the record webinar function. Next, begin with any “housecleaning” items: Welcome your audience, reiterate the name and purpose of the webinar, and introduce your presenters. Explain how the webinar will progress and identify appropriate audience interaction channels, such as the chat bar.
Control your Q&A by allowing participants to ask questions in chat. Activate their microphone to enable voice discussion or read their question and discuss it.
What to do after a webinar
After your presentation, there are several things you can do to increase the overall impact of your webinar and set the stage for your next one.
- Send a webinar follow-up email to thank your attendees and provide them with a link to the recording.
- Examine your webinar metrics to compare how many people signed up with the number of people who attended.
- Transcribe your webinar and turn it into a whitepaper to download or a blog for posting on your website
- Send out a survey to your webinar attendees asking them to rate the webinar on a numbered scale. Provide a field for them to offer detailed feedback or suggestions for future webinars.
Webinars are an essential tool for online communication with your employees and vendors. By following this guide, you can plan, create, and present the first of many successful webinars.