How to host a webinar is a topic that a lot of people are interested in, as webinars had solidified their place in the digital market area.
While it may seem that creating a webinar and hosting a webinar is the same thing, it is not so. In my previous post, I discussed how to create a webinar – where I cover how to prepare everything for your webinar to go smoothly.
In this “how to host a webinar post”, I will focus on how to engage your audience, make sure that you are speaking to the target audience in the right way, and all in all – how to make sure that you have a successful webinar.
Plan in advance
Failing to plan = planning to fail. Goes without saying (and it was covered in my How to create a webinar post) – everything has to be prepared in advance.
Do not leave anything to chance, as if something can go wrong – it will go wrong. Equipment, presentations, and potential backups equipment – should all be ready.
Goes without saying that when you reach this point you should already implement all the marketing strategies to promote your webinar and your webinar platform should already be picked and tested.
Have a plan B
Webcam can stop working, a microphone can give out and other things can happen. You can not plan for all of them, but you should have some basic plan B drawn out if anything would go wrong.
If you are not sure about your internet connection, have somebody who can take over the presentation if you get suddenly disconnected.
Or maybe your microphone had already given up a couple of times in the past, in that case – have another one handy.
Consider having a backup webcam that you can switch to in case your main cam will stop working.
While you may not worry about these problems when you are running a webinar every second day for small groups and it can easily be rescheduled or postponed – with big webinars things are different.
Imagine that you have 200 participants on your registration list. Hosting such a huge audience requires a number of safety measures, so make sure to minimalize the potential risks.
Consider a Co-Host
Depending on the focus of your webinar, you may consider a co-host. Given that webinars are online events, you can invite anybody from anywhere.
A strong name that is well known in your niche, will help with marketing, promotion on social media and will create a richer experience for your audience, making your event stand out.
It can be a guest, and a webinar would be in a format of a debate. Or it can be an actual co-host who will have their own part of the webinar presentation.
Additionally, you can combine your social media followers and cross-promote the event. Therefore getting your webinars in front of a wider audience and getting more registrations.
Run a test webinar
Do not think that things go as planned during a live webinar. You want your presentation to be perfect, and your prospects need to know that you know what you are talking about.
Even if you are an outstanding professional, a lack of proper marketing and presentation of your thoughts may result in a weak experience for the viewers and lower the registration rates on your call to the action part.
Run a couple of test webinars with your team. This way you will make sure that all the tools, webinar software, camera, microphone, etc. are working as they should – to prevent any unwanted surprises.
Practice makes perfect.
Watch your recordings
Record your test webinar and pay attention to how you look on camera. You might be surprised to discover that there are some movements, pauses, or faces that you are making that just look weird.
If you are not aware of them you will not be able to correct them, by rewatching your recordings you will be able to identify mistakes that you are making and work on them.
Another thing that you can gather from watching your recorded webinar is how you and your surrounding actually look. Lighting plays a major role and can make or break the quality of your video appearance.
Your background also plays an important role. The goal is to give your audience the best experience and make sure that you engage them in the presentation, so any disruptive elements in the background must go.
Sit or stand?
To stand or not stand, that is the question. This will depend on the format of your webinar and your presenting style.
If you will be going through a presentation where the slides are the focus on the webinar, you may consider sitting down for the duration of the webinar.
But if your camera is set up in a way where you are the focus of the webinar and there are slides running in the background, just as a form of a “storyline” – definitely stand.
Presenting while standing allows you to engage your audience more as you can use your posture, hands, and all in all, seem more lively and energetic.
Pick the right date and time
The event would be hosted at a date and time that will allow a maximum number of attendees. If your audience is located mostly in the USA, you should schedule a different time than if they are located in the UK. Time zones matter.
In case you have attendees from all over the world, try to choose a webinar time that will allow most of them to participate. You should also consider allowing those in the time zones that won’t catch the live event to be able to access the recorded webinar for free.
Use Google Analytics to discover what parts of the world the majority of my traffic is coming from. You can also create surveys for potential guests asking for the most convenient times for their participation in a webinar.
Stick to a schedule
When you schedule a webinar, apart from reminder emails you will be also sending your participants a time plan. When will you start, when will you finish, the breaks that will be in the webinar, and so on.
Stick to that schedule. Many of the participants will be planning their day around it, so be respectful to their time.
Stay on topic
The subject matter is important to your audience. After all the registrations and reminder emails, they came to your webinar to hear more about the webinar topic that you promoted. This is when a presentation or a script can come in handy.
You have to convert the subject in the time and adhering to the schedule that you created for this event so make sure not to dig too deep into tips that are not relevant and getting sidetracked too much
Have a chat moderator
You might want to consider having a chat moderator in your webinar. The bigger the event and more attendees are on it – the bigger need for a dedicated person to monitor the good question and possibly even ban some people who will behave inappropriately.
If you have an hour-long webinar, you will get a lot of questions and it is very easy to forget that they were asked, so having somebody to mark down important questions so you can get back to them later is needed.
A good webinar platform will allow you to manage the chat as needed, you just need somebody to make that final decision so you can concentrate on the live presentation to keep your audience’s attention.
Keep attendees engaged
Nothing will make the people tune out faster than a rambling presenter. Stay on point and avoid using filler sounds and words “uh, like, so” (and other) to engage your audience. It is better to speak slower and make small pauses between the words than to fill the silence while you are formulating your thoughts (more about this in the next section).
Ask attendees to use chat and ask questions, interact with your audience if you feel that it will help the flow of the webinar. But do not get sidetracked too much, while you can pick up one or two questions that may help you to expand the topic that you talking about now – do not start to react to everything that is in the chat.
Control your speech
If you speak too quickly, non-native speakers or just people who will not hear you properly may get lost in what you are saying and you will not get your message across.
Make sure that you are speaking with a good tempo, roughly the one as when you would have to read this out loud “and, one, and, two, and, three”.
But you also should not speak too slowly, it will make the webinar boring and the attendees will not be engaged.
From time to time, change the speed and the tone of your voice to emphasize important parts of your message.
Call to action
Webinar topic, webinar content, marketing – you do this all as you have an end goal in mind. There is a particular action that you want your attendees to take. It might be returning a project, making sure that they retained a piece of important information, buying your product, leaving their email,m registering for another online event, etc.
All webinars are done with such a goal in mind.
When the time comes, have a clear call to action asking your attendees to make that action right now, or in the worst case after your webinar ends.
Answer questions later
No matter the number of attendees that are on your webinar, you might want to answer the questions at the end of your live webinar.
First of all – your presentation may already include the answer, and replying to the question separately would be counterproductive to the flow of your webinars.
Also, if you will constantly answering questions from your audience you might not be able to cover the
Follow up with the attendees
Many marketers don’t follow up with participants of their webinars. Send a thank-you email along with a survey about their experience asking for feedback and ratings.
This is also a good opportunity to run a couple of polls to get as much information as possible to make your future webinars even more successful.
But that does not end there. This is another opportunity to ask your audience to do something for you:
- registration for a trial;
- send them to your website;
- ask them to buy your software;
- asking for tips for other webinars that you plan;
- you can promote future webinars and events;
- record the event and send them a link to it;
As you can see, this is an additional sales opportunity.
Promote your webinar again
There are many ways how you can improve your brand awareness through the marketing of your live event – even after it ended.
First of all, you would of course record your webinar and make that recording available for those who did not make it in time.
But there is also a lot of video content that can be created from that webinar and shared on social media.
You could also rewrite a part of your webinar into a blog post and market it further on your website. For example, you could write down the main tips from your webinar to get more people interested in the whole content.
Or, you can also create a separate landing page and offer new prospects to view the recorded content – again boosting sales (or other goals that you may have).
How to host a webinar for free?
If you are wondering if you have enough resources to afford one of the webinar platforms, free webinar software is here for you.
Some have a free trial that you can take advantage of or free packages that are limited by the number of attendees that participate.
This will allow you to test the format of your events without significant investment and practice before you go live with a bigger number of participants.
Creating and hosting a webinar is a fantastic way to get new prospects or expand your business in other ways.
You can expand your marketing strategies, work with your audience in a different way, recycle the webinar into a youtube video, recording of the online event, or a blog post – to make sure that you get the advantages of a webinar presentation.
With the use of a webinar platform, you can create an event that will leverage all the previous sales and marketing activities that you did before
How do I host my first webinar?
Can I host a webinar for free?
Yes. There is plenty of free webinar software that will get you started.
How do you host a webinar effectively?
Prepare everything in advance, have a clear goal in mind, and run a couple of testing webinars to make sure that everything is in order.