How to create a webinar: tips on preparation, marketing, and presentation
Lots of companies and organizations use webinars, whether it’s for their own in-house training needs, to offer external training courses, or to win new customers. The advantage of webinars is that they are cost-efficient and can be set up using very few resources. With the right preparation, even a beginner can create a webinar. And thanks to the top tips in this guide, you can be sure your webinar will look professional and be a success.
- When and why are webinars used?
- Live vs. prerecorded: the pros and cons
- How do you create a webinar presentation?
- The best way to structure a webinar
- Marketing a webinar
- How to ensure your webinar is a success
When and why are webinars used?
Webinars are designed to be educational, which is why they are primarily used for further education courses and in-house training sessions. Lots of companies also use webinars in the same way they use blog posts, i.e. as an inbound marketing tool as part of their content marketing strategy. To understand how webinars can be used to achieve traditional marketing goals, consider the following three examples:
- Lead generation: When participants register for the webinar, ask them to provide their email address or other contact details.
- Conversions: You can use webinars to share information on topics related to your products or services, so they become a way of increasing your target audience and convincing people of the value of your offer.
- Community building: Through webinars you can interact directly with your community and answer questions directly. They can also be an opportunity to find out more about the wishes and expectations of your target group.
Whether you charge a fee for your webinar or make it available free of charge will depend on the goals you’ve defined.
Live vs. prerecorded: the pros and cons
Before you start creating your webinar, think about whether you want it to be live or prerecorded. Prerecorded webinars are easier to scale and to some extent still have a “live” feel to them, but you won’t be able to interact with your audience like you can during live sessions. We’ve summarized the advantages and disadvantages of each format to help you choose:
Giving a session in real time lets you take advantage of the interactive nature of webinars. Thanks to webinar tools, you can incorporate live chats, Q&A sessions, discussions, surveys, and short tests into your webinar to get your audience involved. The fact that you’re actually online yourself also gives your webinar a personal touch, which helps establish a closer relationship with your audience.
The tricky aspect of doing a live webinar is time management – you never know quite how much the participants are going to interact during the session. When planning a live webinar, it’s therefore important to plan in enough time for the interactive parts.
|✔ Direct interaction and contact with participants||✘ Time management is more difficult|
|✔ Development of trust through personal relationship||✘ Scheduling constraints (you have to be present)|
|✔ Possibility of adapting the session to the needs and wishes of your audience||✘ Risk of technical problems|
|✔ Direct feedback|
Because you can schedule them to run automatically and don’t need to be present yourself, prerecorded webinars are easier to scale up. This format is, therefore, particularly suited to paid webinars, because if somebody has paid to take part in your webinar, they’ll automatically be given access.
|✔ No scheduling constraints||✘ Impersonal|
|✔ Automation and scalability||✘ No interaction|
You don’t necessarily have to say that the webinar will be prerecorded. Just make sure that you don’t give a false impression by saying your webinar will be live when it won’t.
How do you create a webinar presentation?
The purpose of a webinar is to share knowledge and useful information. To ensure your webinar is effective, you need to do your research and make sure that you carefully prepare and organize the content. We’ve put together a list of questions to help you prepare and create an interesting webinar that’s easy for your audience to follow.
Save time and resources by recycling content. This means taking content from any e-books, blogs, or other sources you already have, and using it to create a webinar.
Who is your target audience?
Start by thinking about who you want to address. Identify a problem that your target audience regularly has to deal with and that you can discuss and resolve in your webinar. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to market your webinar to catch the attention of your target audience. See “Marketing a webinar” below for more tips.
What is the aim of your webinar?
Define your objectives: Why are you creating this webinar? More often than not, it will be to share information. But you might also be creating a webinar for marketing purposes, for example to generate leads, increase conversions, or improve customer retention.
What’s the topic of your webinar?
Adapt your topic to your aims and your target audience – not the other way around! When preparing your content, think about the level of knowledge of your attendees, and if possible provide additional materials such as pictures, checklists or posters.
Offering additional materials as downloads is a good idea because this will reinforce your connection with your audience and increase the chances of your materials being used after the session too.
What format will the webinar be in?
As we’ve already seen, you need to decide whether you’re going to do a live webinar or broadcast a prerecorded session. This will help you choose a suitable webinar platform. And even if you decide on a live webinar, it’s a good idea to record it too. That way, you can make it available as an on-demand webinar at some point in the future.
Do you have everything you need?
To create a webinar you’ll need a webinar creation program, a stable internet connection (minimum bandwidth 16 Mbit/s), and the necessary hardware. Most computers and laptops these days have a built-in microphone, but you may still want to use an external headset to reduce background noise and improve the quality of your webinar. It’s also advisable to use a camera or webcam to help build up a rapport with your audience – people like to see who’s talking to them. Finally, if people are paying to attend your webinar or it’s important that you convey a professional image, it’s worth investing in proper lighting equipment and a background screen.
For more webinar creation tips, take a look at this video guide on how to do a webinar:
The best way to structure a webinar
There’s not one right way to structure a webinar. The format is flexible, so feel free to organize your webinar however you think is best – just remember to keep your defined objectives in mind at all times. And of course, the clearer the structure of your presentation, the more likely it is your audience will understand and absorb what you say.
Before you get started, greet your audience and give a brief summary of what you’re going to cover. Make it clear how the participants will benefit from the webinar. Introduce yourself and use this opportunity to showcase your expertise on the topic in question.
After the introduction, you’re ready to begin the actual presentation. The structures set out below are all tried-and-tested formulas, but you can mix and match them as you see fit.
You give your presentation, then at the end of the webinar the participants have an opportunity to ask questions or discuss the topic further.
In this format, you alternate between presentation mode and discussion mode. This allows your audience to respond to specific points while they’re still fresh in their minds, so it can be a good choice for webinars on complex topics.
With this approach, there is no presentation. Instead, you and the other participants develop the content together.
Question and answer
Webinars can also be set up as question and answer sessions to allow people to ask you – and/or other experts – questions on a specific topic.
At the end of the webinar, take a moment to present your product or service, and give your audience a chance to ask final questions.
Marketing a webinar
To spread the word about your webinar you can use your existing marketing channels, or explore new ways of reaching your target audience. The sections that follow give an overview of four popular marketing channels for webinars.
Tell your newsletter subscribers about your webinar, or use a webinar as a way of increasing your subscription base and reaching a wider audience. To do this, you’ll need to ask attendees to provide their email address when they sign up for the webinar.
The day before the webinar, send a reminder to everyone that registered to reduce the risk of people not turning up.
Website: landing page and pop-ups
Advertise your webinar on your website and create one or more landing pages. Using pop-ups is another good way of telling visitors to your site about your webinar. If you’ve got a blog, that’s another ready-made marketing channel you can use.
Social media: posts and event pages
Share posts about your webinar or create an event page on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Xing, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google My Business. Make sure that you include a direct link to the landing page for the webinar.
Adverts, press, and partnerships
Set up adverts with Google Ads and other sites or advertise your webinar in the press. Sponsoring and partnerships can help you reach a much wider audience.
Host a free webinar as a means of drawing attention to other paid courses you offer.
How to ensure your webinar is a success
Now that you know how to create a webinar presentation and what equipment you’ll need, we’ll leave you with some pointers on how to ensure your webinar is a success.
Try out the software
Familiarize yourself with the webinar software in advance so that you can avoid or resolve problems quickly during the presentation.
Get some support
During live webinars, it’s difficult to keep an eye on the chat box at the same time as giving your presentation. One way to overcome this problem is to ask a colleague to assist. They can answer questions from participants directly, or forward them to you in batches. If you want to do this, make sure that you choose a webinar tool that supports multiple moderators.
Prepare your work area
Make sure that your work area is set up so that you feel comfortable while giving the webinar. Remember that your audience will see and hear anything that’s going on around you. Check for background noises and make sure that there’s nothing in the background that may distract from you and your presentation.
Switch off all your notifications and close down programs you’re not using to avoid unwanted disruptions. If you’re planning to share your screen, you might want to hide any personal items on your desktop.
Give people the necessary information
When you announce your webinar, remember to give people all the important information, such as the date, time, and duration of the webinar and the registration options.
Host a free webinar
New customers are often hesitant to sign up for paid webinars. By offering free content you can build up trust and then point people to your paid services later on. Even with free webinars, it’s a good idea to make things as easy as possible for potential viewers, for example:
- Run the same webinar at several different times
- Clearly and concisely explain what participants will learn or gain by watching the webinar
- Make the registration process as straightforward as possible
When you give a paid webinar, offer additional incentives to help win new clients:
- Discounts: Provide a discount or offer more content for the same price. Put a time limit on the offer to make it more attractive.
- Offer other services: Include extra services such as a free personal consultation, an e-book, or access to a podcast.
- Guarantees: Offer participants a quality or money-back guarantee. Also make sure that you include examples of positive feedback or evaluations from customers.
- Personal consultation: Even before you give the webinar, allow people to contact you for support by phone or email.