When preparing your webinar, use these guidelines:
- Content presentation should be a maximum of 30-45 minutes in length.
- Allow 10-15 minutes at the end for a Q&A with participants.
- Prepare compelling slides for your presentation.
- Utilize interactive web conferencing features to keep your participants involved.
Prepare a PowerPoint slide show to accompany your presentation. Remember that participants will be looking at your slides for 30-45 minutes so keep them varied and interesting. Place your organization’s logo in the corner of each slide but don’t make it overly prominent. You can hype your organization and its products or services again at the end of the webinar. Don’t make your slides too text heavy, and use a variety of graphs, clip art, and photographs to vary the look of your slides and to make them colorful and interesting.
Prepare to Keep Your Attendees Engaged
Speak to your web conferencing provider to learn ways in which you can make your presentation more interactive. Such features as polling, chatting, surveys, and question & answer sessions can help to keep participants engaged and focused on your program. Studies show that if a program is not engaging and interactive, participants are very likely to begin other activities such as checking email or surfing the Internet while attending. Unfortunately by the time they click away from your webinar, you have most likely lost their attention for good.
Best Days and Times for Webinars
So, you have prepared your program. Now how do you go about generating registrations? Successful webinars are planned with at least eight weeks of lead-time, more if the event is complex or you are new to the process. The best days of the week to hold your webinar are generally Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and the best time for a national audience is between 12:00 and 2:00 EST. Select the date and time for your webinar at least four to six weeks in advance.
Invitation Lead Lists
Next you will need a list of prospects to invite. Plan to acquire a large email list of prospects if you do not already have one. Studies prove that by far the best way to get webinar registrants is through email invitations. Newsletters, web banners, links on websites, and press releases are not quite as effective at generating webinar registration. How many emails will you need to send? Studies show that you can expect between .5% and 1% of invitees to register, and you can expect only 30-50% of those registrants to actually attend. So, if you would like to have 100 attendees at your event, you should plan to invite approximately 25,000 to the webinar.
Utilize Online Registration
To effectively use emails to invite prospects to your webinar you will need an online registration tool. Look for a service that facilitates invitations, registration, confirmation emails, and survey capabilities. It is recommended that the invitation emails go out three weeks prior to the date of the actual webinar. Never send out your invitations more than four weeks prior to the event date. Use the pre-survey capability in your registration tool to ask your registrants questions that will help you better plan the content of your event, and gauge their possible interest in your product or service. Utilize the email reminders in the registration tool to help keep the event on your registrants’ radar. Remember to include a link to any compatibility or system checks required by your web conferencing platform in an email to your registrants prior to the actual event. You don’t want your attendees to encounter difficulties logging into your event. It is also very helpful to have someone in your organization personally call the registrants the day of the event to remind them to attend. Use the post-survey capability to conduct follow-up to your event.
Your invitations have gone out and hopefully you are receiving registrations. Your presentation is prepared. Are you done? No. Rehearse your presentation numerous times and schedule a full dry run of your event with your web conferencing provider to be sure you are completely comfortable with the web conferencing platform. Prepare for the question & answer portion of your event and “plant” several questions with people that will be attending the webinar. Participants generally feel more comfortable participating in the question & answer session once questions have begun. There is nothing more awkward and uncomfortable than a webinar session with no questions!
After the Event…Follow Up!
After your webinar, immediate follow-up is critical. Lack of follow-up can doom an otherwise effective webinar. Acknowledge all registrants by email immediately following the event. For those who attended, send a “thank you for attending” email, and instructions on how to access the archive of the event. For those who registered but didn’t attend, send them a “sorry we missed you” email and if possible, include a link to the archived event in the email so they can participate on their own time. Utilize the post-survey feature of your online registration product to gain valuable feedback from participants.