How to Plan a Successful Webinar

While Webinars are a hot tool for conducting cost-effective training sessions and presentations, like anything, a little advanced planning is required to ensure it goes smoothly.

Note: In this article we will not address the technological tools like GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, Webex, etc. but instead the presentation options. That will make this article applicable regardless of what tool you choose to use. Let’s get started…

Determine if you need a Webinar

Before you start, decide if a Webinar is the best choice for your needs. Some of the factors you need to consider include the audience and the topic. Certain topics just don’t translate well into an online format. A daylong seminar on the company’s best practices might not hold people’s interest for long. People have short attention spans in general and when learning online, their attention span shrinks to about two hours (if not less!). Keeping that in mind, you might want to break up the sections into small chunks of time, or even space the presentation out over a few days.

Make it Interesting

If you move forward with hosting a Webinar, make sure the agenda is interesting and lively. A boring agenda equals a boring presentation and that can translate to lost sales. You might consider engaging an industry expert, a customer, or even an industry guru. Each can inject life into your presentation. Also, make it visual. Diagrams, pictures, even live demos can keep the material dynamic and fresh.

Decide the Format

Popular formats you might consider for your Webinar include a singular speaker, an interview style, a moderated panel, and interactivity. There are pros and cons associated with each and it’s up to you to choose which one will work best, based on your topic and participants. For example, if you go with a single presenter, participants can benefit from their expertise, but may feel intimidated and not ask questions. On the other hand, a moderated panel offers multiple points of view. But without a skilled moderator, a panel can quickly descend into chaos.

Get the Word Out

It’s popularly said that, “If you build it, they will come.” Well, not necessarily. If you don’t tell people about your Webinar, they won’t know about the opportunity to participate. And if you don’t effectively “sell” them on the benefits of participation, they won’t join in – particularly if you plan to charge them. So, send out your information ahead of time. Develop an eye-catching and exciting program description, and make sure you target it to the right audience. Places you might promote your event include your Web site, social networking sites, in newsletters (your own and other’s), and via online event calendars.

Following these simple tips will create a successful event for yourself and your attendees.

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