I heard something recently, it said, “ a webinar is a seminar conducted on the web” it may have just been intended as a play on words, but if you think about it, it makes so much sense. A webinar is a program hosted on a video or text-sharing site, aimed at informing and educating the attendees. Most companies host webinars as workshops for staff training. A webinar can also be hosted as a virtual event to promote a new product or service by the company’s brand promoters or sales representatives. In this article, we will be sharing the steps you need to follow to organize a successful webinar.
1. Consider the Need
Webinars work well for training and workshops, but may not be suitable for all topics and virtual events. Determine if hosting a webinar is the best option for you, by considering your purpose organizing one, your listening audience, the topic or subject matter, and the duration of time the speakers will need to exhaust the topic. You can deduce if a webinar is the right choice for you considering your listening audience by using surveys and assessment quizzes.
2. Appoint Speakers and Scout for a Support Team
A webinar typically needs the services of a facilitator or organizer, a speaker or presenter, and a support team.
The Facilitator (also known as the Organizer) is responsible for:
- Generating the topic for the webinar.
- Scouting for and appointing speakers or presenters.
- Increasing the webinar’s publicity.
- Communicating with attendees before and after the webinar.
- Introducing the speakers or presenters at the start of the webinar.
- Interviewing the webinar’s guests.
- Moderating the question and answer session.
- Addressing inquiries about the webinar before the day of the event.
There could be several presenters scheduled to take turns speaking about the topic of focus at the webinar. However, regardless of the number, the speaker is responsible for preparing and delivering an impactful presentation.
The support team which is a group of people designated to assist the presenters and the host is responsible for:
- Offering help to attendees who may be experiencing technical difficulties when trying to join the webinar.
- Giving directions on how to use the webinar tools that have been made available.
A support team mostly comes in handy in a webinar with a large audience.
3. Choose an Appropriate Format for the Webinar
Some common webinar formats include:
One presenter speaks, demonstrates, and moderates the question and answer session. Using this format, the presenter must know how to use the webinar tools. However, this doesn’t give room for variety in opinions, all the audience hears is monotony.
- An interviewer asks the webinar guest or guest questions regarding the topic of the day.
Using this format makes the webinar more engaging to the audience. However, it means that the host will have to train, schedule, and communicate with more people.
- Several speakers participate in the presentation, in a talk show panel setting with a single moderator.
This format offers a variety of opinions, but it may be tasking for the moderator, to keep the panelists from talking over each other.
- The audience is fully involved in an interactive session via activities and exercises led by the facilitator.
Using this format gets the attendees fully engaged in the webinar, and allows them to form their individual opinions of the topic. This style is best used for training though because it can only accommodate a small group of persons and requires a skilled facilitator.
4. Prepare a Visual Storytelling Script
Visuals make any presentation more interesting, webinars included. This article highlights the Dos and Don’ts to make your PowerPoint more interesting. Your visual storytelling should follow a laid-down script, to maintain orderliness and get you right back on track if you ever trail off.
Most facilitators start with an introductory slide that gives instructions on how to access the webinar, then another one to introduce each presenter so guests can get acquainted, and one giving a quick overview of what to expect in the event.
5. Select the Webinar Tool Most Suitable for You
To find the webinar tool most suitable for the event you plan to host, you must consider a few things:
- The number of people you’d like to reach out to
Webinar tools and packages often come with a number limit for different prices. Lower-priced packages have lower number limits (up to 15 participants per webinar). Higher-priced packages, however, allow up to 1,000 participants per webinar, or more.
The size of your target audience will help you choose the specific package to patronize.
Some webinar platforms are free, others are not. The way each platform charges for hosting is different as well. Some platforms charge for video conferencing and audio-sharing differently, others per minute, monthly, or annually. Your budget for the event will help you narrow your options and pick the platform with the most suitable pricing scheme.
- The special features you’d need for the webinar
Depending on the purpose of the webinar, you may desire some extra features. When picking a platform for your webinar, consider the features offered by the vendor, and make sure it has all you need.
- The audio system provided by the Platform
For most platforms, the audio is integrated so participants can view and listen in the same space. Some platforms, however, may offer a toll number which attendees have to pay the fees charged by their private ISP, or a toll-free number which the host has to cover the cost on behalf of the attendees. There are platforms that offer all three audio systems as well.
- Recording or no Recording?
Most platforms charge extra to store a recording of the event for viewing at a later time. What gets recorded is up to, if it would be the audio only, visuals only, or both. However, you should confirm how long the recording will be available, as platforms differ.
6. Meet with the Speakers and Deliberate on an Agenda
While preparing for the webinar, meet with the speakers and deliberate on the order and duration of the presentation, and what questions to ask in the Q and A session. It also helps to have the presenters send you (the host) their slides before D-day for preview and proofreading. After the meeting, endeavor to send the conclusions to everyone involved in the planning of the webinar via e-mail, to keep them updated.
7. Book a Practice Session
Ever heard the saying, “practice makes perfect”? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but it does help to leave you prepared for the big day. Your practice session should be an hour long or less and cover a guide on how to use the patronized webinar platform, an equipment check, and a preview of your agenda and visual presentation.
8. Create a Space for your Equipment
Basic equipment necessary for a successful webinar includes a pair of headsets, a PC or monitor, a power pack for the PC, and a reliable Internet connection. Whatever equipment you are using, you will need a quiet space to host your webinar and stay connected to a power source. Create a space away from noise and interruptions for this purpose.
9. Set up Measures for Registration and Payment
While preparing for your webinar, remember to put measures in place for the registration of participants. Most platforms have integrated registration options, however, you may also use a separate tool if you like. You should also determine whether or not you will charge for attendance, and how much you will. If you do decide to charge participants for showing up, share enough value in the webinar for your audience to believe it was worth the price. Remember, the higher you charge, the more expectations prospective attendees will have for the event. When choosing a price tag for the event, set up a system of payment as well that will be stress-free for participants.
PS: Statistics show that free webinars have fewer attendees than paid ones.
10. Advertise your Webinar for Visibility
After putting all the necessary measures in place, it is time to give your webinar some publicity. You should start advertising at least two or three weeks before the event, create a compelling description and specify your target audience.
Advertise your webinar on your website and social media platforms, newsletters, and tweets help too. Promote future webinars at the end of the current one and hint at the highlights, to build anticipation.
Webinars can be expensive and a pain to plan, but they are most effective for training and when promoting a new product. I hope this article eases the process for you, let us know