Webinars are incredibly common. Chances are, you have a few webinar invites in your inbox right now. If not, a quick online search for “webinar” will bring an overwhelming number of results. But, don’t get lost in the world of webinars just yet. There’s a reason you can find webinars everywhere…
It’s because they actually work.
Hosting a webinar can help you generate trust between you and your audience, generate new leads, build brand value with your target audience and build an increased understanding of your products and services by an estimated 74%. And, in a much more affordable way than a conference.
However, all this is contingent on hosting a webinar correctly. And doing so is far from easy.
We’ve compiled some of the secrets to hosting a successful webinar to keep you from making expensive, avoidable mistakes. But remember, even if you make a few mistakes in your webinars, it’s no big deal; the key is to learn from your mistakes and improve your webinars.
Our top tips on how to host a successful webinar include:
- Focus on your Webinar Content
- Set Up Your Sound Correctly
- Practice Makes Perfect
- Choose the Right Format
- Use the Right Tools
- Document, Review and Improve
1. Focus on Your Webinar Content
You’ve likely heard the adage ‘content is king.’ While this is true, remarkable content is essential; it’s equally important to make sure you focus on the right content. One of the biggest mistakes webinar hosts make is focusing too much on closing a sale, and not enough on their content.
Don’t get me wrong, that moment of a sale is necessary. You’re likely not paying for people to watch your webinar for free for no reason! However, sacrificing your content’s quality will undermine your credibility when you start talking about your products or services.
There are a few key areas you should evaluate your content by:
First, take a look at your presentation. On a surface level, this is very much the visual appeal of your presentation. Take a look at yourself in your webcam; is there anything in your background that could distract or detract from your delivery? How is your internet connection? Do you feel practiced enough with your presentation ahead of time? How is the audio on your webinar? All of these are crucial components that your audience will be judging you on.
And, it’s crucial to keep your audience in mind. Are they expecting a more formal business presentation? Or something more casual? Keep your audience in mind and tailor your presentation’s visuals to make sure it’ll resonate with them.
Second, one of the most effective ways to connect with your audience, hold their attention, and make sure they actually take away something memorable from your webinar is storytelling. Storytelling is an art. And when done well, your potential leads will have an easier time remembering your presentation’s critical parts when intertwined with a memorable story.
Storytelling can help you relay your content clearly and accurately. If you’re unsure where to start, reach out to a skilled copywriter or producer to help you write engaging, relevant stories or polish what you already have.
Lastly, the most critical part of your content is interaction. If you don’t interact with your audience, they may as well catch a replay of your webinar online later. Your audience is live, and they should get more out of your webinar by watching live. Additionally, interacting with your audience is a great way to build rapport and genuinely engage with them. This could be by setting aside some time for a Q&A and provide live feedback for them. After all, they signed up for a webinar to learn from you – taking a chunk of time to help them learn more about your product is another way to provide even more value.
Lastly, we recommend waiting until the very end to talk about your product. If you start selling hard and fast in the beginning, chances are your audience will be turned off. No one likes being sold to. Leaving your product until the last, after providing valuable and helpful content, will help you come across as trying to help them find a solution – rather than trying to meet your sales quota.
2. Set Up Your Sound Correctly
In the same way that ensuring your presentation is visually and aesthetically pleasing, ensuring your webinar’s sound is correctly set up is one of the most quintessential factors in hosting a successful webinar.
If there’s lag, an echo, or volume issues, chances are your listeners are going to check out pretty quickly.
To avoid any technical problems, make sure you select the right location for your webinar. Test out a few rooms in your office or home to make sure it’s soundproof and ensure that your internet connection remains strong.
Keep in mind that some technical problems are unavoidable. You can practice and ensure everything is set up correctly, but, sometimes issues still occur. While you’re hosting a webinar, your focus will be (and should be!) entirely on hosting, not fixing any technical problems. Having a technical assistant to take care of these problems for you while you’re hosting can take the pressure off, and make sure that any issues that arise are dealt with promptly.
Lastly, you may want to consider using an external microphone for your webinar. Typically, these microphones provide much higher quality sound for your audience rather than the built-in microphone on your desktop or laptop.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
When it comes to hosting a successful webinar, or any public speaking, practicing is essential.
Now, rehearsing does not mean practicing to the point of becoming robotic and monotoned. Instead, it’s vital to practice enough so you’re familiar and confident with your topic. You can do this by recording yourself or practicing your presentation in front of coworkers, friends, or even family.
Practicing is also an effective way to ensure any potential technical issues are dealt with in advance. Record yourself and watch it back a few times. Is the sound quality good? How are your presenting skills? Are you starting and ending every sentence with “um” or “so”? Are you speaking too quickly or too slowly? Recording yourself and watching it back can help you see your webinar through your audience’s eyes and eliminate any distractions that could undermine your credibility or clarity.
While practicing, try to maintain a conversational tone. The average attention span of an audience is around 10 minutes. And that’s for a live audience.
When you’re hosting a webinar, your audience is already on their device – meaning you’re competing in the same space as social media notifications and their email inbox.
One way you can keep your tone more conversational is to imagine that you’re speaking to a good friend, colleague, or even your mom (whatever works!). If you have 300 attendees in your webinar, you’re actually having 300 one-to-one conversations.
Address your audience by saying, “you.” So, instead of saying, “does anyone have a question?” try, “is there anything you would like to ask me?”. Conversely, instead of starting with, “today, I’ll be showing everyone…” try, “Today, you will learn about…”. Making each person feel like you’re talking specifically to them will help them feel engaged and help you beat out any other notifications or distractions you’re competing with.
Lastly, as a way to break the ice and connect with your audience, try using humor. Don’t be afraid to lighten the mood and throw in a joke or funny story. But keep in mind, while humor can be an excellent tool to build relationships and put people at ease, it always has the chance of being offensive – whether intended or not. Be selective and make sure your jokes are relevant and don’t run the risk of offending your audience.
4. Choose the Right Format
After you’ve decided on your content and worked out your webinar’s fundamentals, you’ll want to pick the right format for your content and your audience.
A few standard formats include:
- Single presenter: Having one expert present on a topic. This is one of the most common webinar formats.
- Dual presenters: Often, instead of having one person present, two people will present the webinar. This can help keep it more conversational and engaging for your audience.
- Panel: Having a live panel of experts can be an incredibly engaging way to discuss your webinar topic. If you can get influencers from your specific industry, it can also help drum up interest for your webinar.
- Live Q&A: Having a live Q&A is a great way to engage your audience. You can include a team of experts to answer questions collected from social media or live chat.
- Interview: Having a guest speaker or influencer with popularity can be a great way to draw more people to your webinar and add credibility to your product or service.
- Demonstration: Whether you have a product, service or software, holding a demonstration webinar can be a great way to promote and educate your audience.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up with more than one format per webinar. Now, we don’t recommend cramming them all into one webinar, but perhaps after presenting most of the webinar with a partner, you move into a Q&A session. Or, after presenting your webinar, you move into a live panel to discuss specific topics or features. Incorporating two formats can help your audience stay engaged and gain more value.
5. Use the Right Tools
Using the right tools can be the difference between an okay webinar and a hugely successful webinar. A few tools you’ll want to consider are:
- A webinar platform
- Presentation tools
First, you’ll want to pick the actual webinar platform you’ll use. Many companies use GoToWebinar, but a few others include WebinarJam and Demio. Build your criteria, such as price and functionality, and you’ll be able to find the best webinar software for your needs.
Next, there are a few tools that can make building your presentation a breeze, such as Zight (formerly CloudApp). We realize we might be biased, but after giving Zight (formerly CloudApp) a try, you’ll see why.
Whether you need to create a quick GIF, screenshot, or use a free screen recorder, it takes mere seconds with Zight (formerly CloudApp). You can then insert your visual creations directly into your presentation. Using visuals is essential – especially for a webinar. With Zight (formerly CloudApp), you can quickly annotate those GIFs or Screenshots, meaning it’ll be easier than ever to explain sophisticated features, how-tos, and more.
6. Document, Review and Improve
Webinars are effective. However, you might have to hold a number of them until you’ve perfected your process. And once you have, you’ll likely want to keep holding them to reap all the benefits. That’s why it’s essential to document your entire process and then review it.
Keep a document of what sound equipment you used, which platform, what format you used, and anything else you’ll find helpful later. Go through your documentation and evaluate what worked and what didn’t. If you run into any snags, use it as an opportunity to find a better solution to help your next webinar run smoother.
Holding a successful webinar will likely be a process – and (hopefully!), you’ll get better and better with time. Taking the time to reflect on what was effective and what wasn’t can help you be more effective in your next webinar.
We hope this article helped you understand how to host a successful webinar. If you put these suggestions to work, we firmly believe your next webinar will be less likely to get lost in the masses of webinars.
Don’t forget to download a free version of Zight (formerly CloudApp) before preparing your next webinar. You’ll be surprised just how easy it is to add stunning visuals to your presentation to help bring clarity to your webinar.