A webinar can be a powerful marketing tool if executed correctly. It’s a way to get your message out to a targeted audience and capture valuable leads or just disseminate information. In this quick guide, we’ll go over the main steps and best practices that you’ll need to follow to plan a webinar successfully.
What Is a Webinar?
A webinar is an online event that is usually created for educational or commercial purposes such as conferences, product presentations or academic courses. While they’re mostly live events, they might also be taped and archived for people who cannot attend at the time it is broadcast. It is viewed on internet-connected devices, such as smartphones, laptops, computers, etc. In most cases, webinars start with a presentation of some kind and a Q&A session follows.
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How to Plan a Webinar Step-By-Step
Webinars are projects and therefore, they require thorough project planning. By following these eight steps you ensure that everything is accounted for and set up your webinar for success.
1. Set Goals and Objectives for Your Webinar
Clearly define what the goals and objectives for your webinar are in order to ensure the content you’re delivering is aligned with those goals and objectives.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
For the webinar to be successful, you first have to attract those who you want to reach, whether to sell them something or educate them in some way. Therefore, you need to research who your audience is and what is the best way to invite them to the webinar.
3. Determine What Resources Are Needed For Hosting Your Webinar
For the webinar to be successful, you’re going to need resources. These can be people, such as a speaker, writer, marketer, et al. But you’ll also need technical resources, such as live video conferencing, screen sharing, interactivity, etc.
4. Estimate Costs
Webinars are not free. While you might offer them for free, they cost money to make happen. Estimate the cost of paying speakers, renting equipment and other costs. Use estimation techniques to calculate the more accurate cost estimate possible.
5. Create a Budget For Your Webinar
Part of estimating costs is to develop an accurate project budget. The budget is made by listing all your tasks, resources and related costs over the course of the project. The budget will be the amount of money you can spend so be sure to monitor those costs to ensure you don’t overspend.
6. Identify What Webinar Planning Tasks Need to Be Done
The list of tasks you identified when creating a budget now have to be scheduled. That is, you must organize the tasks, prioritize them and assign each to a member of your team.
7. Define a Date for Your Webinar
Keeping in mind your target audience, decide on a date. For example, if your audience is in another time zone, don’t schedule the webinar for a time they wouldn’t be available or a date that would fall on some holiday.
8. Follow Up with Your Audience After the Webinar
After the webinar, be sure to follow up with the audience. Capture their email and ask how you did. This can help you learn from your mistakes to improve the next webinar. It is also a lead for sales, if that’s your intention.
Webinar Planning Best Practices
As the workforce becomes more mobile, the importance of webinars has only grown. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you everything you need to know to plan a webinar.
Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!
When planning any project, Jennifer noted that the first step is to go through the who, what, when, where, why and how of the webinar. Before you begin, she said, make sure you know what value the webinar will have for those watching.
Is the webinar going to be worth the participants’ time and money? Is it going to be relevant and timely? These are all questions to ask prior to planning. If the answer is yes, then you’re all ready to start the plan.
It’s a Project
Remember, a webinar is a project. It has a unique deliverable, with a start date and an end date. You’ll also want to know in advance what the end result of the webinar is. What is its purpose, its intention? In other words, be clear about what people should take away from the webinar.
Know Your Audience
Speaking of people, Jennifer noted that they’re a key part of the webinar. You must know your audience. Who is the target for the webinar? With this knowledge, you can work backward and direct all the information to these people.
Create an Agenda
Therefore, once you know “who,” you can work on “what.” That is, the agenda. Make it as specific as possible, with a timeline. Have agenda items for everything you want to cover and make sure there’s time allotted to cover it.
Set a Date
The next step is finding a date and time for the webinar. While it will get archived, one of the benefits of a live webinar is participation, having people on the call, etc. So, pick the best time to have the most viewers.
Get the Gear
Naturally, in order to archive the webinar and have it available for others to view who wasn’t able to attend live, you have to record it. Make sure you have the right software to capture your presentation, including the visuals and the viewer participation.
Another crucial aspect of the webinar, of course, is the hardware. You need to have good audio and video setup to make sure you can broadcast clearly and without glitches.
Once you have a date and time, send out reminders. It might feel obnoxious like you’re spamming your viewers, but it’s important. People are busy and like reminders.
Make it Easy to Sign Up
To make sure you have a good group of participants, make it easy for people to sign up, register and attend. The worst thing would be to attract the right person for the webinar, only to have them give up because of a confusing user interface.
Once you have an audience, don’t lose them by rambling or being verbose. Have your presentation be short, concise and to the point.
Have a Backup Plan
Things can go wrong. You might be on the road when you’re doing the webinar, there could be technical difficulties or any number of issues could arise. Anticipate these risks and have a Plan A, B and C to address them.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before you go live, practice. Practice, practice, practice. That can’t be stressed enough. You want to come across as knowledgeable but also natural, relaxed and enunciating clearly. Great content is ruined by bad delivery.
Drum up excitement for the webinar with pre-work and some light marketing. During the webinar, use polls to keep people engaged. You’ll want to set the stage, get the audience prepared and distribute the agenda. Tell them what to expect, and then summarize to make sure they understand what you’ve gone over.
Follow these steps and you’ll have a plan for a successful webinar.
Pro-Tip: Don’t let the name webinar intimidate you. It is just an online presentation. It follows the same rules: prepare, present and follow up.
Take it Further: Sometimes our business calls can be higher stakes than a webinar. Check out these phone etiquette tips and make good a good impression on a call.
Thanks for watching!