I conduct a lot of webinars here at VerticalResponse. From giving product demos to hosting special guests with great advice, I’ve done and seen it all. If you’ve considered creating and hosting your own webinar, or you already have and need some pointers, look no further! Read on as I share 4 tips on how to be the webinar host with the most!
1. Choose a Topic – Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, let’s consider the most important thing – what to talk about? This may seem like a hurdle, but you’d be surprised by what your customers are interested in learning. Think about what your customers should know, or want to know about your business, products or service. What can you do to help them get past any obstacles they may have? What advice or tips would you offer? Do you get frequently asked questions? If you have a service, for example a non-profit, consider conducting a webinar to create awareness, or demonstrate how to use the services you offer. If your organization works with other businesses or software programs, demonstrate how they work together, and maybe consider co-hosting with a partner business.
2. Pick a Tool – Hosting a webinar has become easier, inexpensive and much more accessible over the last few years with just a few tools:
- Hosting system – You’ll need to do some research to see which system best suits your needs and budget. At VerticalResponse, we use GoToWebinar, but there are many others including WebEx, AnyMeeting or InstantPresenter just to name a few. Some offer free trials so you can take them for a test drive, and some are free. And, while free may seem like the best deal, make sure you have access to all the tools you’ll need to conduct and follow up after your webinar. If your phone line cuts out in the middle of a webinar, of if there’s a small limit for the number of attendees you can have, a moderate fee may actually end up saving you stress and headaches. A few things to look for in a webinar hosting system:
- Emails – Does the system send out reminder or follow-up emails, or will you need to do separately? There are pros and cons to each.
- Recording – If you wish to have a recording of the webinar and don’t already have software to record it for you, make sure the hosting company does. If you don’t need a recording, find a system that doesn’t, or a plan that doesn’t include it so you aren’t paying for something you won’t use.
- Platform – Make sure the program runs on your system, the version of the OS you have, your preferred browser and internet connection. Providers list the minimum system requirements on their website, so check that out before you sign up.
- Number of attendees – You’ll want a lot of people to attend your webinar naturally, but most systems charge based on the number of attendees. Think about how many people could show up (generally about 30% of sign-ups will attend) and if the hosting system can accommodate that many. For example, GoToMeeting allows up to 25 attendees but GoToWebinar can allow up to 1,000 depending on the plan.
- Slide deck – For most webinars, you’ll need to create a visually compelling presentation deck. We use PowerPoint at VerticalResponse to create our decks, but there are a slew of other options to jazz up your deck including Google Docs and Sliderocket.
3. Send an Invite – Sending an invitation to your customers, prospects and clients is a must if you want them to register to attend your webinar. Without this step, you may just hear crickets on the other end. Let’s go over a few ways to get the word out and create buzz:
- Email – Create a targeted list for your invitation and send out an email with a link a to register. Include a description of what attendees will learn, any take-ways or incentives for attending.
- Social media – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are easy ways to get the word out and its allows your followers to spread the word to their networks. Potential attendees and word of mouth about your webinar is a win-win.
- Website or Blog – Advertise your webinar on your website or blog. Again, include a blurb about the webinar and a link to help pique interest and get sign ups.
4. Follow-up – Once your webinar is over, follow up! Some webinar hosting services will automatically send out a follow-up email, which is handy, but you’ll want to edit the message to give it your own voice and include a link to the recorded version if there is one. If your service doesn’t send out a follow up email, you can easily create one yourself (and VerticalResponse can certainly help you with that). Simply download a list of all attendees and registrants from the hosting service, then upload to your email service provider and send out a follow up.
Bonus tip – Always log in and set up your webinar early. If you run into any technical issues, you can fix them well before the webinar starts. Plus, most webinar hosting systems let attendees know if the presenter (you) has logged in yet, so an early arrival will make you look good and will ease the minds of your attendees.
With a little planning and some easy-to-use tools, you’ll be webinar pro in no time!
Are you hosting any webinars, or planning to after reading this post? Do you have any tips to add? We’d love hear them in the comments!
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