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The Don’ts to Hosting an Excellent Webinar

Isn’t it great to venture back to the time when seminars were held in a large place, audience members lined up to enter and get a good seat, with the speaker in the same building, talking straight to them? Given today’s hustle-and-bustle way of life, it’s already difficult to host a seminar, much less get people to attend. Technology, though, has a solution: a web seminar or webinar.

Since its start in May 1996 with NetMeeting, the webinar has evolved. It’s no surprise that it’s now considered as one of the best marketing tactics around. You reach and engage your audience even in remote areas. More options are now available to the host that make it easy to pull off.

However, if you think it’s that simple to host a webinar, then you’re mistaken. There are a lot of bad things you can do to fail, like the following. These shortcomings will guarantee you a bad and poorly presented webinar, so it would be prudent to avoid these.

Avoiding Three Basic Flops to Host a Great Webinar | No Internet Connection

Not Checking Connection

It’s a commonly known fact that webinars are done online—the Internet connecting hundreds to thousands of people from different corners of the globe to a single spot. While the number of attendees doesn’t do much to hamper the flow of the web presentation, your connection to the world wide web may and will be compromised quickly since you’re consuming a great chunk of bandwidth with video and audio streaming.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to secure a strong and stable Internet connection, or at least be aware of what can happen when your connectivity is weak and cannot handle something as demanding as a webinar. You know how YouTube videos suddenly stop playing to buffer and load? Don’t let your audiences experience that.

But what if there was an unforeseen emergency? A backup ISP is usually the best answer. The times when technology will fail you may be hard to predict, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare contingency plans.

Avoiding Three Basic Flops to Host a Great Webinar | Outdated Equipment

Skimping on the Hardware

Don’t underestimate a webinar’s demand for hardware. If YouTubers and streamers need hundreds of dollars for specialized equipment, expect to shell out the same amount just to get the gears rolling.

First off, you’re going to need a webinar platform. There are good subscription services for this. Next, you need a computer capable of multitasking, since you’d be running a lot of programs (platform and presentation, among others) simultaneously. Then, as above, a good ISP and a heavy-duty modem/router with matching bandwidth. Lastly, the bunch purchase of high-quality webcam, speakers, and microphone. Those preinstalled on laptops are often not good enough; rather, you want those specialized ones that may be a bit costly but are worth it.

Once more with the backup plans, you’d want extras as well. If that means another platform, computer, and extra accessories, then so be it. At least you’re prepared when any one of those fails at the last minute.

Avoiding Three Basic Flops to Host a Great Webinar | PowerPoint Animations

Being Reckless with PowerPoint Animations

Of course, you’re expected to have a beautifully designed presentation deck. You, a presentation designer, or a presentation design agency should take care of that. However, don’t get overzealous with how you craft your presentation pitch deck.

The basics, such as using less text to make way for powerful images and making font sizes larger, among others, should still be followed. There is no excuse for shirking away from the essentials. But present in PowerPoint, and absent in normal images or infographics, are animations that display specific elements with a nifty twist. Even a normal presentation shies away from too much object movement.

But should a webinar avoid it too? Not really, but there are more considerations. For one, animations seldom go smoothly online since there are circumstances out of your control. Your animations may show up nicely on your end, but your audiences may experience “jumpiness” on theirs.

Instead, only use animation on objects that really need it: a point you need to emphasize instantly or to show progression or any sort of movement that will arrest attention. The lesser your PowerPoint animations are, the better. In the same way that too much effects can break your deck, webinars can also be more conducive to learning with minimal special effects.

Conclusion

Don’t even attempt these gross neglects of basic steps. Presentation technology may have made life easier to live in, but it will be useless without a decent amount of human effort to operate it.

Hosting a webinar with slides is simpler now, with the Internet carrying the burden of many menial tasks, but that doesn’t mean you can just be willy-nilly about it. Without a solid plan, you’re bound to fail. Take the time to prepare. Then wow your audience with an unforgettable web seminar. Leave them wanting for more.

Resources:

Agron, Mike. “Ultimate Planning Checklist for Successful Webinars.” Content Marketing Institute. May 13, 2016. www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/05/planning-checklist-webinars

Courville, Roger. “3 Reasons PowerPoint Animations May Suck in Your Webinar (and What to Do About It).” EventBuilder. February 13, 2013. www.eventbuilder.rocks/3-reasons-powerpoint-animations-may-suck-in-your-webinar-and-what-to-do-about-it

Majumdar, Arunima. “14 Tips to Create and Present a Highly Effective Webinar.” eLearning Industry. February 20, 2014. www.elearningindustry.com/14-tips-to-create-and-present-a-highly-effective-webinar

Shelley, Brian. “11 Steps to Make Sure Your Next Webinar Is a Total Flop.” HubSpot. February 7, 2013. blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34149/11-Steps-to-Make-Sure-Your-Next-Webinar-Is-a-Total-Flop.aspx

Shewan, Dan. “How to Do a Webinar Your Audience Will Love.” WordStream. March 16, 2016. www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/08/26/how-to-do-a-webinar

Sibley, Amanda. “10 Things That Take a Webinar from Good to Great.” HubSpot. January 3, 2014. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/webinar-planning-list

Skrivanko, Mary Ann. “Webinars – History and Trends.” InsiderHub. June 30, 2015. www.insiderhub.com/webinars-history-and-trends

Wasielewski, Jarek. “Top 4 Do’s and Don’ts of Webinars.” ClickMeeting. October 1, 2014. blog.clickmeeting.com/topdos-donts-webinars

How Can I Become an Effective Webinar Host?

It’s understandable why some people refuse to host webinars to boost their marketing campaign. The experience can be stressful when undertaken the wrong way. First-timers who aren’t confident enough to believe that they have what it takes to pull off the event can find the experience nerve-wracking. Like most presentations, webinars require careful planning. Hosts are expected to devote ample time to ensure that everything goes well—and the implications of that fact alone are enough to give anyone cold feet.

However, if there’s one reason why businesses should still consider hosting a webinar, it’s that the pay-off is well worth the hassle. A webinar provides a whole range of functionalities that other types of media and social platforms can’t offer. For instance, webinars are a quick and surefire way to forge new connections and generate trust from potential clients in your target niche. Also, compared to live seminars, webinars are more practical and regulated because they cost less, demand less time, and can be controlled from start to finish.

If you leave out webinars from your campaign, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities. To keep abreast with the latest technology, you need to host effective webinars.

The Secrets of Successful Webinar Hosts

There aren’t many webinar hosts out there who can draw their target audience’s attention from the start and sustain it until the end. However, those who are skilled enough to do this aren’t hard to emulate. In fact, their strategies when analyzed are easy to understand. Below are some of the secrets of successful webinar hosts.

1. They craft attention-grabbing headlines

Coming up with a catchy headline is winning half the battle. Your potential attendees have no way of knowing exactly what they’ll be getting out of your webinar, so it’s important that the title of your event packs enough information without sacrificing fun.

2. They learn their way around webinar technologies

You’d think it’s obvious, but many webinar hosts still don’t realize that getting the hang of webinar technologies before an event is an absolute must. They wait until the last minute before doing a test run. By leaving out this important step, they take value from their overall experience and the audience’s. The result is dissatisfaction on both ends.

Even on the onset, you should be involved in deciding which webinar tool to use. Consider all possible factors when making this decision. Also, make sure that your provider is willing to train your team so that you can make the most of your webinar experience. Knowing how webinar technologies work will enable you to provide clear instructions to your audience. Equipped with this knowledge, you can walk them through the various features and functionalities of the tools you’re using.

3. They put audio over everything else

In a live presentation, the way you carry yourself onstage is as important as the way you sound. You need to keep the audience invested not only in what you say but also in the way you say it. The same can be said about webinars, although audio-related factors are way more important in this platform than visual ones. Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, the audience sometimes don’t get the chance to see you face-to-face. The only connection you have with them is your voice. This is why it’s imperative that you get a good external mic and a soundproof room to aid in audio quality. On top of this, you should make sure to use a confident and conversational tone to keep your audience engaged.

4. They hold the audience’s attention to the last minute

Don’t be too naïve to assume that your audience will stay with you from beginning to end. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. With so many distractions that technology offers, you have no choice now but to compete for your audience’s attention. It would serve you well to add interesting elements like lively videos, good humor, captivating narratives, intriguing facts, and relevant questions into your presentation.

5. They practice and practice some more

One way to make sure that your webinar is seamless is by doing a test run. As they say, practice makes perfect. By reviewing your performance before going live, you give yourself a chance to polish the whole thing and minimize errors. Don’t wait until the last minute before you try out the webinar tools you’re going to use. Test them ahead of time—ideally at the same time you review your content and delivery. Practicing your act will help lessen your stress and give you more confidence.

6. They take marketing seriously

The most successful webinars are those that are marketed optimally. There’s only one way for you to attract a wide audience, and that is to promote the webinar ahead of time. Explore different social media platforms and start online discussions to promote the event. By maximizing all marketing opportunities, you can also maximize audience reach.

7. They review feedback to better themselves

No matter how good you are, there is always an opportunity for learning—a room for improvement that you may have overlooked before. That’s why after delivering a webinar, you should review your performance and take whatever feedback you can, whether good or otherwise. By doing this, you can become a better webinar host.

Webinars are here to stay, so the wise thing to do is tame the platform while it’s still not overused. With the aforementioned tips, you can become a better webinar host and expand your brand reach.

Resources:

Carucci, John & Sharan, Sharat. “How to Ensure Webinar Audio Quality.” Dummies. n.d. www.dummies.com/careers/business-communication/webinars/how-to-ensure-webinar-audio-quality

Dietrich, Gini. “14 Steps to Hosting a Successful Webinar.” Convince and Convert. n.d. www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/14-steps-to-hosting-a-successful-webinar

Pappas, Christoforos. “Hosting a Winning Webinar: The Ultimate Guide.” eLearning Industry. August 22, 2015. elearningindustry.com/hosting-winning-webinar-ultimate-guide

Pappas, Christoforos. “Top 7 Tips to be a Successful Webinar Host.” eLearning Industry. October 5, 2015. elearningindustry.com/top-7-webinar-tips-successful-webinar-host

Warren, Gabriela. “How to Organize and Host a Webinar.” Lifewire. September 20, 2016. www.lifewire.com/how-to-organize-and-host-a-webinar-2377237

Weller, Nathan B. “The 15 Best Webinar Software Products from Around the Web.” Elegant Themes. January 17, 2015. www.elegantthemes.com/blog/resources/the-15-best-webinar-software-products-from-around-the-web

Pointers for Planning a Successful Webinar

Preparation is a critical step in any type of campaign, including hosting webinars. To produce a successful one, you need to lay out all the steps leading to the actual event. It might be tempting to jump straight to the promotion stage, especially if you have a winning topic and a celebrated speaker, but no excuse can justify skipping the planning part. Without a solid plan in place, you may run the risk of delivering a lackluster presentation that will only prove to be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Planning a webinar may seem like a daunting task, but it’s necessary if you want a worthwhile output. Part of the process is creating a checklist that will solidify your strategy. You don’t have to worry about the technicality of it all. With the abundance of tools you have at your disposal, you can plan an online seminar even with limited technological expertise. And besides, every bit of effort you make will be worth the rewards you’ll reap in the end.

Can a Webinar Help Reach Your Business Goals?

You’d think the answer to that question is an unwavering yes, but it actually depends on the goals you aim to achieve. While it’s true that webinars are an effective marketing tool, they only work in certain contexts. So, before planning one, make sure it will leave a positive impact on your business.

What exactly are webinars for? For one, they’re a good training and outreach tool. You can use them to share your expertise to your target audience. Webinars are also effective for getting the word out to your customers when rolling out a new product. When done right, it can help you move customers further down the sales funnel and reposition yourself as an industry thought leader.

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Resources:

Berdeal-Skelly, Michelle. “6 Tips to Planning a Successful Webinar.” Find and Convert. October 14, 2014. www.findandconvert.com/2014/10/6-tips-to-planning-a-successful-webinar

Gilbert-Knight, Ariel. “10 Steps for Planning a Successful Webinar.” TechSoup. September 2, 2016. www.techsoup.org/support/articles-and-how-tos/10-steps-for-planning-a-successful-webinar

Sibley, Amanda. “10 Things That Take a Webinar From Good to Great.” HubSpot. January 3, 2014. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/webinar-planning-list#sm.0000w6nx4vstbcwkqnc12umt2kzcx

“15 Tips for a Successful Webinar.” MegaMeeting. n.d. www.megameeting.com/15_Successful_Webinar_Tips_Part1.html

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Can Hosting a Webinar Expand Your Audience?

Today’s business climate makes it more challenging to gain business leads. Competition is tight, so brands should up their game to survive. If you want to stay at the top, you should learn how to keep liabilities at the minimum and make the most of your assets.

Phone marketing was the norm before, but today, digital marketing is king. Businesses leverage online resources like social media, blogs, visual content, and what is probably the least known of all marketing channels: webinars. The rise of digital marketing has paved the way for businesses to do more without spending more. Make sure you use this advantage comprehensively.

Webinar Tips: Primary Goals and Purposes

Webinar 101: Primary Goals and Purposes

A webinar is a live meeting that takes place over the web. Obviously, it’s a portmanteau that blends the words “web” and “seminar.” According to webinar expert Marta Eichstaedt, when webinars are used as marketing tools, they typically last between thirty minutes to a full hour. This length already takes into account the spontaneous interaction between the host and the audience.

There are many reasons why marketers include webinars in their business efforts. The following are the three most important.

  • To educate customers. According to ClickMeeting, 85% of webinars are designed to educate existing and potential clients. If there’s one thing webinars should do, it’s to offer a novel perspective. They ought to satiate people’s desire to learn new things. Webinars are also a tool for businesses to solidify their credibility and establish themselves as experts in the field.
  • To promote brand awareness. The more successful your webinar is, the more people will learn about it. The louder the noise it makes, the more people will check it out. Hosting a webinar can expand your audience reach every time you bring something fresh and interesting to the table.
  • To generate new business leads. The same infographic by ClickMeeting claimed that 77% of webinars are designed to attract new leads. With a successful webinar, you can reach more business prospects and cultivate them through the sales process.

Webinar Tips: The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The perks of hosting a webinar abound—that’s why businesses can’t get enough of it. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from using this marketing tool to your advantage:

    • Save on costs. No matter how big your company is, you still need to use your resources wisely. Webinars are a good investment because they don’t cost much. All you need is a stable internet connection to hold one and a few active online platforms to promote it.
    • Maximize time. Unlike in physical events like seminars or conferences, you don’t need months or weeks to prepare for a webinar. A few days of preparation would suffice. You can also save time from traveling since you can conduct a webinar from the comforts of your home or office. 
    • Repurpose content. Webinars are versatile tools for marketing. You can turn them into webcasts once the event is over. You can also repurpose webinar content into a blog post or website copy. If you’re able to record your sessions, you can keep them in your knowledgebase for future reference.
    • Eliminate physical barriers. One of the conveniences of hosting a webinar is that anyone can participate in it, regardless of location or time zone. Speakers are also free to interact with participants through real-time polls and chat boxes.
    • Get feedback. You can immediately gauge the success of your webinar by sending out a survey to the participants. The feedback can clue you in as to the strengths and weaknesses of your event.

Webinar Tips: Preparing for a Webinar | Signup Form

Preparing for a Webinar

Before hosting a webinar, you need to find out first if there’s a demand for it. Conduct a survey in your audience circle, and find out if enough people are interested to join your session. Once you’re sure that the audience likes this format, proceed to the preparation phase.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Craft the content. Kick off by briefly introducing yourself, the other speakers or panelists, and the companies involved. Tell the audience about the topic you’re going to tackle, and give them a preview of what’s going to happen. You should be able to grab their attention during the first few minutes. In the body of your content, present a maximum of three ideas that you can expound on. Finally, finish off with a memorable statement, a call to action, and a courtesy message for the participants.
  • Set the time and duration. Find out what works best for your attendees. If you have foreign prospects, make sure that you find a common time that’s convenient for them and for the local participants.
  • Determine the panelists. Invite someone who can communicate the message best. You can collaborate with other brands to add greater value to your webinar. Have someone who is familiar with your content and who can help keep your presentation flowing smoothly. 
  • Prepare your tools. Obviously, you need technology to set up your event. Find a platform that can host your webinar, and make sure that your Internet connection is reliable enough to stream it. It’s also important to get a good phone headset, ideally a cordless one, so that you can stand up and move while talking. 
  • Create a landing page. Make sure it has sufficient details about the webinar to make the prospects excited about signing up. Include a registration form that requests information from your attendees. The most important fields are the name and e-mail address. You can also ask for the company they’re affiliated with. Any more than these three can make your prospects less likely to sign up.

The Takeaway

Once you’ve hosted your own webinar, you’ll understand why it’s considered by many businesses as an effective customer acquisition channel. Explore the wonders of this tool and discover how it can propel your business to success.

Resources:

Howes, Lewis. “8 Ways to Boost Your Business with Webinars.” Lewis Howes. n.d. lewishowes.com/webinars/webinar-marketing-tips-and-resources

Jozwiak, Agnes. “World Wide Webinars: New Infographic.” ClickMeeting. March 23, 2012. blog.clickmeeting.com/world-wide-webinars-new-infographic

MacDonald, Steven. “How to Successfully Host a Webinar and Build Your Audience.” E-Marketeer. August 19, 2014. www.emarketeer.com/blog/successfully-host-webinar-build-audience

Moreau, Elise. “What Is a Webinar?” Lifewire. April 6, 2016. www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-webinar-3486257

Russer, Michael. “Expand Your Reach with Webinars.” Realtor Mag. July 2009. realtormag.realtor.org/technology/mr-internet/article/2009/07/expand-your-reach-webinars

Slyman, Natalie. “How to Hold an Effective Webinar an Generate Leads for Your Business.” Influence & Co. December 6, 2016. blog.influenceandco.com/how-to-hold-an-effective-webinar-and-generate-leads-for-your-business

Wasielewski, Jarek. “How Webinars Expand Reach to Your Target Audience in Online Marketing.” ClickMeeting. September 12, 2014. blog.clickmeeting.com/webinars-expand-reach-target-audience-online-marketing

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Check out our Webinar for ON24 :Teaching the Importance of Simplicity

 

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SlideGenius Founder and CEO Rick Enrico spoke last Thursday on the importance of simplicity in presentation design as a part of ON24’s very first installment of its Webinar Academy.

To view the webinar, titled, “Avoiding Information Overload: The Importance of Simplicity in Presentation Design,” do the quick, 1-minute registration here and view the entire webinar series created by ON24, a leading virtual communications company. Along with Rick’s, you’ll find several other Webinars that have a lot to teach about presenting in the digital age.

on24_logo

While most presentations designed by SildeGenius are given in person, the attention ON24 is giving to Webinars is indicative of a growing trend toward Internet-based presenting and how this is expanding our scope of how we can reach an audience. By viewing our webinar, you’ll see that all the key elements of an effective PowerPoint presentation are still there, but coupled with it is the ability to reach millions of people at the click of a button by creating your presentation online.

How to Humanize Your Virtual Presentations

In an age where advances in Internet technology allow us to communicate from nearly anywhere at any time, virtual presentations are naturally becoming more and more prevalent.

We’ve previously pointed out that things like body language, movement, and eye contact are vital in establishing trust with your audience during a powerpoint presentation, but what happens when you’re no longer visible to the people you’re presenting to? When presenting online, whether it’s through Skype or a Webinar, there are a few things that must be done in order to keep your audience captivated in the online world.

Body Language?

Wait, didn’t we just decide that body language isn’t a factor? Well, sort of.

Although unseen, poor body language can have a serious indirect effect on your presentation.
Although unseen, poor body language can have a serious indirect effect on your presentation.

Just because your audience can’t see you, doesn’t mean that there aren’t some indirect effects from your body movement. Rather than slouch in your chair for your entire presentation, stand-up and move around a little. This will open up your diaphragm and amplify your energy, which will be apparent to your audience through the enthusiasm conveyed by the tone of your voice.

Prepare Your Environment

Don’t make the embarrassing age-old mistake of having an alarm or ring go off during your presentation. Close all your windows on your computer that might make a noise, and set your cell phone on silent. We know you probably know better, but this happens far too often not to mention. And if you’re giving your presentation at your desk, remove all distractions your prone to fiddling with while distracted, especially the ones that tend to make noise.

Don't let this be you during your virtual presentation. Err on the side of caution and prepare for the worst.
Don’t let this be you during your virtual presentation. Err on the side of caution and prepare for the worst.

Not that technological mishaps are ever desirable, but they’re especially problematic with a virtual presentation. Make sure you allot twenty to thirty minutes prior to the start of your presentation to make sure all systems are go before crunch time. It’s also a good idea to find a moderator to assist you in managing your presentation in the background and fielding questions from your audience online. You don’t want to have to multitask while keeping the conversation going.

You are Your Slides

Wait, what?

By this, we mean that you won’t get a chance to show off your dazzling smile or your killer wardrobe when presenting through the web. Your presentation deck is the only first impression you’ll be able to make, so you better make sure it’s a good one.

Your slides can tell audiences that you’re a competent, creative, and upbeat person, or they can say that you’re sloppy and uncaring. Your personal appearance wont be there, so added emphasis on your slides is a must.

You likely won't be seen during a virtual presentation, so you'll have to let your slides do the talking.
You likely won’t be seen during a virtual presentation, so you’ll have to let your slides do the talking.

This leads to a common problem with virtual presentations: keeping your audience’s attention. Audience members may click around on the web while you’re speaking, minimize your window and tune out, because as cynical as it sounds, you likely won’t be able to tell the difference.

A captivating presentation deck is the first step toward solving this problem. The second is to stay proactive about directing your audience’s attention back to your slides. This differs from an in-person presentation where you usually remain the center of attention. By constantly referring to your slides, your online audience will have to focus their eyes and ears on your presentation to retain your information.

While you must consider the different senses that your audience will be focusing on in a virtual presentation, the tenants of good presenting remain the same. Do your research, rehearse thoroughly, and show up with a killer presentation deck–you’ll do just fine.