How to Execute a Successful Webinar

By Doug Rock  |  December 19, 2014

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This article is part two in a two-part webinar series. Part one, “Making Webinars Work for You,” is available here.

If you’ve read the first article in this series, you should now know the basics of selecting a webinar solution provider, choosing a subject and identifying appropriate speakers. In this article, we’ll focus on executing a successful webinar.

Practice, Practice, Practice…

A webinar practice session should be scheduled two or three days prior to the actual live event. In the practice session, the webinar producer, who will be assigned by your webinar solution provider, will educate your subject matter experts and your moderator on best practices. The subject matter experts and moderator are also known as panelists.

Best practices include closing any unnecessary applications on each of the panelists’ desktops, including any email or instant messaging applications. Panelists will also be advised to turn off their cellphones and limit any ambient noise that could potentially disrupt their presentation.

The producer will also walk the panelists through the various webinar platform tools, including annotation devices, question and answer panels and chat functionality.

Once the panelists are comfortable with the technology platform, the subject matter experts will page through their respective portion of the presentation. The presenters will be asked to make sure all fonts, text spacing, images and page formats are correct. It’s also a good time to practice any transitions that will be taking place during the presentation. This may include the handoff from the moderator to the speaker or speakers, any transitions between speakers and finally the changeover to the question and answer session.

Webinars are generally scheduled for one hour, so it’s also critical to receive an accurate gauge on the length of the presentation during your practice session.

The Day-Of

On the day of your webinar, the panelists should plan to log into the webinar 30 minutes prior to the actual presentation. This prep time allows all presenters an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions, perform sound checks, and insure that their work space is quiet and their computers are working properly for the upcoming presentation.

A few minutes after your scheduled kick-off time, your moderator will initiate the webinar. Keep in mind that your moderator is a facilitator and should not be the webinar’s dominant personality. However, the moderator should carry credibility, be well-known in your industry and have command of the topic at hand.

The moderator will open your event by welcoming your audience. He or she will provide an overview of the subject matter and introduce and the speakers. During the actual presentation, it’s likely that questions will be asked by the audience. These questions are typically delivered by text via a question-and-answer window. We generally recommend that your panelists work in a split screen, with the webinar presentation covering the left two-thirds of the monitor. The right third of the screen is reserved for your internal chat sessions and the question-and-answer windows.

It’s been our experience that saving questions after the conclusion of the presentation works well. Your moderator will manage the audience member questions so that he or she can articulate them to your subject matter experts following the presentation. The average question-and-answer session runs about 10 minutes. We also recommend that you have three or four “seed” questions prepared in advance to kick off the question-and-answer session. This often helps to initiate audience questions and allows your subject matter experts to reiterate the presentation’s key points.

Finally, the moderator will close the webinar by providing phone numbers, email addresses, calls to action and/or URLs. The moderator will also thank the audience for their participation and the speakers for their expertise.

That’s a Wrap

Once the webinar has concluded, all panelists will be brought into a private session for debriefing. Your webinar platform vendor should provide details on the final number of registrants and their contact info. This list of “leads” is generally supplied within one week of the webinar’s completion, along with the list of questions asked by the audience and the corresponding answers.

In our experience, approximately half of those who register for your webinar will attend the actual event. However, some of those who did not attend the “live” event will watch the video recording of the webinar if you make one available. Once the webinar recording has been posted, you can email a link to the video to all who registered for the event.

Webinars are an excellent resource for educating customers and prospects on your products, services or company direction. They can be effective in highlighting your organization’s leadership position in a given field or topic and perform admirably as a lead-generation tactic.

If you decide to initiate a webinar program and you have additional webinar-related questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Best of luck.

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