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Here Are 25 Ways To Improve Your Next Webinar

Improve this important part of your marketing today


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Marcus Christiansen

3 years ago | 14 min read

Pandemic or not, webinars can be a powerful tool in your educational or commercial strategy — or they can be boring, bad, and a waste of time.

I’ve spent years working with companies to improve their verbal and visual storytelling and applying it to webinars and presentations. Over the course of that journey, I picked up experiences that I’ve tried to condense into 25 ways for you to improve your webinars.

Here are my tips on how you can deliver a great webinar.

The Benefits of Webinars Are (Almost) Limitless

Webinars are great both for internal and external (commercial) use. If you want to educate your staff internally, you can easily reach them even if they’re working from home, are on a trip, or if you’re working for a completely remote company as more and more people do these days.

If you’re using webinars for commercial use, as a way to gather leads for your products or services, you can reach anyone with an internet connection and an interest in what you do. Where on-site education or workshops fall short, your webinar can pick up and go the distance, literally.

Webinars can easily help you:

  • Educate your staff or customers.
  • Build and strengthen your own brand.
  • Establish yourself as an authority within your industry.
  • Generate a lot of future leads.
  • Sell your products/services.

When all of this is said and done, you can go over your own material and use it to write blog posts about the subjects you cover, you can use snippets of the video stream for your social media, and grow even more from there.

What Exactly Is a Webinar?

A webinar, as the name hints at, is a seminar but on the web. In other words, it’s an online seminar and is built up in much the same way. There’s a host (or multiple hosts) who gives or shows a presentation and answers questions. Of course, the most important part is the audience interacting with the host.

Though it resembles other types of online videos, a webinar is structured in such a way that it is more of an interactive experience for the audience. Instead of just passively watching and listening, they can ask questions and participate.

A more interactive feeling is a very effective way of keeping the audience engaged so they don’t tune out, open a new browser tab, or just close the window. You’re more inclined to not leave in the middle of a conversation than you are to not simply stop a video you’re watching, right?

Here’s How You Can Improve Your Webinars

Alright, now that we’re on the same page — webinars sound like a great concept. How do we make sure that ours is a winner and not something that’ll lead to us being charged for boring our audience to death?

Based on my own experience, and other experts in the field I’ve spoken to, I’ve broken it down into 25 things to keep in mind to make sure that your webinar is a success.

Let’s dive in.

1. Know Your Audience

Who is going to listen to and watch your webinar? This is what you first need to figure out. If you know who’ll be attending, you can make sure that your webinar content rings true and is useful to them.

ConvertKit is a great example of a company that regularly hosts webinars as a way to help their new and potential customers to get started with their services. It’s educational, easy to follow along, and by giving these webinars, ConvertKit makes sure that a higher percentage of their customers get a positive experience and remain with them for longer.

Take out a pen and paper, and write down what you know about your ideal audience.

  • Who are you hoping will attend your webinar?
  • What challenges are they facing, that you can help them solve?
  • Where are they now, and where can they be after your webinar?

Your answers help you set a direction for your webinar content.

2. Write a Great Webinar Title

This is an important part of your webinar’s chances of success. Don’t just slap a descriptive (or even worse, a non-descriptive) title on there and call it a day. You need to think about and work on this just as much as if it was a blog post, a YouTube video, or a book.

Why?

Titles are what sell your idea. They’re usually the first point of contact between your potential attendees and your webinar. If your title is boring, or vague, people will scroll past it and forget they ever saw it mentioned. On the other hand, if the title is intriguing, and makes your potential audience think about how it can be useful to them, they’re more likely to find out more.

Your title stops them in their tracks and lets your description of the webinar do the work of sealing the deal with signup.

3. Promote the Webinar Ahead of Time

A common mistake with webinars is when people don’t promote their webinars enough ahead of time. They set things up and throws up a mention or two on their social media (or worse, only on their own website) without much heads-up. And then they wait.

You should prepare social media posts, graphics, short videos, and mention your webinar several weeks in advance. People’s calendars are filling up fast— you can’t show up a week before and expect them to have an empty calendar just waiting for your webinar.

Get there before everyone else. Have them earmark that time so that everything else gets planned around your webinar.

4. Invest in Your Sound

Sound quality is crucial. Have you ever watched a video where the image was bad but the sound was good? Or where the image was clear and crisp, but the sound was bad?

For some reason, we can put up with mediocre video quality (if we have to), but if the audio is too bad, we run for the hills. I can’t explain why, but my guess would be that if the video is bad, you can still gather the important things and ignore the rest, while audio is a much more intense experience as it’s harder to ignore the bad parts of sound when actively trying to hear what is being said.

Invest in a quality microphone. There are a ton of them out there just a web search away, so please save your webinar audience from having to listen to the sound of your computer’s built-in microphone.

5. Don’t Under-Stay Your Welcome Once You’re There

I used to be a proponent of keeping webinars short. Much like with meetings, I felt that they tend to drag on needlessly long, and could almost always be condensed.

But I’ve changed my mind. It seems webinars of 60 minutes attract 2.1 times more registrants than what a 30-minute webinar does.

If people want longer webinars, let’s give them what they want. Just make sure that you deliver quality content throughout your whole webinar, and not fill it out with fluff. A 30-minute webinar full of good content is better than a 60-minute webinar with the same amount of content.

6. Don’t Lose Your Audience Before You Get Going

Your webinar has just started, and your audience is paying attention. These first few minutes are key to keeping them around.

They’re sitting in front of their computers (or smartphones), so it doesn’t take much to lose their focus. They might switch to another tab, another app, an email or Slack notification might pop up on the screen. The risk of distractions is nearly endless, so bring your A-game.

A common approach to starting a webinar is by introducing and talking about yourself and what you do for a few minutes before getting into the topic of the day.

You should hold off with this. No one cares about you before you’ve proven your value.

Instead, try starting off with some piece of interesting and/or unexpected insight into the topic. This will pique their interest, and gives you an opportunity to talk just slightly more about it, and that you will elaborate on this during the webinar.

When you’ve done this, you’re free to introduce yourself a bit more. Go for it, you’ve earned it.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

7. Where Will You Take Them?

When speaking in front of people, you have pretty bad control over your audience’s attention, but you at least have some. There’s the social pressure of at least not overtly using your phone or computer, or talk to someone else, in front of the speaker.

With a webinar, you’ve lost even this small advantage. You’re not in the same room, you can’t make eye contact with them, and anything from a notification, to someone next to them, can distract from your webinar.

Present a clear and concise agenda early on in your presentation, and refer back to where you are on your journey along the way throughout the webinar. This will give your attendees an idea of what will be covered, where you are, and how much more there likely will be.

Do this to make it easy to stay engaged.

8. Don’t Hide From Your Audience

When you’re up on stage giving a presentation, your audience can see you, and they know that you can see them as well. This creates a bond between you, you humanize one another and this helps with feeling engaged and part of the experience.

You can’t quite get the same with a webinar, but you can do your best to re-create this. Present yourself visually, either by showing a photo of you as you introduce yourself, or preferably by turning on your camera for this part. Do this as you tell your story early on.

After this, you can use presentation slides but turn the camera back on when you answer any questions at the end of the webinar as well.

We like to see with whom we’re interacting.

9. Stay on Topic

People are attending your webinar for a reason — this is an important thing to keep in mind. Make sure you prepare your talking points and your content so that you don’t stray from the topic and frustrate your audience who is giving their time to you. If you’re going to tell anecdotes or give examples, make sure they’re directly related to your topic.

10. Stick to One Topic

When we manage to get people’s attention and have them attend a webinar of ours, it’s easy to get excited and want to tell them about everything — but we shouldn’t. They might not want to know every little thing you know, and even if they did, they might not have the time for a two-hour masterclass. Choose one topic and stick to it. When you niche down, your content will resonate more with the audience you attract. A webinar is meant to focus on That One Idea, not That One Idea, Oh, But Also This Other Idea, Not to Mention This Cool Idea.

11. Direct Their Attention

Throughout your webinar, you’ll be displaying information on the screen. You should be very particular about what information to display on your slides. If it’s not useful and directly relates to what you’re talking about for that slide, it needs to go.

Hopefully, this will leave you with only the essential information on each slide. When talking, make sure to point out the main focus of a slide and any parts of the information that is extra important. “As you can see on this graph, …”, “Now if we look at this picture, what stands out is…” and so on. You get the idea.

12. Keep the Amount of Text to a Minimum

Your audience isn’t there to read an article. They’re attending your webinar to have you tell them something.

Don’t fill up your slides with full sentences, paragraphs, and on and on. Any words used should be kept to a minimum. It should take less than three seconds to grasp the whole slide, so if you’re going to use a full sentence, make that the only information on that slide. The slides are only there to support what you say, they’re not meant to be a stand-alone presentation.

13. It’s a Mobile World

We do more and more through our smartphones. Let’s take this into account when we’re designing our webinar slides. The people attending might be commuting, or for whatever other reasons end up watching on a smaller screen than a desktop computer. This means that we need to keep in mind how easily readable our slides are on smaller screens.

Design for smaller smartphone screens, and you’ll have covered all bases.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

14. Keep the Interface In Mind

This is a tricky thing that I’ve personally come across several times when attending a webinar. The topic is interesting and the presenter is engaging, but some of the vital content on the slides is placed so that it ends up underneath the interface of the webinar service.

You’ve probably come across a similar situation during online meetings when someone is screen sharing and the interface ends up on top of whatever it is that you’re trying to see.

Test out the interface, and see what areas you need to steer clear of to make sure everything is visible.

15. Know Your Lines (or Cheat)

What are you going to say?

You need to know this ahead of time. There’s no room for “winging it”, no matter if that’s your preferred style or not. Going into a webinar without a very clear script is disrespectful to everyone who’s taking time out of their day to listen to you. Don’t let them down with a rambling, incoherent presentation.

Write down what you’re going to say for each slide, word for word. Go over it, rehearse, and try to learn it by heart. When you’re giving your webinar, it’s completely fine to have it written out in front of you just to be safe. Just make sure to practice it enough ahead of time so that it doesn’t come across as you just reading it from a piece of paper.

16. Don’t Overstay a Slide

A slide that matches what you’re talking about is great for getting a message across. A slide that doesn’t match is going to work against you and might confuse and even frustrate your audience.

When you’re putting your webinar presentation together, make sure that you either have a slide for each talking point you’ll be covering (including anecdotes and examples), or that you’ll be switching over to only displaying yourself when there are no matching slides.

17. Don’t Be Afraid of Animations

A webinar presentation doesn’t have to be this static “one slide after another” kind of experience. There are animations available in all major presentation tools, and you should feel at liberty to use them.

Just make sure you use them wisely. A simple animation is always better than a complex one, and animation needs to have a purpose. Are you presenting three different things on a slide and want to focus on one at a time when talking? Highlight the one you’re talking about somehow. You could lower the opacity of the other ones temporarily for example.

Keep it simple, keep it relevant.

18. Make it Interactive to Engage the Audience

A webinar, just like a standard presentation, can easily start to feel like a stale one-way street where it’s just a presenter going on and on about their topic. The audience sits there, passively listening, until they realize that they’re no longer listening and they’re not quite sure for how long they zoned out. They didn’t mean to, it’s just how we function. When we’re not actively engaged, our mind begins to wander on its own.

To keep everyone engaged, throw in some interaction along the way. Ask a question and have people write in the chat what their response is. If your webinar software allows for it, use a clicker plugin or other tool to have the audience respond, vote, or something else directly on their device. As studies show, this can increase how much newfound knowledge your audience manages to take away from your webinar.

19. Finish With a Call to Action

You’re giving this webinar for a reason, am I right? You have a bigger vision, and your webinar is one step along the way.

Don’t just end your webinar, make sure you express a call to action. Direct people to somewhere, or to do something. Do you have more information somewhere for them to check out? Is there a product or service related to your topic? Is there something you want to encourage them to do? Express this.

Give your audience an easy next step.

20. Leave Room for Questions

If you’re running a live webinar, there’ll likely be questions people want to ask afterward. Leave time for a Q&A after your presentation is finished, and encourage everyone to ask their questions. You might find that some areas of your presentation were unclear, and this gives you a chance to improve for your next webinar. And you might be able to answer questions that help someone to go from unsure to ready to invest in your next step.

21. Have Your Own Questions Prepared As Well

Just to be on the safe side, have your own questions prepared. Go over your topic, and your slides, and think about what kinds of questions might be relevant. If you end up with few or no questions during your Q&A, you can bring some of these up to clarify something and to gently nudge the audience closer to taking that next step you encouraged them to do with your call to action.

22. Hand Out a Bonus

Everyone likes free content. Put together some kind of digital handout that is relevant to your webinar topic. It could be a summary of what you have presented (along with a call to action, of course — wink-wink, nudge-nudge), or some kind of bonus material that you haven’t covered but is relevant to the audience.

23. Ask Your Audience What They Want to See Next Time

Before signing off, you can also ask your audience if there’s anything more they’d want to see from you in a future webinar. This could present you with crowdsourced ideas that you know resonates with your audience — after all, they came up with it.

24. Practice Before You Go Live

Put together your webinar slides, write your script, rehearse it, and rehearse it again. And after all, that has been done, go through the full webinar on the webinar platform you intend you use. This will help you realize if there are any unexpected issues that you need to know about ahead of time.

25. Send Them More Content Afterwards

You know that bonus content we talked about with the handout concept earlier? Put together something more, and send it to your audience afterward. If you have their emails and they have given you permission to email them information, this is a great opportunity to follow up your webinar with more valuable content, and a call to action once more.

Alternative Ways: Consider Paid Webinars

A lot of times, webinars are used as free content to market yourself and your ideas, products, or services. You give away free value in hopes of attracting new customers. This doesn’t have to be the only option.

If your brand is strong enough, you could consider doing paid webinars.

If you put together your webinar content so that it feels like its own product (and not a subtle way of selling something else), you could sell that as a standalone item.

Final Thoughts

Webinars are becoming more and more popular these days, and with no stop in sight, you might as well get on board, right?

I’ve tried to collect all of what I’ve learned about webinars and presentations over the years, and condense it down to this article so that you have actionable advice for your next webinar. I hope it’s of value to you.

First appeared here.

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