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How to Host Your First Webinar

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How to Host Your First Webinar

Before the Webinar

Prepare

8 weeks before the webinar

  • Choose a Topic – Think about your customers’ problems and questions. These are the same ideas you may brainstorm for blog posts.
  • Choose a Speaker – Choose a presenter who can be a face of the company, someone with expertise and experience presenting (or make sure they practice). Consider also acting as a moderator to handle Q&A and make the webinar more interesting for listeners.
  • Choose a Date – No one date/time works for every company. Think about your target audience’s time zones and choose a time you think will work for them. For example, for webinars for US attendees choose afternoon eastern time / morning pacific time.
  • Choose a Webinar System – For a typical webinar, you likely won’t find a better value than GotoWebinar. It’s inexpensive and easy-to-use and they even have a 30-day free trial so you can test it out for free for your first webinar.

GotoWebinar Functionality Overview

1. Broadcast type: Share desktop
2. Audio options: Phone and internet VOIP
3. Interactivity: Polls, Q&A via chat
4. Recording: Records screen and audio, saves WMV file to computer
5. Reporting: View attendee login details, Q&A and poll response details
6. Number of attendees supported: 1,000

* Book Your Team – Make sure to get on the calendar of your selected speakers and moderators. Also, reserve a conference room or other quiet room for your event, including 1 hour before your scheduled start time and 30 minutes after the scheduled end. Your room will need, among other things (to be discussed in my next post), a phone and internet connection.

4 weeks before the webinar

  • Create You Webinar Slide Deck – Start with an outline and formulate an agenda. Be sure to use images – you don’t want people to just sit there reading your slides instead of listening to what you have to say. Then make sure to practice your presentation and gauge the right length for the time allotted. Budget time for Q&A as well! You may also want to have pre-webinar slides at the beginning to show while attendees arrive. (Learn some really advanced presentation tips here.)
  • Create Your Registration Landing Page – This will allow you to collect registrants as leads for future follow up and set them up to get reminder and follow up emails if you integrate your landing page with a system like GotoWebinar. Be sure to follow the usual landing page best practices.
  • Set Up Your Event with Your Webinar System – The process will be different for whichever system you use; GotoWebinar has a wizard that lets you set up your event. Set up includes scheduling your event, designating presenters who will get a special login to broadcast their audio and screens, and setting up reminder and follow up emails to automatically go to attendees.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice – Practice both your presentation to get comfortable with delivering the content and also the technology to make sure you know how to launch the event.

Promote

2 weeks before the webinar

  • Promote via Social Media – Let your social media following know about your webinar. Post an update to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social media site where you are active.
  • Promote to Your Email List – Send a webinar invitation to your house email list or an appropriate segment of your leads and customers.
  • Promote on Your Website/Blog – Add a call to action to your webinar landing page in prominent places on your website, like your homepage. Write a blog article or two relevant to the webinar topic and include a call to action to register for the webinar to learn more.
  • Promote via Free Webinar Listing Sites – There are a number of free sites that let you list webinars, like webinarlistings.com and webinarhero.com. You can also find relevant industry community sites where you can post links to virtual events and webinars.

24 hours before the webinar

  • Remind Your Registrants – Some people will register for your event far in advance and forget that it’s approaching. Be sure to remind them – you can set up a reminder email to send from a system like GotoWebinar – as you near the event, particularly 24 hours before.

Execute

1 hour before the webinar

  • Remind Your Registrants – It’s that time again, time to remind your registrants that it’s almost time for your wonderful webinar! Again, this email can be scheduled ahead of time using a system like GotoWebinar.
  • Setup Your Webinar Room – Use the Webinar Room Requirements List below to get everything – and everyone – in your reserved room.
  • Log into the Webinar – Your presenter should be logged in and sharing his/her screen. Make sure your presenter closes any unnecessary and distracting applications like email and instant messenger. You also should turn off or remove any cell phones as they can cause interference. The moderator should be logged in and able to moderate the Q&A. And, finally, use your mock attendee computer to log in as a normal attendee would and use the headphones to hear the audio from the event. The mock attendee computer will help you catch any issues as soon as they happen.

Webinar Room Requirements List

1. Presenter’s computer plugged into a/c power and Internet (wired is better than wireless).
2. Moderator’s computer plugged into a/c power and Internet (wired is better than wireless).
3. Mock attendee’s computer plugged into a/c power and Internet, with headphones.
4. Phone (not a cell phone) to deliver speaker audio.
5. Water or other drinks for speakers – you’ll get thirsty!
6. “Webinar in Progress” sign for the door – not only will you feel official, but people will be less likely to interrupt your live event.

2 minutes after webinar start time

  • Start the Webinar – You typically don’t want to start right on the dot of your start time. That’s because many people will try to arrive right at that time and you don’t want a majority of your audience to come in mid-introductions.
  • Review Housekeeping Items – No, I don’t mean how to fold the corners of your bed sheets. Housekeeping items for a webinar include how the audience can interact with you (Are you doing Q&A? Will you answer questions live or via chat?) and if attendees will get the slides and/or video recording after the event is over.
  • Record – If you’re planning on recording your presentation (most webinar systems let you do this), remember to hit that record button!
  • Present – Present your wonderful content and cap off the presentation with some live Q&A and thanks to the audience.

1 minute after the webinar

  • End the Webinar – Log out of the webinar and end the event for the attendees. Make sure you’ve hung up the phone before you start talking about how the presentation went!

Measure & Next Steps

24 hours after the webinar

  • Post Your Webinar Slides and Recording Online – If you offered this to your attendees, create a page on your website where people can view and/or download the slides and video from your presentation. As a bonus, I recommend posting your slides (we usually do so in PDF format rather than PPT) to a slide sharing site like SlideShare. In addition to spreading your content further, SlideShare has an embeddable slide viewer that you can post on your own website.
  • Follow Up with Registrants with the Slides and Recording – Now tell your registrants where they can go to view and/or download the slides and recording you just posted.
  • Measure Your Webinar Statistics – How do you know if your event was a success? Measure a few key metrics for each webinar you host, including number of registrants, what percentage of registrants attend (40% is the industry average), conversion rate on your registration landing page, and of course how many new leads and customers you generated from this event.
  • Make it Evergreen – Your live event may be over, but that content can continue to serve as a lead generating tool. Some ideas to make your content “evergreen” are to create a landing page to download the archived presentation, and write a follow up blog post to drive additional interest to your archived download.

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