Webinars are worth it. According to a recent report, up to 40% of webinar attendees convert to qualified leads. So while the front-end work may seem daunting, the rewards can be sweet.
We've put together a how-to list on how to build the best webinar possible.
Create a Hookable Webinar Topic
A great webinar starts with an idea—a focused and engaging topic that you know your audience wants to hear about. But more than just generating interest, your topic needs to promise value. Use the main resources available to hone in what topic will resonate with your target group. After that, get creative.
Tap Into Industry Trends
To offer a fresh webinar idea, you can bring a new perspective to a tried-and-true theme—or you can break the mold. Keep abreast of all the major innovations in your field, find an unexplored niche or angle, and explore it.
Schedule a Cross-Departmental Brainstorming Session
Different areas of business hear different things from your customers. Too often client engagement efforts focus on the sales and marketing teams when other teams with client-touch are overlooked. Bring everyone together to discover untapped areas.
Choose a Webinar-Worthy Topic
Should this presentation even be a webinar? Remember, webinars are often lengthy presentations that welcome interaction within very tight parameters. A great webinar topic should be informative, inspiring and useful (i.e. not a huge sales pitch). Does your topic check all those boxes?
Build a Phenomenal Presentation
You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) stand up in front of your advisory board or a conference hall without a polished presentation, so apply the same rules here. A great webinar deserves careful curation.
Select the Right Format
Your topic and audience determine the best format. Choose a style that accomplishes your goal, whether it’s primarily educating your audience, deliver a stellar info-pres from your CEO, or step-by-step through your new product.
Pick a Platform, but Not Any Platform
In our culture of remote engagement, webinars are hot. So you can imagine the flood of companies that have taken advantage of developing excellent webinar platforms. We’re spoilt for choice! But don’t get overwhelmed. Simply assess your basic needs and choose the program to suit. (i.e. Don’t go for a specialist platform on your first go-round.)
Sketch out the presentation flow
Imagine you start an episode of a favorite show, but you don’t recognize the storyline. It feels awkward and you stop it immediately to go back and figure out what you missed. This is the feeling of bad flow. If your audience doesn’t have all the information needed every step of the way, they’re going to feel disrupted or confused. Make sure your information build is logical and presents only the most critical information.
Curate Engaging Content
Have you ever left a webinar after 30 minutes? 15 minutes? 5 minutes? We have. Once you have your audience, keeping them to the end is key to keeping them engaged with your organization. To do that, ask yourself: What is the question your audience is trying to answer every day? Then create the script around answering that. Be sure to choose content that is best explored through the webinar format, and keep its audience focused.
Be Generous (but Discerning) with Graphics
People love data in a visual format. It’s a great way to tackle a lot of not-so-shiny details quickly and efficiently—but don’t go crazy. Graphics can be counterproductive. Charts loaded with heavy data or visuals can distract or confuse, pulling audience attention away from what you’re saying to ask: What the heck is that all about?
Choose your (Text) Words Wisely
Your presenter is going to be talking, yes? Not simply standing there as eye-candy, but delivering an interesting talk? So no need to dictate all those words into textual content. Remember, every moment that your audience is reading, they aren’t listening—at least not fully. Display some helpful keywords and call it golden.
Enrich your Audio
Grainy, indecipherable audio is a killer for any virtual presentation. Remember, you’re keeping textual content to a minimum—so your audience absolutely must hear the speaker. Unfortunately, the most convenient recording options (we’re talking to you Bluetooth earbuds) can produce foggy, inconsistent sound. Get your bearings on how to record great audio
Don’t Just Sell!
Webinars always have a CTA, but whether it’s a hard sell or soft invite is up to you. Sometimes the hard pitch definitely makes sense—but hold off until the end or you’ll disengage your audience.
Prime an Amazing Presenter
Some people are natural presenters, while others need a framework. Whoever is hosting the webinar should first brush up on general skills for being a great presenter—then hone in on this specific format.
Write a Strong—but Flexible—Script
It doesn’t need to be a movie script with offscreen cues, but your webinar script should include some main parts. From a bulleted list to a series of concise notes, create something that you can follow easily and that can be easily modified on the fly. It’s also great etiquette to supply your attendees with a blueprint of your script on your intro slide.
Most webinar platforms will have a practice mode. Use this to record your presentation and then (eek!) watch it. For most people on the planet, watching yourself on video ranges from uncomfortable to horrifying, but it’s the best way to see your nervous body habits and verbal tics or to feel (as the audience would) where the presentation lulls.
Be in Control
This means controlling all the predictable and structured parts of the webinar, such as flow, content, and logistics, as well as the spontaneous parts. A great webinar allows for interactivity, but don’t just throw out an unvetted question and let the audience go. Structure the spontaneous parts by doing some advanced troubleshooting. Write down your question list and look at it through the disaster-lens. Is there a response that could knock the presentation off the rails or set you up for negative feedback? Don’t ask it.
Bring a Facilitator
Make it a team effort! Find a partner that can run audience interaction while you stick to the script. This person could manage the chat space, keep track of questions, monitor a dedicated Q&A, and keep time.
Consider your Audience—Always
You wouldn’t present the same content to employees as you would to client prospects. So first step: know the type of webinar audience you’re talking to and create a friendly registration process. Then fine-tune your presentation by doing the following things:
Modify for Demographic
Field marketers mainly focus on client-facing webinars, so the purpose is lead generation. And with all lead gen, personalization is key. Have a good idea of the specifics of your audience, such as:
- Geographic location
- Cultural etiquette
- Industry trends, needs, and wants
- Their purpose for attending
In general, audience considerations for live presentations will work well for webinars.
Give Them Something to Do...
...but not just for the sake of doing something.
The #1 rule of audience collaboration: Give them a payoff.
Never ask people to take a note, do an exercise, or add a thought if you aren’t going to address or use it within the presentation. That said, there are many excellent collaboration tools that can bring a webinar to life.
Encourage Audience Involvement
Yes, for some webinars, interaction isn’t feasible. But the truth is, asking an audience to contribute automatically spikes attention. Ask questions. Develop an (interesting) audience poll. Get creative. The bonus: This material can shape the presentation in the moment, or be mined later for future marketing efforts.
End with Action
Offer a call-to-action
You did the right thing and saved this for the end (bravo!). Now study up on how to craft a great call-to-action for the style and goal of your presentation. A subtle and savvy CTA will reap great results.
Ask attendees to decide on the next webinar topic
Imagine this: Your webinar was a crowd-pleasing success! What next? End on a high note by bringing your audience into the fold. Don’t be afraid to get honest. Something like: You’ve been such a fantastic audience. I’ve appreciated your thoughts on X,Y, and Z. I’d love to do another webinar on a related topic. I’ve put together a short poll. Please use it to share your opinion of what we should do next.
Survey your attendees
If your audience is too big or undetermined to engage in a direct conversation, but you want to know how they felt about the presentation content, ask them to complete a short and thoughtful survey.
With industry knowledge and great communication skills, field marketers are some of the best webinar hosts around. By following these strategic tips, you’re guaranteed to level-up your next virtual presentation.