A webinar can seem like it’s not a major event on par with a keynote address – after all, it’s usually just a person, sitting in a closed room talking on the phone, scrolling through a slide deck. No big deal, right? Yet a successful webinar can attract hundreds, even thousands of people to tune in, many times more than some real-life conference keynotes. How do you ensure a great webinar experience that will deliver the reputation and marketing results you’re looking for?
First, some infrastructure tips. When you’re doing a webinar, be on the fastest, most reliable, most modern computer at your office that you can get access to, and ensure that nothing else is running. Turn off every other application, every background process, the antivirus software, etc. so that the webinar software is the only thing running on that machine.
If you’re delivering the webinar’s audio through the Internet, then you must, without exception, be connected to the Internet by an Ethernet cable. Wi-Fi is a giant no-no because latency can cause your voice to break up or get scrambled. If you’re delivering the webinar over the phone, make sure it’s a hard-wired phone and not a mobile phone. Good audio combined with good posture can evoke a very different mental image of you in your audience. You probably actually look like this:
But you should sound like this:
If you need to be checking social media for feedback, use a second computer or a tablet for that. Many webinar software packages are browser-based, and out of habit, we can close the entire browser instead of the tab we’re in, shutting down the entire webinar instead of the social feed we were using. Always use a second device!
As with public speaking, you’ll want to have a bottle of water handy in case your mouth or throat get dry from talking. Be sure you use a high quality headset or a phone with a mute button so that you can eliminate any coughs, sneezes, and other distracting interruptions.
The prohibition against using more than a handful of words on slides isn’t as strong for a webinar because most of the time, you’re not broadcasting a video of yourself, just the slides. Having a little bit more for your audience to read is okay.
Think of a webinar in terms of delivering a story, almost like reading a story to a child. Without the visual element of the speaker being on stage, you have to convey much more emphasis and emotion using your voice alone. It’s perfectly okay to script out or write out the entirety of the webinar and read it aloud if that frees you up to focus more on your delivery.
Another easy tip to deliver a webinar in a compelling way? Wear a headset and stand up while you speak. Your voice changes dramatically depending on whether you’re sitting or standing.
Ensure that your webinar speaker provides a list of takeaways and tweetable moments in advance. At SHIFT, we go so far as to set up a landing page with the tweets pre-written so that attendees can touch/click a tweet and spend less time being distracted by sharing and more time listening.
Publicize your webinar with increasing frequency. The majority of your signups for a webinar occur at two points, when it’s first announced and the day of the webinar as people find free time on their calendars to attend. Using email marketing, publicize a webinar at 14 days out, 7 days out, the day before, and the day of the event. Using social media, publicize at 14 days out, 7 days out, 3 days out, 2 days out, the day before, the morning of, an hour before, and at starting time with a “still time to join” message.
After the webinar ends, provide materials as quickly as possible, such as slides and a recording, so that attendees can share it with their colleagues while they’re still energized by it. Free audio recording software like Audacity makes the processing of audio significantly faster; after a recent webinar, we were able to share the audio within 30 minutes of the event ending.
These tips can help go a long way towards making your next webinar a successful one – give them a try!
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology