Start Preparing Early
Preparing a professional talk takes a lot of time, more than many would believe.
As a rule of thumb, half an hour of top-quality, professional content delivered takes about a month’s preparation, considering the slides and other file formats, the script and practice runs, the organizational details for the conference, etc.
If you plan on announcing your one-hour talk about three weeks before the great day, keep in mind you should have already been at work for about a month and currently be over the halfway mark with your preparation before doing so. Either that or, you know, put in a LOT of work in the final weeks (not advisable, as quality tends to drop at very intense work levels).
Make It Visible
The key to your webinar’s success is, at the end of the day, the audience turnout.
Attendees will either pay the entry fee or determine your future visibility (or both), so it’s important to have a large audience.
Focus a part of your team and of your preparation time on identifying and exploiting the correct marketing channels for your event.
In general, social media advertising works well as it is easily sharable and can jump from one person to the next through word of mouth.
Don’t forget your website and landing page though, and make use of alternative channels like livestreaming if possible.
Make the most of the technology at your disposal.
Make It Focused
This depends a lot on the topic of your webinar, but having a clear set of key learning objectives and concentrating on those generally helps focus your talent. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew: if you hold a webinar on social media marketing, don’t go off on a tangent about the history of advertising unless it is absolutely fundamental to the rest of the lesson.
Your audience will follow better and feel more satisfied if they are receiving what they signed up for.
Make It Engaging
Humans have on average a 45 minute attention span. If your webinar lasts one hour, you will already be contending with the audience’s attention by the end of the presentation. If possible, make the webinar top-heavy, with the most complex and fundamental points explored in the first 20 minutes. Don’t exaggerate and become too technical though, or the viewers will lose interest even sooner!
Make It Multimedia
Use the potential of your webinar hosting service to its fullest (you are paying for it after all).
Those highly publicized features like file sharing, live chat and software integration are highly publicized precisely because they enhance the webinar.
If you just focus on a one-way talk through slides you’ll be wasting much of the power your medium of choice could have had.
Make It Interactive
An engaged audience is often a learning audience.
Capitalize on the possibilities of an online conference space.
You can share your screen, upload many different file formats, directly address your viewers in text and video, and ask for their questions at any time. Use this to your advantage.
Insert A Q&A Session…
At the end or throughout the entire lecture (if handled by a moderator), Q&A is key in a presentation or webinar framework.
Even if you have been very thorough in your explanation, there will always be questions about details you haven’t touched on.
Aside from the learning benefits, this is also a great chance to directly interact with your audience and make them feel at home.
…And Make Time For It
One of the most common mistakes when you hold a webinar is not giving yourself enough time.
Sure, the actual presentation may last one hour (to be fair, you’ll probably overshoot even this by some minutes), but if you add the Q&A and any other time-consuming activity before or after the talk, you’ll surely be looking at a much longer duration.
It is good practice to book the room you will hold the webinar from for at least half an hour longer than you would need in theory.
This is fundamental if you want to avoid colleagues barging in while you’re still presenting. More generally, you want to avoid making the audience feel “on the clock” as it gives an unprofessional tone to your webinar and will make them less concentrated on the topic of the conference.
Get Their Number!
If you are holding a webinar, chances are you plan on holding more in the future. This is why having a reliable and easily accessible database of your past attendees is so important.
It’s a safety net, guaranteeing at least a lower bound for the audience turnout in future events.
It’s also a marketing tool: an easily accessible pool of potential viewers which can spread the word about your new talk to be held next month.
For all these reasons, make sure you gain some contact information about attendees, be it through an email list in the registration phase or a fan page on social sites.
Yes, it’s the oldest advice in the world, but hey, it works! If you are genuine and let your personality shine from behind the technical topics, you will be more likable and the audience will remember your talk more.
Just be wary of letting your personality outshine the content you worked so hard on.