For many marketers, webinars prove to be very fruitful, as the tactic can often be a boon for their lead generation efforts. While a number of marketing pros out there are undoubtedly ... well ... pros at holding informative webinars, the truth is there's a hefty amount of work that needs to go into planning them in order to see great benefits.
The lead-up to a webinar requires other facets of inbound to come into play -- everything from getting a speaker to join the webinar, to planning blog and social posts to promote it, to developing the actual topics and focus for the event.
I bet you're asking yourself if there's a checklist of sorts out there that can assist you in your webinar planning. Well, look no further, as below, I've outlined 10 areas you should focus on to ensure you and your team are fully prepared to put on a high-quality, successful webinar.
1) Interact with your audience before the webinar.
I can't stress enough how imperative it is to get your audience excited before the webinar! Tweet to a hashtag for the event, write blog posts promoting it, and ask for people to post their questions or comments beforehand.
Also, if you have some type of giveaway or special feature during the webinar, start the buzz early!
Last year, we gave away a free ticket to INBOUND, our inbound marketing conference, to one person on our webinar who tweeted to the hashtag before, during, and after the webinar. This helped give us something to get the buzz really going around the webinar.
2) Create a kick-ass deck.
To keep an audience engaged for 30 minutes to an hour, you'll need to give them something nice to look at. So, make your slide deck is visually appealing.
Create image-heavy slides that relate to the topic you are discussing. Using copy on slides is fine -- if done correctly. Don't simply write a paragraph on a slide in black and white. Instead, make sure the copy adds to the presentation. Stick to one color palette throughout the webinar deck, and try not to make it too busy.
Take a look here to see what a blase, paragraph-only slide looks like (on the left) and what one with color and images (in other words, one that's got some life to it) looks like (on the right):
3) Use a hashtag dedicated to the webinar.
As mentioned in the first section, you'll want to use a hashtag through the webinar process that is unique to your webinar. Using a lesser-known hashtag will help ensure all tweets with the hashtag are about your webinar.
For example, we used #TwitterQA for our webinar with Twitter in January that was mainly a Q&A with an executive from Twitter.
We use a webinar hashtag well before the webinar to create a community of people with something in common. During the webinar, we use the hashtag to interact with the audience, answer technical questions, and gather questions for the Q&A portion. Finally, after the webinar, we use the hashtag to follow up on any unanswered questions and send additional information.
4) Have one or more awesome speakers.
Nothing is worse on a webinar than a monotone speaker who puts the audience half asleep. Have someone on the webinar who is personable, energetic, and an expert in the topic you plan on discussing.
Additionally, if you have more than one speaker, have them play off of each other, making the webinar a discussion instead of two different monologues.
5) Use speaker and company Twitter handles.
While the webinar is being run by you and your organization, you'll still want to allow your audience to interact with the speaker(s) as well, so be sure to make their Twitter handle(s) known, both in your promotions, as well as throughout the webinar presentation.
Not only does it give a personal touch to your webinars, but also think of all the new followers you could get!
6) Have at least one host or moderator.
Getting one or more speakers to join your webinar can really liven the conversation, but that convo can lose track pretty quickly if no one is assigned to moderate the discussion.
Simply put, a webinar host can help with the flow of the presentation. This person introduces the speakers, asks any questions that come up during the webinar or Q&A, and concludes the event. If any problems arise, this person can address them easily, without causing the speakers to get off-topic.
7) Try out various types of media.
You'll also want to consider a variety of media types for your webinar.
Do you have a short video or animation that will help your demonstrate your point? Does sharing your screen temporarily help get a point across? Would a downloadable checklist help your audience follow along with your discussion? Think about how you can complement your webinar with other forms of media, either during or after the webinar.
Recently, we hosted a webinar with Guy Kawasaki that was 100% screen-sharing. Guy walked us through his daily social media activities, down to how he takes screenshots and posts them on Twitter! Talk about a highly interactive webinar.
8) Perform a thorough sound check.
Even in today's world, technical problems happen with software. Do your best to avoid them when on the air live by testing your webinar platform ahead of time.
For instance, if you're going to be sharing your screen or switching controls, have a pre-webinar dry run where speakers can practice before doing it live. It's always best to find out where mistakes could occur before the actual webinar so you don't waste your time or that of your guest speaker(s).
9) Take other time zones into consideration.
When choosing a time to host your live event, keep in mind that not everyone will be in your time zone. HubSpot is located in Eastern Standard Time, so we try to host webinars at a time that works for other areas around the country and across the globe.
For example, though 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST often works for us, it may not suit our European audience well, so we'll need to find a time that works for both of us.
10) Find a quiet place to talk.
Don't underestimate the importance of the physical location of your webinar. I sit next to a sales team who are on the phone all day. If I tried to host a webinar from my desk, the audience would hardly be able to hear me! Thus, I make sure to find a quiet (sound proof is even better) room elsewhere in the office.
If you have multiple people speaking in the same room, make sure to have a high-quality speakerphone. To avoid any technical problems, I avoid using the wireless internet when at all possible and test everything beforehand!
What other facets of planning for webinars do you focus on to make yours top-notch? Let us know below!