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Webinar II (the sequel) – Ten Best Practices – or at least what’s worked for me

by | Jun 29, 2011

Having given a few dozen webinars on a variety of topics over the years, I thought I’d share some tips on what’s worked for me. This isn’t meant to be the definitive guide to giving a webinar – just some helpful guidelines to get you started down the path to success with online presentations.

  • Target Your Message – Don’t try to be everything to everyone – targeting your message to your audience will speak to them more directly. If your offering(s) address several business groups/titles/industries/etc – consider a series of webinars – each one specific to a select group.
  • “What’s in it for me?” – Keep your Webinar Benefits Focused – When talking about our companies offerings, we all tend to expound on all the wonderful features that they have – but the prospects are more concerned with the ‘what’s in it for me’ benefits, and that’s how a webinar should be positioned, highlighting how your products and/or services help satisfy your customer’s requirements and meet their needs. (This may seem redundant with point one, but can’t be emphasized enough).
  • The Write Stuff – Write a script or at least notes for talking points. When I give a webinar, I write a script of exactly what I’m going to say – the key is to read it without sounding like you’re reading. My colleague on the other hand, prefers to make notes on talking points, and be a little more candid with the conversation. Use whatever method works for you – but have something written down to refer to to keep you on track.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice – Usually a webinar is given by two or more people – a moderator who may also act as the presenter, another presenter or two, and a more technically savvy person who gives a demonstration. All of those involved in the presentation should practice together at least once (and I would recommend several more times) to ensure the transition is smooth – and the webinar sounds professional.
  • Everything Comes Down to Timing – Don’t send invitations too early – you lose the sense of urgency – a couple of weeks in advance is sufficient as several studies show that most attendees will register in the ten days before the event – and many the day before. Schedule your webinars for a half hour as it’s much easier to get people to commit to that amount of time than a whole hour. If your topic requires more time than 30 minutes allows, consider breaking it down into two or more presentations – a webinar series. Begin your presentation a couple minutes after the scheduled start time so attendees will have a moment or two to get settled. And, a couple of minutes past shouldn’t be too much delay to annoy those who arrived on time or early.
  • Don’t Forget the Reminders – Webinar notifications to remind registrants should be sent out both the week and day before the event, as well as one hour prior to start time. Post-webinar follow-up emails should be sent as well – to both attendees, thanking them for their time and offering incentives to keep in touch, and registrants who didn’t attend, to keep in touch and reengage with another opportunity to attend another webinar, visit your web site or other incentive.
  • “Am I in the right place?” – Be sure to have a meeting notification (pre-webinar screen) in place when your attendees arrive, so they’ll know they’re in the right place and feel welcome.
  • “Please hold your questions until the end of the presentation…” – At the beginning of the webinar, let your audience know that you’ll address any questions at the conclusion of the demonstration. Chances are that many of their questions will be answered in the presentation anyway, and it also gives audience members who just want to hear the ‘meat’ of the webinar the chance to sign off if they don’t want to participate in the Q and A. It’s a good idea to prepare some canned questions in advance, just in case there aren’t many asked by your audience.
  • GoToWebinar – A cost-effective ($99/month) webinar tool is GoToWebinar – by the same company, Citrix, that has GoToMeeting. GoToWebinar has the tools for invitation and reminder creation and distribution, registrant and attendee tracking, and webinar practice and recording.
  • Play it again, Sam – Record your webinar for later distribution and online posting.

As they say in showbiz, break a leg…Scott