Webinars: suddenly, it seems like everybody’s a pro at hosting them. If you’re new to the whole idea of online events, it can all be a bit intimidating, especially if you have a whole lot of newbie questions that you feel embarrassed to even ask.
Don’t worry, our beginners’ guide to hosting webinars has got you covered. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about getting started in the world of online events.
You definitely don’t need to be a tech whizz to start hosting webinars: in fact, even if you’re a technophobe who’s only just figured out how to use the mute/unmute button on Zoom, you’ll find it’s surprisingly easy to start hosting webinars.
If 2020 was the year the entire world started working and socialising online, 2021 has been the year that online events and webinars started to feel like the norm. And even as ‘real world’ events start to open up again, statistics show that webinars are here to stay. The good news for non-techy types is that increased demand for user-friendly software means that webinar-hosting tools are easier to get to grips with (and easier on the wallet) than ever before.
Perhaps you’ve been asked to run a webinar for work purposes, and are floundering over where to begin, or perhaps you’ve already got a strong social media presence and solid follower/subscriber figures, but feel like you’ve missed the memo when it comes to webinars. Whatever your current situation, here’s your beginner’s guide to webinars.
What Is a Webinar?
Even if you’ve never attended a webinar, chances are that you’ve grasped the notion that the term relates to some type of web conference. In fact, as the name suggests, a webinar is an online seminar, which allows one or more speakers to address online attendees anywhere around the world. The events can be transmitted in real-time, but many are designed to be evergreen events that can be viewed online long after the live transmission.
If an online seminar sounds like a dry, academic affair, rest assured that this is rarely the case. While many universities and colleges have indeed taken their classes online during the pandemic, webinars are used by everybody from big businesses to sports stars and celebrities looking to boost their brand. To whet your appetite for getting started with webinar hosting, take a look at this round-up of some of the best webinars of 2021 so far (all free to stream). Once you’ve got a taste for what you can do in a webinar, it’s time to think about what you want to use it for – a necessity for work? An income-generator? Boosting your brand? Ultimately, your reason for hosting a webinar will impact the type of tools you want to use. This brings us to the next question in our webinar 101…
What Type of Webinar do I Want to Host?
Hosting webinars for beginners can be a simple process once you have a clear idea of the type of event you want to host, and the audience you wish to reach.
Setting your priorities
Before you commit to anything, ask yourself what is the ultimate goal of your online event?
That will determine the type of your webinar. Here are some common options:
1) Marketing webinar
Marketers love webinars, not least because they are a cost-effective way to engage with an audience. Stats show that marketing webinars tend to be most popular when there is an element of interaction, eg a Q&A session. Marketing webinars have soared in popularity in the last few years and can be a good way for marketers to stamp their personality on a campaign since they bring an incredible return on investment. 2) Sales webinar
If marketing webinars are about raising awareness and improving brand recognition, sales webinars are all about closing the deal. Whether you’re selling properties or soft drinks, or even your own handmade accessories or your services as an online life coach. if you’ve got a good offer for your audience, a sales webinar can help you showcase it in the best light. Of course, if you want to make good sales numbers, you’ll need a good number of attendees: this post has useful tips for attracting people to your webinar.
3) Meeting webinar
Such webinars are common in a business environment, where good communication and networking are crucial. With fewer attendees than webinars in the public sphere, these can often be hosted on user-friendly platforms such as MyOwnConference.
4) Training webinar
Remote working has made online training a necessity for many companies, and training webinars can also be a good opportunity for employee-employer interaction that may be lacking in the remote working environment.
Finding partners and presenters
Once you’ve nailed your niche, you might want to consider teaming up with like-minded individuals to boost the reach of your webinar. If your aim is to host a small-scale workplace webinar, you might want to speak with others in the company who can share hosting duties. If you are hosting a marketing or sales webinar, chances are that you will want to bring in a known online name that can swell the numbers of attendees and lend credibility to your brand.
Here are just some things you can try:
- Invite them as co-presenter. This strategy is a win-win for both of you since you get to preach to each other’s audiences.
- Engage in affiliate marketing. Ask your partner to advertise your product/service to their viewers for commission.
- Write guest posts. Create an exciting blog post to be published on their website with a link to your site.
If you’re not a big name and don’t have huge numbers of followers online, you may get a lot of denials at first. Just don’t get discouraged and make sure your offer is clear, and genuinely beneficial both for you and for your potential partner.
Which Webinar Software Should I Use?
This is where people starting out in webinars can start to flounder: figuring out what software you need and how much it will cost can seem a daunting task. But it needn’t be. MyOwnConference webinars are user friendly for hosts and attendees alike.
The software you need really depends on the type of webinar you want to host. Webinar technology is advancing all the time – look at what makes other webinars in your field successful and then look for tech that will allow you to incorporate these techniques into your own webinar. Slides, for example, are a major focus in many business and sales, webinars, so look for user-friendly software that allows you to incorporate these. If you are running marketing webinars with multiple hosts and a strong visual element, you may want to look into higher quality cameras and microphones.
‘Beginner’s guide to scheduling a webinar
Stats show that most people sign up for a webinar around eight days in advance, but you’ll want to spread the news about your online event well before. Expert webinar hosts say that Thursdays tend to be the best time to host a webinar, in terms of attendance figures. Be sure to work around the time zones of your TA (target audience) – if you are in London but you want to reach an audience in the United States, you might have to host late in the evening as the UK is 5-8 hours ahead of most US cities. a good idea to schedule your webinar about a month in advance. Once you have set the exact date and time of your event, you will be less likely to procrastinate or give up on the idea altogether.
Promoting a webinar if you are are beginner
If your aim is marketing or making a profit from attendance fees, promotion is absolutely key to your webinar’s success: start shouting about it from the virtual rooftops at least two weeks in advance, this is not the time to hide your light. Contact any influential friends and followers and ask them to help spread the word, and make sure you plug it on all your available social media. Send the sign-up links to everybody on your marketing mailing list. But avoid spamming people – too much promotion can backfire badly, there is such a thing as overkill. Utilize all tools for webinar promotion: your website, blog, social networks, word of mouth. Incorporate Instagram posts, Youtube videos, Facebook shoutouts: – do not be stuck on one type of content. Your promotional strategy should include versatile elements if you want to attract a diverse audience.
For example, Pixlee published webinar anons on Facebook and then sent a newsletter. (And if you need help crafting the perfect email invite, check out this link)
Writing a Script
No matter how good you are at quick-witted responses and improvised chat, a webinar script is a must for any successful online event. Don’t be tempted to skip it! And if you have co-hosts, make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to who is saying what, and when they will be saying it. You don’t want five people making the same point or talking over each other. Adjust the tone to your target audience: Do you want to be witty and irreverent for a young, sassy market? Or serious and to-the-point for a business presentation? Try to bring your own USP (unique selling point) to the fore. If you’re naturally shy, own up to this and you’re likely to get your audience on your side. If it’s your first webinar, again, let your audience in on the fact, it helps to be seen as human rather than just a cog in the corporate wheel!
Try to let your personality shine, without taking the spotlight away from your main point of focus. And if it helps with your webinar for beginners, have practice run-throughs with friends and family. Ask for feedback and incorporate this before the live event.
By this point, you must already have an outline with the title and major points. Now you just need to sit down and elaborate on everything in more detail.
Never disregard this step. It is not enough to have a bullet list. You must write everything down just as if it was a college paper.
The primary reason for this thorough preparation is the time limitations. You may think you can explain the point in 5 minutes, but once you pin it all down, it can turn out to be 10 minutes.
In this case, you will need to cut corners, shorten the sentences, maybe exclude some of the minor ideas. Perhaps, with a little bit of repetition, you will learn to speak faster; however, you must remain intelligible.
What is more, you need to coordinate your speech with the slides. Make sure to have only one point per slide if you care about your viewers’ comprehension.
If you have co-presenters, ask them to review your script and provide criticism. Do the same for them: you are a team, after all.
During the Webinar
Log in at least an hour in advance to make sure everything works just fine.
During a webinar, try to look directly into the camera for a more personal connection.
If you have an open event and a live chat function, be sure that you know how to moderate the chat (or delegate this task to somebody else) and to block any negative comments.
If you are not sure you can handle so many things at once, it’s a good idea to have a moderator on site. If delegating, take some time to speak to the moderator about how the tech works, and ensure they have a clear idea about what would constitute an inappropriate and ban-worthy comment. Try to relax and improvise a little. Even if you know the script by heart, you won’t sound natural simply retelling it, unless you are some good actor. Do not be afraid to steer off course and make a joke now and then. But don’t stray away too far – try to keep the golden middle.
For a helpful guide to security during your webinar, this MyOwnConference blog post is a good read.
Many beginners to sales webinars feel really uncomfortable pitching a sale or making any other financial proposition. But the event is all about self-promotion: our tip for you is to take a deep breath and just do it.
It may be awkward at your first webinar, but it will come more naturally over time.
At the end, thank your webinar audience for their time: address the camera directly and make sure that you express how glad you are that they took the time to join your online event!
After the Webinar for Beginners
Following up on your webinar is key to sustained success.
Send out thank you emails to your mailing list, and perhaps throw in a bonus offer for those who attended – perhaps a discount on future events.
Make sure your attendees know all about future events and send links to follow up materials or anything else that might pique their interest. If you want some tips on what worked and what didn’t, try asking for feedback on your webinar.
Conclusion: How to be a winner in the world of Webinars
Congrats – you have taken the first steps towards hosting your first webinar. Now keep going! We’ve given you lots of links to background materials and webinar inspo, now’s the time to put your plan into action! Here’s a summary of the steps to take now.
- Determine the type of webinar you want to host Approach suitable partners and co-presenters, if appropriate to your event
- Think of the title and main points. Create a short outline
- Choose the right software and hardware
- Promote extensively
- Write a script and practice the delivery
- Run a webinar
- Follow-up with a thank-you email and more offers
And remember: all those highly successful webinar hosts had to start out somewhere!