Webinars: fail to prepare, prepare to fail!


Over the last few years events in the form of webinars and conference calls have grown in popularity as firms can reach a global audience at a fraction of the cost of running an event in person.  However, the standard of such webinars is something that quite frankly on a school report would say “bags of potential but could do better”.

Webinars, if handled properly, allow firms to take a topic and reach a global audience who may otherwise be too busy to venture out of the office.  If recorded webinars also provide an additional resource that can be listened to time after time after the event has passed, 

However, whilst webinars are a fantastic way to cost effectively showcase your firm’s subject matter expertise, all such efforts to gain customer advantage and a good first impression will go down the pan quickly and purely by a lack of proper event housekeeping. 

To make your webinar truly successful there are a number of steps you need to be thinking about  

As an experienced event organiser I’ve seen it all, from presenters unable to unmute themselves, dogs barking away in the background and content provided by speakers that have failed to resonate to the audience.  This check list isn’t intended to teach you to suck eggs, but there may be some points that you hadn’t thought about, especially if you are  new to creating a webinar programme.

Before

1.       Right topic & right speaker: If you are a firm selling into financial services’ companies, try and avoid the SELL SELL SELL mentality.  Delegates are there to learn about a topic that interests them and you want to show yourself as being a thought leader in that field.  There will be plenty of time to link to your website and solutions in post event emails.

2.       Sort out your segments: Before sending to your contact base, do some segmentation to ensure the right contacts receive the relevant webinar invites.

3.       You are cordially invited….: Make it easy for your delegates to sign up to the webinar, maybe with a link to your website with more information.  When listing the speakers, think about linking their names to LinkedIn groups. Put an outlook calendar icon and link to an invite in the email so it can be added automatically to their work calendars

4.       Reaching out to your audience: List your webinar on social media sites and think about advertising on Industry Events Online!

5.       Testing, Testing, 123: Make sure all your speakers are confident in using the webinar software you will be using. Can they mute and unmute when needed? Check all the presentations as some webinar software alters the animation in PowerPoint and renders images oddly!

6.       Tell them once, then tell them again: Send the login details to the webinar at least a week before to those who have registered, then a day before and an hour before.  It’s very easy for people to forget to sign into a webinar, especially if it’s been complimentary.

7.       Planting some seeds: Ask your speakers to put together some seed questions they are happy to answer just in case questions are slow to come on the webinar. 

During

1.       The juggler: The moderator is the key orchestrator to make sure that: all presenters are logged in and in advance of the event; that all delegate lines are muted; introduce speakers; and field questions. Involves quite a lot of multi-tasking!

2.       Be an early bird: Make sure the moderator and speakers dial in 15 minutes early to ensure all lines are working and resolve any technical problems.

3.       Be punctual: Your delegates are busy and don’t want to find the webinar running late or running over.  If you have questions left over then answer them on the event summary.

4.       Holding slide: People will invariably dial in early so make sure there is a holding slide with the title of the webinar and start time.

5.       Tweet Tweet to who: Send the odd tweet during the webinar with an appropriate hashtag to increase awareness.

6.       CPD accreditation: If you can gain accreditation then make sure you announce this before the event and provide certification after the event.  Gaining certification for delegates is an important part of the professionalism and hour long presentations on specific subjects without leaving your desk are quick wins especially as CPD deadlines near. 

After

1.       Pulling it all together: Put together a short summary document which pulls together all the main points covered, link to where the recording of the webinar can be found and where they can download the presentations.  This is a good place to answer any questions that couldn’t be covered in time

2.       Post webinar email: Email all those who registered for the webinar with the summary document and also the contact details of the speaker/speakers. Also email all those on your original contact list with a link to the recording and summary document.

3.       Social Media: Use social media to publish the webinar recording after the event and discuss the key points raised during the webinar.

As initially discussed Webinars are a valuable tool but handled badly can damage your firm’s reputation between fellow industry practitioners so getting it right and delivering it well is essential for delegates and events providers alike.

 

Michelle    By Michelle Parkes, Financial Services Marketing Consultant

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