Webinars are more popular than ever, thanks to restrictions on in-person social gatherings. You may be planning on hosting a webinar for your own business or as an employee. Whatever the reason for your business webinar, there are some things you can do to ensure that it’s a success. Success would mean that you looked professional while hosting the webinar, that the webinar itself went off without a hitch and that others found the content useful. Here’s how to make that happen.
Do a Dry Run
If this is your first business webinar, do a dry run of the entire webinar, using a friend, spouse or colleague as the remote participant. Do the dry run from start to finish, including the initial invitation, asking and answering live questions and signing off. A lot of things can go wrong, from poor sound quality to a malfunctioning webinar hosting platform, to just losing your own focus or getting nervous. A dry run ensures that you work out the kinks in private before presenting yourself in public. Also, if the webinar platform turns out to be buggy, you’ll have time to choose a new webinar platform provider.
Choose A Good Location
Your own location during the webinar is very important. You want to look for the following when choosing the location from where you’ll host the webinar:
- Sound not too echoey (no empty basements)
- Good internet connection (preferably wired)
- Sound not muffled (no closets)
- No chance of being interrupted by family, kids, etc. (behind a locked door or in a private office)
- Desk space for all your materials (including drinking water for yourself)
- Professional background if you will appear during the webinar (no unmade beds or kids’ toys in the background)
Offer a Q and A Session
About halfway through your webinar, or at the very end, offer a Q and A session. If you hold a Q and A halfway through, it will serve to break up the time, reinvigorate your audience and possibly help steer the focus of the remaining half. If you hold the Q and A at the end of the webinar, it will allow those who don’t have questions to drop out, and you’ll know who’s really interested by those who remain. If you’re hosting your webinar as a way to garner business leads, having the Q and A at the end is a better choice.
Be Conscious of Time Constraints
Remember that even if you have a lot of things to cover in your business webinar, you shouldn’t try to cram everything into one session. Your viewers only have a certain amount of time to devote to your webinar. The longer your webinar is, the fewer viewers you’ll have, simply because people don’t have a lot of spare time. Few people want to participate in a three-hour webinar. The best length of time for a webinar is an hour or less. If you have to run an hour and a half it’s okay, but your content had better be worth the extra time. If you have too much content to cover in an hour, consider splitting it up into multiple webinar sessions. Remember to include extra time for a Q and A session in addition to the standard hour.
People love stories. Stories can help drive your point, add a humorous note, lighten the mood or help participants get a better sense of who you are. Sprinkle in plenty of anecdotes in your webinar content. They don’t have to be long-winded. Shorter anecdotes are better, since you always do want to be aware of how much time you’re using up. The anecdotes can be from your own experience or from a story you’ve heard. It doesn’t matter where they come from; only that they are somehow relevant to your webinar content.
Avoid “Math” Slides
Many people use slides for their webinars. This is great, because it gives participants something to look at as you’re speaking. Slides can also help participants to grasp what you’re explaining. But unless your webinar is specifically math-focused, avoid “math” slides. Math slides are ones with multiple equations or lots of numbers, trying to convey some sense of urgency or importance to a piece of content. For the average person, heavy math slides can be intimidating or even boring. Instead, convert any math you need to communicate into attractive graphs and charts. Use vivid colors in your charts and graphs to help grab your participants’ attention.
Modulate Your Voice
Even the most fascinating content can be rendered boring if it’s narrated by a flat voice that rarely varies from one tone. Try to modulate your voice so the tone goes up and down in appropriate places. Smile when speaking – your participants will “hear” the smile. The more interesting your speaking voice is, the more interesting your content will sound. If you’re unsure if you’re modulating your voice enough, record yourself speaking some of your webinar content and play it back for a friend to get their reaction.
Review Your Content and Cut the Fluff
Lastly, you want to ensure that your content is useful and that participants leave feeling that their time was spent in a valuable way. One way to make sure of that is to carefully review what you’re going to say and cut out any fluff. Fluff is extra content that is extraneous to the point. For instance, giving excess examples when one will do, re-stating the same thing numerous times or spending lots of time explaining something that’s common knowledge. The more streamlined your content, the less time it will take and the more value your participants will get in return for their time.
Hosting a business webinar for the first time can feel a little scary. But once you get through your first one, you might find that you really enjoy it and want to make it a regular event. These tips will help to ensure every business webinar you host is a resounding success.