15 Webinar lessons I learned from my first attempt
The most crucial webinar lessons I’ve learned from my first webinar is that you have the opportunity to deliver a personal and relevant message to people who want to listen.
A webinar provides you with the chance to interact with people that choose to listen to you. They permitted you to speak up, to be successful or to fail, and to use your own words. Don’t pretend.
In return, your audience is paying you with something precious, their time and attention. If you waste your audience’s time, you will lose hard-earned devotion. In our noisy world, time and attention is something to be valued and not to be taken for granted.
Thus, you do have a responsibility. The same kind of responsibility that my service providers have to deliver the service to which I subscribed.
Therefore, take these webinar lessons to your heart. There is no shortcut. Figure out what the message is you want to convey, create a story around it. Be sincere and tell it with purpose.
Here are my webinar lessons
1 - Set an objective and ways to measure it
One of the main drivers of webinars is the remarkably low cost of grabbing the attention of those who want to hear from you. Hence, you need to focus, set an objective, decide what results you need to achieve and how you will measure your success.
From the start, be clear on your target audience, the message you want to covey, the reason for conducting a webinar, and define the growth parameter you want to achieve.
These webinar lessons are maybe more than a mere recommendation. Defining objectives and ways to measure your progress is a generally sound principle for most of the things we set out to achieve.
2 - Select a catchy topic and title
Your topic should catch the intended audience’s attention. It should be clear. And, there are different ways to do it. Try to state it in a question, a challenging statement, or focus on the benefit to listen. Or you can phrase it with an analogy, like “Learn how to build satellites the Henry Ford way“.
One of the most critical webinar lessons, don’t grab your audience’s attention with false pretensions. Through your topic and title, you do make a promise to delight the listener. Don’t break the deal.
3 - Plan the flow of your presentation
A webinar is nothing more than a platform to present your own or your company’s view and offerings. The essential part is how you use this platform. And, there’s no better way to do this than using storytelling techniques. Storytelling is maybe one of the most crucial webinar lessons.
It is about establishing a connection and delivering substance. More importantly, it is the ability to understand and solve real-world problems. To show the benefits and advantages of why the audience should listen to you.
Remember, the webinar is not about you. So, don’t create a narrative around your ego. Instead, use it as an opportunity to build trust. Preferably, try to create hype by making a story worth sharing. Last but not least, make sure your exchange of information will make the listener take the intended action.
Getting and keeping a listener’s attention is not easy. Even more so, motivating them to take action is even harder. Therefore, I recommend using storytelling techniques. This advice is more than just a webinar lesson; it is good practice.
4 - Remember the gold rule: Preparation
Some may believe that delivering the presentation is the essential part. The fact is, your delivery is a function of the amount of preparation—the more you prepare, the better the delivery.
The rule of thumb is to budget for about one hour of preparation for each slide you present. For me, that is the minimum. It can even go up to about an hour of planning, research, slide design and training per minute of delivery.
The bottom line is, prepare and practice as much as possible. This webinar lesson advice won’t disappoint you. For example, Steve Jobs internalized every slide. He thought about what every line meant to him and the audience. He worked hard on his pace and using his voice to set the rhythm.
5 - Make it look professional
Your slide deck must be appealing. Here I usually try to go the extra mile. If you are not a good slide designer, get help. It is all about you and your company’s brand. There are a lot of ugly webinars out there. So, make sure that yours doesn’t fall in that category.
There are several webinar lessons but well-crafted slides will send a positive message to the audience. My advice is to avoid stock photos, use infographic style layouts and minimize your content. White spaces are your friend on a slide. Use it to your advantage.
6 - Content is everything
Your content must match your topic and connect with the intended audience. This webinar lesson tip is all about identifying and understanding the needs of your target audience. The content must resonate with the listener’s current state and relationship towards your offering.
At the end of the webinar, you want your audience to take action. Therefore, you need to craft your presentation around their business goals, challenges, concerns, needs and objectives. Hence, don’t make it all about your product. Focus on the specific audience’s needs.
As proof, use case studies. Show evidence and discuss success stories. Even try to bring in a customer testimonial. Also, try to anticipate and address possible objections a prospective client may have from working with you. Tell them what they can expect from you and what makes you different.
In the end, remember a call to action.
7 - Decide on the delivery platform and software
There are many webinar platforms available. They vary in pricing, capabilities and features. Selecting a platform that will work for you can be a daunting task. I do recommend that you consult your IT department to assist you with the decision. The best place to start is with online reviews.
The takeaway from these webinar lessons is that you and your audience want a great experience. Try to mitigate all the technical risks, audio quality, bandwidth requirements, video quality, sharing and onboarding with hyperlinks.
8 - Use a producer to assist in the background
As the presenter, you must focus on the content, slides, storyline and the actual telling, for everything else you should get assistance. The assistance must be in the form of a producer. Somebody that assists you when you go live. The producer’s task is to make sure the correct action happens at the right moment. And, the producer performs the switching between video, slides, polls, and assists with Q&As.
A nice touch is to use the producer as a moderator as well — a person who can introduce you at the start and facilitate the Q&A session at the end.
NB: makes sure your webinar platform supports a producer function.
9 - Schedule an appropriate time zone
The great thing about webinars is that anybody in the world, with an internet connection, can dial in. A good time for you may not be appropriate for others. Imagine your target audience lives in Japan, India, Europe and the different time zones of the USA.
It may be challenging satisfying everybody. Therefore, you must make a decision that will be appropriate for your goals and objectives. There are some great tools to assist you with this decision. Also, don’t get sleepless nights over people missing out on your webinar, as most software platforms allow you to record and share the webinar.
10 - Give attendees time to sign in
One thing we’ve noticed is that everybody is not on time. Your attendees are human, with busy schedules. And they may have finger trouble getting online. You will see that attendance will peak a few minutes after your scheduled starting time.
My recommendation is to have a welcome slide, with a “we will start soon” message. Then, if you are scheduled to start at a specific time, wait two minutes before you go live. Use another few minutes to welcome everybody. In this way, you will make sure that people don’t miss the start of your content.
11 - Remember, there is an audience
The worst thing you can do is to forget about your audience. Although the audience is far away and very difficult to interact with, it is still possible. Ask questions, encourage feedback, conduct a live poll, and answer questions. A good webinar lesson tip: the more interactive you can make it, the more memorable the presentation will be. While speaking, imagine the audience in front of you.
12 - Allow for a Q&A session
At the start, inform your audience about the Q&A at the end or during the webinar. Tell them clearly how it will work. Try to encourage questions during the talk. You want the webinar to be a two-way communication session.
A lesson I learned during my first webinar is to have questions ready. And, get your moderator to ask the questions. Sitting in silence while waiting for questions to answer is not ideal. You can even shape the questions in such a way that it will strengthen your message.
13 - Promote, promote, promote
You are putting a lot of effort into your webinar; therefore, you need to notify the world about it. Create beautiful graphics and use your various social media platforms to inform your target audience. Notify your contacts through an email marketing service. You can even put a link in your email signature. Use industry forums.
Peoples schedule are full. An important webinar lesson tip is to start as early as possible with your promotion. Use a signup form that will automatically email meeting request for the webinar. In this way, you can make sure you are in your target’s diary.
14 - Follow-up with your audience
The whole idea of a webinar is to generate leads. The fact that people sign up shows that they are serious about learning more about you and your brand. With the signup, they do give you permission to follow-up.
Create a follow-up plan. A webinar lesson tip is to start with the follow-up during the webinar by telling your audience how you will get in touch. Remember, move quick and decisive. Make the most of the opportunity.
15 - Have an internal review
My first webinar was a real learning curve. For me, a great webinar lesson tip is to make time to sit down and reflect on the experience. Review your objectives for the webinar and the results achieved. You can only improve if you make time to learn.
Bottom line: The best shortcut to a great webinar is no shortcut at all. Your reputation is on the line, so please, don’t just show up.
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