One of the most substantial decisions you will have to make for your webinar comes at the very beginning of the entire research and creation process.
Before you even open up any academic papers or start jotting down ideas for slides, you will have to choose your Webinar topic.
It may seem obvious, but this choice is possibly the single greatest determinant of the audience turnout, engagement and success of your webinar, so it should not be made lightly.
For some webinar developers, this is really a non-issue, since they come into the development mindset with a clear topic in mind (typically because it is their own area of experience), so the choice is really already made for them.
This guide is aimed more towards those many other webinar developers which may have some topics they know better than others, but no single area of profound expertise.
For these hosts, the choice is still open, and is very important.
So, how to choose a good webinar topic? The TREC method is typically a good starting place.
It is generally used to outline potentially attractive areas for research, lesson plans and written reports such as newspaper articles or blogs. However, as you will see, the criteria can fit very well in the selection process for webinar topics too.
The idea is to put yourselves in your potential audience’s shoes, and imagine seeing an ad for your presentation.
On average, viewers will be more attracted to topics which are:
Let’s break these four characteristics down and see why you should focus on choosing topics which fall within these guidelines:
If your webinar only focuses on general knowledge which your viewers could have obtained with a cursory Google search, attendees might feel cheated of their time or money by listening to your webinar.
Providing technical knowledge generally solves this, as it shows you put in some effort specifically to research complex areas of understanding and synthesized them for your viewers’ easy consumption- simply by presenting the technical data, you have already done a lot of work for the audience.
Please note that having technical depth does not mean that you should present the webinar in a dry, formal or academic way.
If anything, the audience will be less interested by a technical presentation. The trick is to convey specialist knowledge in an easily understandable, digestible and retainable way.
For some advice on this, take a look at our guide on building a narrative around your webinar.
The relevance of your webinar refers to the extent to which the topic “fits” with your chosen demographic.
If you present a guide for building an online retail website to professionals who already have a job elsewhere, that fit may be less than what you hoped for.
Almost any interesting topic which follows the other 3 guidelines will have a demographic eager to listen to it.
The hard part is pinpointing that demographic, and tailoring your presentation and talk to best fit that audience’s expectations.
Perhaps the least intuitive aspect of TREC, the episodic nature of your topic refers to the possibility to subdivide the macroscopic area you are tackling into smaller “webinar-sized” portions.
Let’s use an example: focusing on social media marketing as a topic will allow your team to split the larger discussion into sub-topics, such as Facebook marketing as opposed to LinkedIn marketing, or into video marketing versuswebpage marketing.
Other topics are much harder to divide into smaller portions, because your viewers would expect you to cover them in a single sitting, due to their smaller size or a very high correlation between their concepts.
Choosing a topic which can be episodic- meaning it is easily divisible- is very important, as it will allow your team to plan multiple webinars ahead, and increase the chances that interested audience members will return for future talks, increasing your visibility further thanks to a fixed core audience.
Finally, your chosen topic should be current.
This means that you should think about what your audience is interested or concerned about right now, and try to either choose a topic directly on their radar, or one which can be stretched to include connections to current issues and interests of your viewers.
This is a fundamental aspect in terms of visibility, as topics which promise to solve a problem individuals already have are much more worthwhile to listen to (in the viewers’ eyes) than those solving issues they have had in the past, might have in the future or which are only tangentially related to their field of interest.