Webinars serve multiple purposes. In business, webinars can be a valuable tool for solidifying relationships with your clients. Depending on its content, you may even consider hosting a webinar-for-profit. However, even the best content won’t make up for bad hosting.
Even though the audience enjoys the benefit of not spending time and money to travel to a central location, they are still spending time to attend the webinar. If they feel the webinar isn’t worth their time, especially if they paid a registration fee, then they aren’t likely to sign up to attend future events. And if they aren’t planning to attend future events, they probably aren’t going to recommend them to other people either.
Below is a list of practices to help you successfully host your own webinar. Along with advice from friends and associates, these are things that I’ve learned through trial and error when hosting webinars. Some of the items I was able to correct after the first time, but a couple of them took a few attempts before learning what worked best for both my audience and I.
1. Send two reminders.
You should send the first out the day before the event. Then, about an hour or so before your webinar begins send another. Be sure and include information like how to log in, what to do in the event that they’re disconnected in the middle of the event, and contact information where they can reach you in case they have trouble logging into the webinar. Some of the available webinar software might already have such a feature built-in, saving you time and the risk of forgetting.
2. Double check the dial-in number.
Have your co-host or someone else from your team log in and send you a question. This not only lets you know that the number is working, but also lets you know what to expect when time comes for participants to ask you a question during the webinar.
3. Close any unnecessary applications.
This especially applies to instant messaging programs. The last thing you need is for your audience to see personal information between you and someone else. The general rule of thumb is to close out any website or application that you would not have running during an actual board meeting or business conference.
4. Call in at least 10 minutes early.
This lets you greet those who are early to the meeting and lets them know that they arrived at the right location. Some webinar programs only allow a certain number of attendees to take part in a single conference. Calling in early also ensures that the spaces aren’t so filled up by the audience that it leaves them without a host.
5. Make use of pre-welcome slides.
This will also let early attendees know they arrived at the right place and is a great way to communicate introductory information, like how you plan to handle questions during the event.
6. Go through the information at a comfortable pace.
This is where practicing comes in handy. If you practice your event with your co-host or another associate then you will have a better idea about what is a good pace for going through the webinar slides and other information. Moving too quickly could take time to complete on other audience member’s screens, depending on their bandwidth. This is especially important when sharing documents, a feature associated with many of the programs reviewed at www.webconferenceclassroom.com. What is an immediate change on your side of the screen could take up to ten seconds to appear on someone else’s computer, iPad, or smartphone.
7. Make good use of Q&A time.
Often when people are new to information presented in a webinar or other type of conference setting, they are too shy to ask questions. It’s a good idea to have a few FAQ type slides prepared to help get the ball rolling. That way if nobody asks a question, the time set aside to explore the material in your course isn’t sacrificed to dead space. By having a few slides ready, you’re showing your audience that you care enough to anticipate their needs, which in turn will hopefully inspire them to voice their own questions.
8. Send an email immediately after the webinar ends.
Even registrants who don’t attend the live event will probably look forward to viewing a recorded archive, so it’s important to let them know as soon as possible when that information will become available.
9. Send accompanying materials within 24 hours of the event.
This is especially important if you’re asking attendees to participate in something like a follow-up survey, or if this was one in a series of webinars in which homework is assigned. You might also include information such as where they can view other previously recorded events, any fees involved with access to that material, and information regarding webinars you plan to host in the future.
It would be impossible to predict every last detail that can help you host a successful webinar for profit event. The above list acts as a good foundation and helps you avoid some mistakes that plague rookie hosts. This is also true for hosts of webinars. If you never let the audience see you sweat, then they will always be under the impression that you are cool, calm, and in control at all times.
About the author: Using the Internet to communicate with family living halfway around the globe inspired William Barcelon to create Web Conference Classroom, webinar software reviews designed to make it easy for you to choose the right video conferencing software for your home or business. When not working on his latest projects or conducting video conferencing software reviews, Barcelon enjoys studying Qi Gong with his wife Flo, listening to music, and spending time with local family near his home in Woodcroft, a suburb of Blacktown near Sydney, Australia.