Would you like to organise an event to promote your business but are a bit daunted at the potential costs? Choosing to host a virtual event can provide many of the benefits without the overheads.
A webinar can also be more convenient for your attendees – meaning they don’t have to leave their desks. What’s more, participants still have the option to get involved and ask questions and might even feel more confident to do so, without the necessity to put up their hands and talk into a microphone.
Follow these 9 steps to find out how to organise a webinar and start planning your first online event today:
Step 1. Decide on a webinar topic
The nature of your business will dictate the subject matter of your webinar – so if you’re a supplier of franking machines, your topic will be related to office management, or if you sell wine box subscriptions, your topic will be related to wine.
However, the trickier bit is coming up with a specific area to focus on that will sufficiently interest your target customers. You might already have a good feel for this based on the feedback and FAQs you receive – What do customers want to learn more about? Where are their knowledge gaps? What expertise can you share that will be useful to them?
A great tool for helping you brainstorm ideas is Answer the Public, which shows you the questions people most frequently ask search engines on any given topic. So, if we enter the term ‘wine’, we are presented with all sorts of ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘which’ and ‘how’ questions that people have asked in relation to wine.
Looking at the results below, we see that lots of people enquire about wines to go with different foods so you might choose to do a webinar on selecting the right wine to compliment your dinner party menu. Or, if you want to go a bit more niche, you might be inspired by the question, ‘Which wine is healthier?’ to put on a talk on enjoying wine as part of a healthy lifestyle. Your existing knowledge of your customers should help guide what will be of most interest to them.
Step 2. Choose your webinar format
There are various format options when you organise a webinar that can be tailored according to your aims and aspirations for the event and your confidence as a presenter. Do you want to provide a highly interactive experience for a small group or give a talk to a larger crowd? Can you handle hosting the event all by yourself or would you rather bounce off fellow speakers?
If you think you might get stage fright giving a solo presentation, you could consider an interview style format, where a colleague quizzes you, or you could compile a small panel of experts to discuss the topic and answer participant questions.
If several people are involved it’s helpful to also have a moderator to lead the proceedings and filter participant questions. Having a dedicated individual to handle the technical side of managing the webinar while you’re talking can also help you to focus.
Step 3. Create your content
Now you’ve got the subject matter and the format nailed down you need to create the webinar content. This could be as simple as writing down a list of items you will discuss, but for a webinar to be really successful some time should be dedicated to creating supporting visuals.
It’s easy for participants’ attention to slip when they’re just watching a talking head (and they know you can’t see them!). Design some slides to bring your talk to life – include pictures, graphics, graphs, charts and stats. You might also like to carry out live demos or showcase products to keep it visually interesting.
Think about how long you want your webinar to last and plan the duration of each segment. You’ll need to keep your eye on the clock to ensure you don’t run over. You might want to incorporate time to answer participants’ questions after each agenda item or alternatively, schedule a Q&A session at the end.
Step 4. Pick a webinar platform
There are many different webinar platforms on the market, including free options like Skype and Google+ Hangout. When choosing, factors to look at include:
- Number of participants it can accommodate
- The ability to change between speakers easily
- Ability for participants to ask questions
- Screen sharing functionality
- Slide sharing functionality
- Recording functionality
Google+ Hangout can enable you to livestream your event in minutes. It has a live chat facility and can automatically publish a recording of your webinar to your YouTube channel afterwards, all at zero cost, making it a great option for first time webinar organisers. Find out how to get started.
Step 5. Select a date and time
The optimum date and time for your webinar will depend on whether your business is B2C or B2B. If you’re targeting other businesses, then something during the working day might be appropriate, but for consumers, an evening or weekend will likely be best.
Either way, pick a date sufficiently in the future to give people a chance to fix it in their diaries and time for you to promote the webinar (at least two weeks). Be sure to steer clear of any public holidays or other events, which your target audience might be attending.
If you think you will be able to generate enough interest for your webinar, you could choose to repeat it several times. That way you would be able to offer attendees a choice of times and dates.
Step 6. Promote your webinar
Setting up a dedicated event page and processing registrations online will help you both promote and manage your webinar. You can still enjoy all the benefits of Eventbrite for free events, including an SEO optimised event listing to help increase your exposure.
Eventbrite also has smooth integration with social media sites such as Facebook to assist easy cross-platform promotion. Meanwhile, if you have a database of customer email addresses, you can upload it and send them all invitations with a click.
When you write your event description, include the agenda of items to be discussed to make it clear what your participants will learn. It’s important they don’t just think it’s an opportunity for you to sell to them. Don’t forget to mention the chance for them to have their burning questions answered.
For free events you should factor in a 50% dropout rate, so aim to sign up more people than the minimum you need. If there is sufficient educational content in your webinar, there’s no reason you couldn’t charge a fee to attend. Charging for tickets, even if it’s a nominal fee, will help ensure a more serious and committed audience.
Step 7. Run your webinar
To make sure all goes well on the day, schedule a practice session where you can familiarise yourself with the technology and run through your talk and presentation. Do a sound test with your computer’s microphone – it might be necessary to wear an external one so everyone can hear you clearly.
Make sure you understand where the participant questions will come in and whether they will be visible to the other participants – if so, do they need moderating? It’s important to encourage participation, so have a few questions in reserve that you can read out and answer to get the ball rolling.
Step 8. Analyse your data
Review the list of participants (visible in the webinar software) and cross reference these against the attendee list in your Eventbrite dashboard so you can see who actually attended. You’ll then be able to pull each participant’s contact details and any other information you requested at registration, such as company name.
Copy questions that were asked during the session into a spreadsheet, against the details of the individual who asked it. This will enable you to make a personalised follow-up.
Step 9. Follow up
Depending on the numbers that attended your webinar, try to follow up personally with each participant. If they asked a question during the webinar, you can thank them for doing so and check they received an adequate answer. Ask them if there’s anything else they’d like to know.
If they didn’t ask a question, find out if there’s anything they’d like to ask now they’ve had a chance to digest the webinar’s content. For those who registered but didn’t attend, say you were sorry they couldn’t make it, explain what they missed and then give them the option to view a recording of the webinar (or attend a future session). You can even offer to personally answer any questions.
You can also consider thanking people for their attendance by sending out a special offer or discount exclusively for them, further increasing the chance they’ll convert.