The recent announcement that the UK economy is officially in recession has put businesses of all sizes on edge, fearing for their survival. Routine business activities are being put on hold and as a result fewer meetings, seminars and conferences are taking place, as companies look to streamline budgets.
But businesses should beware: engaging with prospects and marketing products and services to generate new opportunities and revenue streams becomes even more critical in times like these. And networking with industry peers can offer an invaluable way to gain insights on how best to overcome the challenges of the current economic climate.
But at a time when travel and marketing budgets are being cut, how can businesses realistically meet, present and engage with a large audience at the same time?
An increasingly popular approach is through webinars and webcasts - presentations, lectures, workshops or seminars which are transmitted over the internet. Some companies have recognised that they are a viable and effective alternative to large scale events which benefit businesses and participants alike.Their interactive nature enables people to give, receive and discuss information in real time, while saving money on venues, catering and travel arrangements.
Below are some Webinar Best Practices that ensure that the objectives of the webinar are fully met:
1. Planning – As well as planning your objectives of the webinar in advance you must account for the People have busy schedules and give attendees enough time to plan their schedules around your event. Avoid holding your webinar at lunch time or close to the end of the day, as it’s likely your target participants will not be in the office or will be wrapping up and keen to get home.
2. Promote the webinar widely – Invite potential attendees well in advance, so they can include it in their calendar – giving them at least three weeks’ notice. Send them a webinar description, letting them know who the webinar is intended for and what it will offer them. And don’t forget to follow up with reminders nearer the time, so it doesn’t fall off their radar. The use of partners, social media such as twitter and LinkedIn are good ways to promote webinars.
3. Choose your webinar solution/provider carefully – Take time to assess webinar tools and services and opt for the one you feel will allow you to run a professional webinar. Also keep your participants in mind when you are making your choice - the best webinar providers and services will insert a meeting in the participant’s Outlook calendar with the click of a button, so you won’t lose any attendees because they were too busy to remember to join! Good webinar services and providers allow for full branding of the whole process.
4. Make sure that you know how the whole webinar process works – Give yourself time to ensure you know the webinar software or service well. For the participants, there is nothing worse than a presenter who does not use the webinar software correctly. Good webinar providers will help in webinar practice sessions to make sure the experience is good.
5. Reporting – Keep track of all people invited and registered to attend the webinar and those who are planning to attend. Plan your presentation by studying your audience and finding information that will be useful to them to ensure you deliver content that is highly relevant. Also make sure your webinar provider can give you full reports on not just invitations and registrations, but viewer reports of your live and on demand(recorded) webinars.
6. Make an agenda – Webinar participants want to get something valuable out of their participation, so make sure there is a clear agenda ahead of the webinar so they know who will be presenting, what will be covered and how long it will last. This will also allow them to prepare questions in advance.
7. Prepare Compelling Content – During a webinar, eye contact is not typically an option so the content presented becomes more important. Webinars rely on audio and visuals to engage the audience so avoid using slides with too much text and opt for interesting pictures or webcasts, such as screen grabs, graphs, high quality photos or video testimonials.
8. Keep your audience engaged – By conducting polls and surveys during the webinar you can keep your audience interested in the presentation and allow them to express their views. In return, you will be able to gather opinions and feedback in real-time. When you have reached the end of the presentation, make some time for a Q&A, which will make your webinar even more engaging and informative. And remember that webcasting should be treated like face-to-face presentations and not a conference call, so practice to ensure you get across plenty of energy and presence, making a positive and lasting impact.
9. Record the webinar – By recording the webinar, you can make it available to those who couldn’t attend or would like to listen again – useful as some reports say that four times as many people choose to view a webinar at their own convenience. You could also use the recorded webinar in a post event e-mail marketing campaign, linking to a recording on your website through a webinar channel.
10. Branding – Many webinar providers focus on providing a very standard set of tools to many clients because it easier to manage. However, your branding is a vitally important part of the process so check to see how much branding your provider gives you in the email and registration process, live webinar and on demand webinar viewer auditoriums.
11. Follow up – Always contact attendees after the webinar to thank them for their participation and give them the opportunity to provide valuable feedback. Also communicate with those who signed up for the webinar but could not attend by letting them know that the recorded webinar is available to be viewed online, on-demand. This also offers a great way to promote other webinars or webcast recordings that may be of interest.