Along with the white paper, the Webinar has become a major B2B content-based lead-generation tool, whether produced by your company or sponsored by a business partner. Dozens of elements help you deliver a great experience for attendees and high ROI for you.
In my Industry Relations role at Silverpop, I've presented or moderated roughly 30 Webinars over the last 18 months and learned a lot about what works and doesn't work with Webinars. I'm also still making mistakes, learning and hopefully improving in many areas.
In Part 1, I'll cover the lessons I've learned about preparing for the Webinar. Part 2 will cover what I've learned during and after the Webinar.
Lessons Learned: Preparation
1. Prepare for the unexpected. I've done Webinars without Internet access, having the wrong slides uploaded and on two hours of sleep. Make sure someone else on your team has the slide deck. Print out your slides. Have a cell phone as backup phone. Create other safety nets.
2. Be flexible with format. While it is great to have a standard approach to your Webinars, being flexible with length (e.g., 30 versus 60 minutes), content, etc., increases attendee satisfaction.
I've discovered that people love shorter 30-minute Webinars, but some subjects require a full hour. Attendees are disappointed if you don't delve deeply enough into those topics that demand it.
3. Manage expectations. I take Webinar feedback very seriously and read every comment. The negative comments tend to be those where the attendee was expecting (or merely wanted) something different from what you presented.
As a result, I'm paying much more attention to managing expectations upfront trying to ensure a good fit between attendees and topic. When possible, include the following in your Webinar description:
a. Duration of Webinar, including Q&A
b. Job function or level targeted
c. Industry(ies) focus (if applicable)
d. Level of content (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
Regardless, I've discovered that most registrants apparently don't read the description very closely. So, make sure your title is not misleading.
4. Target an audience persona. Regardless of your topic and how you positioned it (e.g., "Beginner"), you will have attendees ranging from newbies to people who may know as much or more than you. Try to have a little something for everyone in your presentation, but your main focus should be on a persona of your primary target audience.
5. Cut some slides. Maybe you don't have this problem, but I frequently seem to prepare too many slides. If in doubt, cut the "iffy" slides and move them to after the Q&A slide. That way, you can refer to them during the Q&A if the subject comes up.
6. Fewer bullets, more images and graphics. Attendees want to hear your expert commentary, opinions and insight, not read a bunch of bulleted text on a slide.
Support your verbal points with illustrations: photographs, charts and screenshots. Obviously, some points can only be made with bulleted-type text, but try to keep them to a minimum or spice them up with color, boxes, etc. - using PowerPoint's SmartArt Graphics, for example.
7. Leave the sparkling water behind. The carbonation in sparkling water might help you win a belching contest with college buddies, but choose regular water for your Webinars. I made this mistake only once. (No, I didn't actually belch on the Webinar.)
Part two of this blog series will look at some tips to apply during and after your Webinar presentation.