You may have heard the term webinar being commonly used online but may have no idea what exactly it is. We can’t blame you for that. After all, it’s not a word that commonly pops up in casual conversation anyway. So, for those unfamiliar with a webinar, it’s short for Web-based seminars, a presentation, lecture, or workshop that is all over the Internet.
It’s a live online educational presentation that acts as an effective learning tool for reaching new audiences during which participating viewers can submit questions and comments.
These online events are often preferred as they help save travel time, providing agencies and businesses with economic benefits.
A webinar can be live or recorded and delivered “on-demand,”.
Giving the viewer the freedom to watch it whenever it’s convenient playing a vital role in the learner.
However, rather than requiring a download like a video podcast, a webinar uses a progressive video stream onto the user’s computer.
So there is no need for hard drive space nor managing leftover media files.
They are very useful for pulling in and in and keeping in touch with potential clients by showcasing your expertise and giving your company or brand a human voice.
What are webinars used for?
The use of webinars has been on the rapid rise of late alongside the capacity of trainers and learners to support it, especially considering the current COVID-19 crisis.
The potential they have in terms of training, as well as in professional development within small and medium businesses, has created a whole new market.
This is because previously, where companies would spend huge amounts of money on training outings and sessions, webinars allow for in-house up-skilling of staff.
Also, considering the fact that webinars can be live and interactive, allowing a simulated classroom experience.
As well as on-demand, for viewers to repeatedly watch whenever they want and as often as they want.
And makes it a very convenient, flexible, and efficient, learning model for businesses and brands.
Advantages of webinars:
The rapid development of infrastructure and software used for remote communication makes webinars cheaper and more available, especially in today’s climate.
Moreover, distance learning is becoming a far cheaper alternative to traditional training.
As fast internet connections are standard in every educational institution or enterprise.
The huge savings business makes (in terms of accommodation and travel) cannot be understated.
Moreover, webinars save time by offering trainees the capability to choose an hour that is most convenient for them.
They also eliminate the need for costly facilities, allowing this who can’t afford their training also to take part.
Not to mention the fact that since video webinars are accessible from any place.
It broadens accessibility to include participants throughout the world.
Post-training availability of content
As mentioned earlier, video webinars allow the trainer to record teaching sessions easily for other trainees.
Webinar sessions allow those seeking to improve their qualifications or retrain in a certain subject area even if they are unsure of what they want to study.
Moreover, learners can attend different webinars to view all available topics.
And options before selecting expensive traditional training formats or post-grad studies.
Increased openness and less personal communication barriers
The fact that members can remain somewhat anonymous partially helps individuals fear criticism and negative (non-constructive) feedback.
Giving them the opportunity to ask questions without fear freely.
Challenges of Webinars:
This style of learning also has its challenges.
Those who take part in traditional training are generally more focused on their studies than those participating in using this learning model.
While a webinar is in progress, it’s very easy to get distracted, which is detrimental to their learning experience.
To conduct a webinar properly, one needs the software and the knowledge and experience to use the software in the event of a possible issue or interruption.
And yet, most participants tend to have little knowledge in this regard besides installing the software and following the basic webinar instructions.
Limitations of non-verbal communication
Traditional meetings give people the chance to interact much better than online video sessions as dialogue tends to be limited and can become a challenge.
Most webinars have a limited duration of a few hours max, which forces content to be planned by the minute and limits.
The instructors to cover more topics and information more efficiently and thoroughly.
What this breakdown shows in short, is that despite the convenience it affords, conducting a webinar can be a stressful affair, especially for first-timers.
Yet, for many organizations, a webinar is the best opportunity for them to present to a large audience of leads, customers, industry experts, and in some cases, press.
And usually, it’s a live video, so if you mess up, it’s public.
Not to mention, this and the fact that experiencing technical difficulties is just one of the many things that can go wrong.
It’s important to release and accept that putting together a webinar is not always easy and can be a daunting process, especially if it’s your first try.
Despite this, though, webinars are one of the greatest tools in a marketer’s box, especially current times.
And while they might be online, webinars are no less serious than traditional, on-the-ground events.
With the right guidance, you can conduct your first webinar successfully.
How is a webinar conducted?
As we dive into topics such as; how a webinar works, is a webinar interactive, and so on.
It’s important to remember that the basic premise behind a good webinar is to give, receive, and discuss information.
Discussion boards can fulfill an interactive session and online chat-rooms provided on the same website as the webinar.
This increases the likelihood of participants discussing the relevant content
as an online community or, in some cases of live discussion and panel shows, take an active part in the presentation by asking questions or making statements directly to the speakers.
This does offer an increased amount of interaction that improves the engagement in the webinar’s experience.
Thus allowing for a better learning experience.
1. Establish the purpose of the webinar
Anyone who wants to organize webinar training has first to answer a fundamental question.
What exactly do you want this webinar to achieve?
There are usually two main types to consider: educational & product based webinars.
An educational webinar is giving away information on a specific topic to the audience.
Meanwhile, a product webinar is all about the product in question.
Product webinars are useful for those who are interested in learning more about your product and its features.
Regardless of whichever type of webinar you choose, you need to know what you plan to use the webinar for.
Your goal will determine which type of webinar you want to conduct.
It’s important to know how much money you can spend before you begin.
Your budget primarily covers participant registration and data collection.
As well as gathering personnel to help set up and manage the event and speaker fees.
If you don’t have the equipment needed, you will have to purchase hardware and headsets, etc.
3. Finding Speakers
Putting a good team together by finding great speakers and working with them to organize the presentation can be challenging.
The answer to this will depend on the scope of your webinar.
A smaller event only needs one person to act as both the moderator and speaker.
In comparison, a bigger event will probably require a separate moderator and one or more speakers during the zoom seminar.
- Assign a moderator — This is someone who will take charge of the event and ensure every aspect of it runs properly. Keep in mind that your conferencing vendor can also provide someone who’s an expert at serving as a chairperson.
- Pick the right candidates for your webinar – Examples of speakers you can choose include: Experienced people such as business executives and product managers, industry experts (recognized authorities will boost your attendance), and satisfied customers.
Keep in mind always providing good communication, key deadlines, and a solid plan for them to follow.
Which will ensure you’ll go a long way toward ensuring your first webinar’s success.
4. Choose a Webinar Service
Besides figuring out what a webinar is, you’ll also need to figure out at the beginning that the best webinar service platform you can utilize?
There are three must-have features for any webinar platform: the ability to share a desktop (as well as sharing a presentation, which they can all do).
The ability to record, and being able to run a chat session that all attendees can take part in.
It cannot overemphasize just how crucial it is for your event’s success that your moderator and speakers become very familiar.
And well-known in using the hardware and software that will deliver the webinar to your audience.
As such, you should consider using webinar software like zoom, that promotes engaging and interactive webinars.
These include services that offer features such as; polling, chatting, webcam, etc.
Besides interactive features, make sure to consider the number of people involved, ease of use of the service.
And the type of help and support you can expect to receive from the provider in the event of issues or interruptions.
There are several free webinar service providers like zoom that you could utilize, and that isn’t very complicated to put together.
Whether you’re doing a one-off or building a long term webinar series.
These seven are the most commonly used free webinar services:
- Google Hangouts
- YouTube Live
- Facebook Live
For a full list of webinar platforms, please visit Wikipedia’s listing for web conferencing software, which gives a good technical overview of some 80 products.
Capterra, a software marketing site, also lists over 100 Web Conferencing Software Products.
Also, remember first to try whatever platform you choose first. Some of them come with a trial period, with the option for more features once you pay.
Take advantage of this.
They’ll give you a good sense of what’s offered before you open your wallet and payout cash.
5. Designing the Branding & Webinar Presentation
When trying to understand what is a webinar presentation and what it’s content should be.
It’s best that the images you intend to use, have a purpose, and are easy for people to understand.
The most preferred presentation software is PowerPoint, so you should try to ensure that you include:
- Title slide – This contains the name of the seminar, the date, as well as the presenter’s name and title.
- Agenda slide – Include 4-6 main points.
- Content slides – For a 60-minute presentation, you’ll want 30-40 slides unless the speaker talks very fast, in which case I have seen someone get through 60 slides in 60 minutes.
- Conclusion slide – Pull it all together.
- Call-to-action – What do you want the audience to do next?
- Questions slide – How can the audience ask questions?
Always keep in mind that these slides are not just visual aids for your webinar; they are the core of your presentation.
So try to invest a good amount of time designing a good slide deck to help make the online seminar more engaging and effective.
Another important thing to consider is to choose the right amount of content, so the participants don’t get overwhelmed.
Try to avoid placing too much text into one slide and focus on the topic.
It is good to use diagrams or charts in place of text, and they should also help better explain the topic at hand.
Moreover, avoid repeating yourself when explaining.
It is also highly recommended always to upload them to your website and send them out prior to the webinar (or via the chat pane).
That way, attendees can print them out and take notes during the presentation if they wish.
6. Create a Registration Page
The best time to begin promoting your webinar and accepting registrations is about a month prior to the launch.
Any earlier and people can forget.
Any later and there will probably be less people who show up.
This is because you won’t have had enough time to effectively promote the webinar.
By the time you begin promoting your webinar, you need to provide a website or page that allows people to get more information and register online.
Moreover, before the webinar, you must advise learners of the goals and objectives of the webinar.
It is also necessary to publish the teacher and guest speakers’ biography as well as inform participants how they can set up their computers to facilitate an effective webinar session.
Here are some of the steps you should follow when creating your event registration page:
- Planning — Outline registration page details, such as content, page flow, and technical issues. You should also recruit a web designer to help with the layout structure.
- Confirmation – You need to ensure that those leading the webinar will officially be available. This means the speakers, moderators, presenters, interviewers, etc.
- Content structure — This involves adding important details such as; the seminar description, benefits of attendance, speaker photographs, and professional background details, etc.
- Registration form — One simple form should make it straightforward to register for the webinar.
- Thank-you pop up — Show your appreciation for those participants who’ve now signed their attendance.
- Email Confirmation — Your email system should automatically send registered participants an email confirmation with more details.
- Registration numbers — Keep track of your registrations throughout the process. This will help you assess what’s working and what’s not working from a marketing strategy perspective.
- Registration validation — You might not want some people (such as competitors) to attend. It’s up to you to figure out how you want to address these registers. You can simply ignore these individuals and not send the relevant information, or excuse yourself by letting them know that your webinar has reached full capacity.
You should also consider capturing the clients’ attention by including images of people.
And things the potential webinar participants can relate to or that visually show what participants will be learning in the webinar.
7. Practice & test out the equipment
Before delivering a webinar, it’s important to practice.
This primarily involves working with the speakers before the webinar to ensure a smooth presentation better.
As well as checking that the system works properly before the webinar (e.g., online internet connections, speakers, and microphone), etc.
8. Confirm Participants & Promote to Boost Attendance
Once people register for your webinar, the majority of the time, a significant number of them may not show up to the event.
It happens often.
In fact, in most cases, you can probably expect half of the people who register to attend it.
Most statistics say that normally about 40-60 percent of the registered attendees actually show up.
But it also depends on the webinar topic and frequency of events.
It is for this reason that when it comes to setting up a successful webinar, timing is everything.
To choose the best possible day, it’s best to take into account people’s basic scheduling conflicts.
For instance, it’s best to avoid Mondays, which are too busy.
Also don’t choose Fridays, because that’s when people are getting off work and are simply looking forward to the weekend.
You will also need to eliminate holidays and the days before and after the holidays.
To determine the right time, be aware that:
- Most participants like to attend during lunchtime, a good time is 1 p.m. Central time — if you’re promoting nationwide.
- Plus, if you’re targeting people in only one or two time zones, schedule the event between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Additionally, keep in mind that if registrants aren’t remind of all the relevant webinar details.
And how to join the session or what time it takes place, they will not attend, but there are ways to prevent this:
- One week before the webinar — Email a calendar reminder.
- One day before the webinar — Send an email with the access details.
- Morning of the webinar— Send the access information email once more just in case.
To increase marketing efforts, you can also help broaden the seminar’s outreach by asking partner organizations or brands to help market through email.
And website postings and post the registration links on newsletters, social media sites, etc.
9. Record the Webinar
Webinar’s advantage over traditional methods is the recording feature.
On platforms like zoom, audio and video can be recorded, with chat sessions included.
It’s a straightforward and automatic process that requires little to no effort on your part.
This allows it to be replayed and viewed by any number of people.
Thereby turning a live seminar into a permanent reference point.
Recording your zoom webinar is super important for a variety of reasons.
- Those who’ve registered for your webinar normally expect that a recording will be available afterward. This is because, if attendees have to leave early, they expect to be able to catch the recording later.
- After attending the live event, webinar attendees may want to recommend watching the seminar to a colleague.
- Recordings allow you or the speakers to get a transcription made. This helps in creating other pieces of content from the webinar experience.
- Transcription can also be used on your website to help with SEO purposes as well as to convert new visitors into leads.
- Transcription of the recorded seminar also provides a valuable opportunity for those who are hearing impaired, also access the content.
- Having a recording ready is valuable when recruiting new speakers so they can see what your webinars are like. And what topics previous speakers have covered and how they covered them.
- New visitors may find past webinars useful as a reference in educating themselves on a past topic.
These values offered by webinars aren’t present in other traditional training.
This is why it is important to ensure you have the right recording software and equipment ready prior to the start of the presentation.
One of the methods often used for delivering recordings is to upload the video to YouTube as an unlisted video and then embed it on your website.
Another option is to allow people to download the video so that they can save the full webinar session directly on their computers.
However, keep in mind that you can also always choose to do both.
10. Overseeing the Webinar
During the live session, here are some tips to help you conduct the webinar without any interruptions.
Before the zoom video session begins, make sure the speakers do the following:
- Have some water available nearby before the start of the session
- Turn off all nearby phones or put them on silent. You should also ask them to make sure that nobody comes into the room during the live webinar to interrupt.
- To avoid crashes or video stream delays/lags, they should shut down all computer programs except the webinar software and slides.
- Use the microphone/headset approved at the tech check or dry run.
- Don’t forget to check in with your social media manager, IT help person, and other relevant assistants to make sure they prepare to execute their areas of responsibility well.
Also, as mentioned previously, engagement is crucial when conducting a successful online video seminar.
So to help you make a dynamic and memorable webinar, you should try to foster active participation.
Active participation is when the audience interacts with the presenter and other audience members instead of simply listening.
Speakers can achieve this at the start of the session by asking the audience simple questions that allow them to practice the poll and discussion features.
This lets the participants feel more at ease and familiar with the webinar software/platform before officially starting.
Other key points to help increase engagement with audiences include:
- It was encouraging those who registered to attend the online seminar prepared by posting all the questions, resources, and additional information about the presentation ahead of time.
- You are interacting with clients by leaving time at the end of the presentation for questions. You should also give the presenter’s contact information for questions after the zoom session.
11. Get Feedback
Feedback will prove very useful for you even if it is not always complimentary with a follow-up after the webinar is just as important as promoting the webinar before the event.
Audience members can provide excellent feedback for reflection when they evaluate the speaker’s expertise.
Liv perspective on how they increased their knowledge and skills, strengths, and weaknesses of the presentation and ideas on improvements for the next webinar session.
Additionally, you should consider sending an email to all the registrants with a link to the recording and slides after the webinar.
You can also send a different email to those who didn’t attend as you can show them what they missed out on.
Regarding those who did attend, you should have already determined what you want the next steps to be for further leads.
You should also consider sending those who attended the webinar a thank you email with these details:
- Survey – This will help you understand what people liked or didn’t like about the presentation to help make future improvements. It also provides an opportunity to ask attendees what they plan to do with the new information they have learned and what other webinars, topics, and speakers they would like to see.
- Link to a PDF or video of the webinar – The link should include a summary page and slides that webinar participants can refer to after the webinar is over.
- Links to related publications or other materials
- Advertisements for future events
You should usually try to send the above via email no later than 48 hours after the webinar’s conclusion.
The earlier you send it, the more useful and effective the post-webinar material will be to them.
12. Post Webinar
As mentioned at the beginning, when we were defining what a webinar is, it can be something very daunting to organize and execute well.
So you shouldn’t let all this effort go to waste even after the event is over.
There are many other ways you can use the webinar’s content after the event day.
For example, the speaker may be willing to write a post on the topic they just covered and develop it into your blog post.
Other ways include; turning a part of the webinar content into an infographic or starting a podcast with you or the speaker dissecting the online seminar play-by-play.
It is also helpful to create a post-event audit to document your event and provide qualitative and quantitative results that will help better improve your next Webinar session.
Despite all the work that goes into it, it isn’t that difficult to create a webinar.
That’s why so many free tools are available.
At the same time, it’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality when creating your first webinar.
All the information and steps outlined above should help you well understand what a webinar is.
And also put you on your way to a productive first webinar experience and show you how to improve the experience for future sessions better.