How can you create a great webinar?
Most people are well accustomed to online events and webinars but what are the secrets of a great webinar?
Regardless of where we work and what sector we work in, webinars and online events are commonplace. The challenge for those hosting online events now is to make them great, and not ‘just another webinar’, as webinars are now routine it is important attendees are engaged from start to finish. No matter what its purpose, your webinar should be interesting and attendees shouldn’t be become disengaged. Here are some key considerations to create a successful webinar that engages your attendees.
Make sure your attendees feel comfortable
It goes without saying that attendees who feel comfortable and relaxed will have a better experience than those who don’t.
At the beginning of the webinar, introduce your speakers and run through an overview of the content and expected outcomes of the session. Allow your attendees to introduce themselves too so that everyone present knows who they will be speaking to/hearing from. This could be done in the chat, in the content itself, or interactively.
Mix up the format
While not all webinars will require the audience to interact, it’s good practice to include interaction where possible. Interaction between the audience and speakers normally means the discussion is deeper and more beneficial for everyone involved.
Make sure your format is stimulating and create your content so you can mix up the format. A static speaker to attendee one way lecture online can result in attendees switching off and becoming disengaged. Some simple but effective ideas for mixing up the format of your webinar include…
- Interactive polls
- Question and answer sessions
- Panel discussions
- Guest speakers
Ensure your webinar runs seamlessly
It may seem obvious, but the best webinars will run seamlessly with no distractions or interruptions. Choose the right platform for your purpose and make sure that this platform will be able to do the things you need it to.
If you’re presenting a webinar, make sure you are comfortable and located with a clear background. Remove any distractions so that you can focus 100% on presenting your content and check your audio, video and mic settings in good time. Clear down unnecessary open windows on your computer and make sure you’ve undertaken a practice run too where possible. Ensure your face is evenly lit and avoid sitting with a window behind you as this can cause a silhouette (for an in depth how-to guide on the best set-up see here).
Your chosen webinar partner may offer ‘onboarding’ sessions, which are provided to ensure all the above is correct and give you guidance on delivering the best possible presentation. Even if you think you know it all, make sure you take advantage of these sessions – they are free, usually only last 15 minutes and can provide new tools you can take forward and use in all your webinars and meetings.
Although you’d hope your webinar will run without any curve balls, if there is an interruption or problem, have a plan before you start the webinar to deal with this. This way you can handle any disruption calmly and keep the webinar flowing. If you don’t have the time or resource to plan for all the eventualities, then it may be you should choose to look to use a managed service, offered by some platform providers. This means you can focus on the content and delivering a great show, while the tech team ensure everything runs seamlessly.
Generally speaking, the same rules apply for webinar attendees too. Attendees should have some water to hand and any other materials that will be needed during the webinar. Some presenters like to issue a quick reminder at the beginning of the session. This will give attendees a chance to get properly organised before starting the webinar.
Cover off the practicalities
To facilitate a great webinar, communication is key. There will be times when audience participation is required, and times that it is not. Use your webinar platform to make sure that meeting controls are in place and that your attendees know how these will work.
Set up a welcome video, this can be a simple informative video on loop which can welcome attendees as they arrive, include webinar agenda information and sponsor messages.
Chat boxes can be used to ask the audience questions and for the audience to ask the presenter questions. If you’re presenting a webinar, let your audience know how to interact with you, and when. Let them know when you’ll answer questions; either at the end, or as you go, depending on the nature of your content. Moderated Q&A can be used for some more formal sessions, enabling session chairs to pick the most relevant questions to ask the panel.
Let your attendees know if there will be any post event content shared with them and how they will be able to access it. For example, all Q&A’s could be summarised and sent out after the webinar, along with presentation content that was shared during the webinar. In addition the webinar may be recorded and made available for viewing on demand. Letting your attendees know your plan will mean they avoid making unnecessary notes and can increase engagement.
A quick run through of the controls during the introduction is a great way to set yourself up for a smooth webinar. Explain how attendees can unmute themselves and know how to mute your whole audience when required to eliminate distracting background noise.
You may consider having some help to monitor Q&A’s. In some cases, a co-host is very beneficial. They can help ensure that important questions are addressed, and that nothing is missed.
Finally, make sure you start on time! There’s nothing worse than a webinar that is running late!
Need some help setting up or facilitating an engaging webinar? Get in touch with Procreation today and book a demo.
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