You do not need to be a rocket scientist to host a webinar. All you need is a webinar checklist - and here we are to provide it. To unveil all the steps and tips and tricks we've learned along the way hosting hundreds of marketing webinars over the last 4 years. First we'll start with the basics of how to host your first webinar. For the advanced webinar hosts out there, stay tuned for a future post on more advanced tips.
How to Host Your First Webinar - Part 1: Before the Webinar
Stage 1: Prepare
8 weeks before the webinar
- Choose a Topic – Think about your customers’ problems and questions. These are the same ideas you may brainstorm for blog posts.
- Choose a Speaker – Choose a presenter who can be a face of the company, someone with expertise and experience presenting (or make sure they practice). Consider also acting as a moderator to handle Q&A and make the webinar more interesting for listeners.
- Choose a Date – No one date/time works for every company. Think about your target audience’s time zones and choose a time you think will work for them. For example, for webinars for US attendees choose afternoon eastern time / morning pacific time.
- Choose a Webinar System - For a typical webinar, you likely won't find a better value than GotoWebinar . It's inexpensive and easy-to-use and they even have a 30-day free trial so you can test it out for free for your first webinar.
GotoWebinar Functionality Overview
- Broadcast type: Share desktop
- Audio options: Phone and internet VOIP
- Interactivity: Polls, Q&A via chat
- Recording: Records screen and audio, saves WMV file to computer
- Reporting: View attendee login details, Q&A and poll response details
- Number of attendees supported: 1,000
- Book Your Team - Make sure to get on the calendar of your selected speakers and moderators. Also, reserve a conference room or other quiet room for your event, including 1 hour before your scheduled start time and 30 minutes after the scheduled end. Your room will need, among other things (to be discussed in my next post), a phone and internet connection.
4 weeks before the webinar
- Create You Webinar Slide Deck - Start with an outline and formulate an agenda. Be sure to use images - you don't want people to just sit there reading your slides instead of listening to what you have to say. Then make sure to practice your presentation and gauge the right length for the time allotted. Budget time for Q&A as well! You may also want to have pre-webinar slides at the beginning to show while attendees arrive. ( Learn some really advanced presentation tips here. )
- Create Your Registration Landing Page - This will allow you to collect registrants as leads for future follow up and set them up to get reminder and follow up emails if you integrate your landing page with a system like GotoWebinar. Be sure to follow the usual landing page best practices .
- Set Up Your Event with Your Webinar System - The process will be different for whichever system you use; GotoWebinar has a wizard that lets you set up your event. Set up includes scheduling your event, designating presenters who will get a special login to broadcast their audio and screens, and setting up reminder and follow up emails to automatically go to attendees.
- Practice, Practice, Practice - Practice both your presentation to get comfortable with delivering the content and also the technology to make sure you know how to launch the event.
Stage 2: Promote
2 weeks before the webinar
- Promote via Social Media - Let your social media following know about your webinar. Post an update to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social media site where you are active.
- Promote to Your Email List - Send a webinar invitation to your house email list or an appropriate segment of your leads and customers.
- Promote on Your Website/Blog - Add a call to action to your webinar landing page in prominent places on your website, like your homepage. Write a blog article or two relevant to the webinar topic and include a call to action to register for the webinar to learn more.
- Promote via Free Webinar Listing Sites - There are a number of free sites that let you list webinars, like webinarlistings.com and webinarhero.com . You can also find relevant industry community sites where you can post links to virtual events and webinars.
24 hours before the webinar
- Remind Your Registrants - Some people will register for your event far in advance and forget that it's approaching. Be sure to remind them - you can set up a reminder email to send from a system like GotoWebinar - as you near the event, particularly 24 hours before.
Now watch the registrants roll in!
Up Next: What to Do on the Day of the Webinar
Any other tips or questions on setting up and promoting a webinar?
Flickr photo by rdenubila