If your potential clients want to see and experience your expertise, for themselves, running webinars is a great way of marketing your firm’s advisory services. If you haven’t run webinars before, here’s 10 tips to make running webinars easier, so they run more smoothly and effectively. Like it, or not, webinars are here to stay, so why not use marketing webinars to attract clients?
10 tips for running webinars
This article considers the actual running of the webinar. You might also like to read ‘why run a webinar‘ and ‘promoting your webinars‘. Running webinars involves similar skills to the presentation skills that you might normally use when presenting to a room of people. However running webinars involves some additional issues created by technology and that you can’t see your audience like when you’re in the room.
1: Use a good webinar platform
There are many webinar platforms around, some will cost very little (or nothing), and some have a monthly fee that reflecting the professional standard of their software and quality of the sound and visuals. Google’s hangouts can do the job for free, a package such as GoToWebinar or WebEx cost around £70 a month for up to 100 delegates (cheaper than hiring a venue). You will get far better quality (audio and visual), and less stressed, if you are using a more professional platform. I’ve found that even paid for platforms vary in their delivery of quality audio, and ease of use, so it’s worth experimenting.
You can also use your investment the rest of the time for other things (e.g. interviewing staff, talking with clients, remote supplier meetings etc).
Key – use a good platform, and practice all of the features before even thinking about marketing your webinars.
2: Location, location, location.
Choose a quiet location. Audio quality remains one of the biggest delegate complaints. Internet access also can affect your audio so check where your’e running webinars from. Always use a headset with microphone, not the inbuilt ones on a laptop as these will give you more feedback. When practicing get somebody to give you feedback on the sound quality from your preferred location, and listen to your recording (yes, I hate doing that too).
Key – Check your location, bad audio destroys delegates confidence in you.
3: A technical assistant
Running webinars with a ‘technical assistant’ will reduce your stress dramatically. It frees you up to focus on delivering great content. Your assistant’s role is to answer text/ chat-box questions from the audience (or passing them to you to answer live), managing any slides, and most importantly remembering to press the record button (your recording is valuable content). The assistant don’t need to be highly technical, but does need to understand how you work and your webinar system.
Tip – Practice with them, so you are confident in each other.
4: Create captivating Content
The webinar content needs to deliver on the promise you made to the audience. It also needs to be easier to listen to that if you were in the room with them. The first step is to have very clear aims for your content, and remove anything that doesn’t deliver them. There are arguments for and against having the whole thing scripted, either way you need a clear plan of what the audience want to know and how you’ll tell them.
If you’re writing a script write a plan before the detailed script. If you’re not using a word for word script you need the plan (with key points and approximate timings) so you stick to the subject. Your webinar has to be interesting and the audience have to know what’s coming up, or they will turn off. So, plan it in advance and practice your presentation skills. Don’t be tempted to “wing it”, you will wander off topic, and miss key points.
Key – Have clear aims, only deliver what meets those aims, plan the content and keep it simple.
5: Case studies capture attention
Using real cases studies, or examples, capture attention and make your point for you. They also demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. I’d use the phrase ‘tell a story’, but you might think I mean make it up! Stories about reality help engage the listener.
Case studies with real data help listeners to engage, and the real life aspect will allow you to give hard facts and data to back up what you’re saying. The fact that you are talking about your own case studies (without mentioning their names), will make it easier for you to talk – as you really know the subject. No, you don’t have to mention the client’s name.
Key – Have a mini case study for each main tip.
6: Get your audience’s attention.
If you don’t grab their attention at the beginning you will never get it, so make your introduction lively and interesting. Don’t have a long rambling introduction where you talk about yourself and your firm, it’s not why the audience are listening. A very short intro with presenter names and a sentence on what qualifies you to deliver is all you need. Then remind the audience of the things they will learn and get into the content.
It’s very easy to sit and listen to a webinar while concentrating on something else, so get them to interact. Without overdoing it, use interactive features like ‘polls‘, and ‘questions‘ to keep them actually interacting. A couple of simple interactive techniques at the beginning can allow latecomers to join without missing anything, get your audience used to interacting and allow your nerves a moment of two to calm down. “Where are you”, “What’s your biggest challenge with xxx” are good for starting. Some of your later polls will be good for interaction, but also can help you gather data about the way your audience think.
Good visual images, that build on your words (e.g. not slides full of words creating death by PowerPoint) will help to keep attention as well.
7: Make it easy to listen to you.
Your voice is the main connection the audience will have with you, check you’re speaking clearly (in your practice sessions) and leave slightly more pauses than you might in face to face conversations. Don’t make the pauses longer than 2-3 seconds, or the audience may think there’s a technical fault!
Aim to have a conversational tone/ style, as if you were having a one to one conversation, this makes it easier to stay listening. Another conversation tip is to use “you“ more than “I“; “I will be sharing” is better as “Today you will learn“.
8: Stop selling.
Don’t waste your time selling, it turns people off and they won’t come back. If you have a 30 minute webinar, with a brief introduction at the beginning, and 10 minutes for Q&A’s, you’ve only got with 15 minutes for content. So you may only be spending 5 minutes on each of your 3 key points.
You may be able to make a content filled offer at the end (to get a copy of the recording…. or a free meeting to discuss how you could implement…), but don’t overdo it and don’t sell before then.
9: Question and answers
The audience will like question and answers. But new listeners can be nervous of asking things, so you may need to prompt them in your emails up front (what questions would you like to ask?) and get them to type questions into the chat boxes as you go. That way can answer the questions as you go, in relevant section of your webinar, rather than all at the end. You may find that after 2 or 3 webinars the audience get to trust you more and will ask more questions.
10: Interview an expert.
Another great way to create content is to ask an expert to co-present with you. Their subject needs to be something interesting to your audience and their style needs to be giving, not selling. This could help with the promotion of the webinar and you could be interviewed by them on one of their webinars (exposing you to a larger audience)
11: Be prepared.(yes, that’s a bonus one)
- Be early. Be on the line 10 to 15 minutes early to make sure that you’re prepared and everything is working.
- Start on-time. Don’t waste people’s time. If you said starts at 1 PM, start at 1 PM. Develop trust and deliver on your promises.
- Turn off gadgets and applications. Focus on your audience, and prevent any distractions by turning off your phone, Twitter, messenger etc.
- Know things can go wrong. However prepared you are, there are things that are out of your hands. I’ve had an internet blackout (Heather, in another location, smoothly carried on), a road repair team start drilling outside (it created a good laugh, when I relaxed) and more. If you’re prepared, you can prevent most problems, and deal with those that are left.
Finally, go on several webinars for different sectors and listen. What works for you? What doesn’t work?