Webinar Best Practices: 11 Tips for Hosting a Next-level Webinar

sovrnmarketing // October 26, 2016

microphone closeup

Webinars are a fantastic way to generate new leads, connect with your customers, and grow your business. However, webinars are not for the faint of heart. They take a lot of preparation, and because they’re live, can be stressful if technical problems occur.
Here are eleven best practices for hosting a webinar that is informative, engaging, and minimally stressful.

1. Have three webinar presenters.

Have you ever noticed that most radio shows tend to have three hosts?

Like radio, the magic number for webinars is three. I recommend having one moderator and two panelists who are experts in the subject at hand. Having three presenters makes the webinar feel more like a lively conversation and less like a Q&A.

2. Create an example- and image-heavy slide deck.

Use slides with a lot of images and keep text to a minimum. After all, your audience is trying to listen – don’t give them too much to read.

Screenshots in particular go a long way. Show your audience real-life examples of what does and doesn’t work.

Pro-tip – have one of your panelists outline the webinar for you. That way the webinar will follow a natural flow and cover the important questions.

4. Send out a pre-webinar questionnaire.

Send out an pre-webinar email to the webinar sign-ups with a questionnaire attached. Hearing your audience’s questions before the webinar will help you prepare the slide deck and ensure you answer the most important questions.

5. Have a dress rehearsal.

Several days before the webinar, host a practice webinar with the panelists. This helps you work out all the technological kinks as well as get a cadence for who will speak when.

6. Promote the webinar with a graphic.

When promoting our webinars, I always create a graphic to promote the webinar on social. In the graphic, I include the date, a photo of one or both the panelists, and a call-to-action.

Graphic are especially helpful on Twitter, where you have few characters to get your point across.

Pro tip – don’t use paid social ads on Twitter, Facebook or AdWords, as they don’t generally work well for webinar promotion. A better approach is send an email blast to your target email list.

7. Use an ethernet cable.

I HIGHLY recommend using an ethernet cable during the webinar, as it’s much more reliable than wifi. Wifi can fail you when you most need it – trust me, I learned this one the hard way.

If your panelists are calling in, ask them to use an ethernet cable as well. Additionally, tell your panelists to sign into the webinar 10-15 minutes before the start time to test audio.

8. Record the webinar so you can repurpose it later.

Press record at the beginning of the webinar in order to have a video recording of it. And make sure to save the recording to your desktop once it’s over – some webinar platforms don’t automatically save it.

9. Use a script.

The biggest way I’ve found to minimize webinar stress is to use a script.

In my first webinar, I ad-libbed my lines and ended up fumbling through my lines. In my next webinar, I used a script and was much more at ease.

Kevin is our product manager here at Sovrn. Tell us a little bit about what you do, Kevin.

[Allow panelist to answer.]

With that being said I’m going to hand the mic over to Kevin and let him tell you about the definition of viewability and why it matters for publishers.

It can be stressful to moderate a webinar. But relax! The audience anticipates a few technical snafus, so keep calm and carry on.

10. Have the webinar recording transcribed.

One the webinar is finished, use QuickTime to trim the video. Once you’ve trimmed it, have the recording transcribed by an online service. I’ve used several services but highly recommend Speechpad. Later, you can use the transcription for the description boxes on YouTube, Vimeo and Slideshare, as well as for the blog post that contains the webinar recording.

11. Send out a survey to the webinar participants.

With webinars, it’s important to listen to your audience’s feedback to inform how you will host future webinars. So after the webinar, send out a survey to the webinar participants to hear their feedback.

Some webinar softwares such as GoToWebinar automatically send a follow-up email with a recording and survey to all webinar participants. But if your webinar software isn’t automatic, it’s worth sending out a survey manually.

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