Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot about what makes webinars successful and, more importantly, unsuccessful. After producing, organizing, moderating, and speaking at over 50 live events, I’ve learned a few things about the process and thought I’d share some of those tips with you.
Most of what I’m going to share is about the production of webinars and online events. Given that we will be doing this for the near future, it is critical that we deliver better quality content. Here’s what I’ve discovered.
1. Webinar Platforms
2. It’s 2021!
We are no longer in 2020, and we have had ample time to plan for the situation we are in. Webinars should be more like TV shows than mere online meetings.
3. The New Normal TV Show
Webinars are beginning to resemble TV shows in 2021. Improving the quality of your live event requires the purchase of a good camera, a video mixer such as the ATEM Mini Pro ISO, and a good sound mixer such as the RODE Procaster.
4. Webcam Upgrade
A laptop’s built-in webcam isn’t the only camera a guest may use. External webcams often perform better and allow for better positioning. Some incredible products are now available on the market, including the Mevo Start Camera, Logitech c922 Pro HD Steam Webcam, and Logitech PTZ Pro 2.
5. Screen Sharing
While screen sharing is a fantastic function, it always results in attendees looking at a static slide with a very tiny video of the speaker in the corner. Just share your screen when necessary, and be innovative by using apps such as mmhmm or the ATEM Mini product line.
6. Avoid WiFi
When running a webinar, WiFi is unreliable. When broadcasting video, the upload speed of your internet connection is critical. Try to use a wired internet connection wherever possible, and invite your guests to do the same.
Although Bluetooth headphones are great, your guest should have a wired backup solution tested and ready to go.
8. Live Interaction
When you use the Q&A Section on a Zoom Webinar, you can see the questions that are being submitted privately. Alternatively, use the chat to have a live and free-flowing conversation during your presentation. For more interactivity try services like Menti.com or Kahoot!
9. Recording the webinar
If you’re going to record your webinar, don’t announce it too early. FOMO is the principle that motivates people to join a webinar. Ensure that you have the permission of the guests to record the event ahead of time.
10. Suit up
Dress properly if you are a guest or host. It’s weird seeing three panelists dressed in corporate attire and one in a t-shirt.
11. Virtual backgrounds suck!!!
Someone had to say it, and I suppose it’ll be me. It’s not fun to see a speaker’s ear cut off or fingers missing when they move their hands in front of the camera. Invest in curating and building a background that reflects your unique personality. Check out Room Rater on Twitter to see how important this is.
12. Mute and Unmute
As a guest speaker or panelist, be an attentive listener and unmute yourself proactively when it is your turn to talk. We’re sick of hearing, “I guess you’re on mute…unmute yourself.”
13. Number of Panelists
Having fewer panelists allows the moderator to elicit more information from the guests. If there are too many panelists, the moderator is simply attempting to ensure that each person is asked a question so that they do not feel left out.
Begin on time and finish on time. There is nothing more to it.
15. The Backup Plan
It is important to test the setup. Make a back-up plan. Prepare for computer and network problems, guests that do not turn up, and even inclement weather. What would you do if you or a guest are disconnected? What would you do if the host’s machine chooses to freeze for no apparent reason? What would you do if your presentation does not open or if the screen sharing does not work? Make a plan.
16. The Dress Rehearsal
Try to gather all of your guests a few days before the event to go over the show flow. This dress rehearsal will help you understand where you will encounter difficulties and what you may need to plan for.
17. Pre-broadcast Testing
Make each of your guests talk and test their video and audio before you begin broadcasting your webinar. Keep a look out for background sounds and echoes.
18. Signing up is easier than attending
Start the registration process a few weeks before the event. Know that slightly more than half of those who register will not attend. However, the fact that they have registered allows you to contact them after the event.
19. Planning and Research
Planning is important for the success of every webinar. Prepare as if you were going on a live television show for an hour. Take it seriously.
20. The Questions Round
It takes some time for most people to warm up and begin asking questions. Whether you’re hosting or moderating, have a few questions ready to get the conversation underway.
21. Do Not Disturb
Ensure that the speakers’ phones are set to – ‘Do Not Disturb’ and that the room in which they are located is either locked or has a sign posted instructing others not to disturb them.
22. Restarting Solves many of the world’s problems
Request that all of the guests restart their machines at least 30 minutes before the event begins. Open the webinar application at least an hour before the event to see if any updates need to be installed. You don’t want to be minutes away from a live broadcast and have to upgrade your software.
23. Lights! Camera! Action!
Lighting is crucial in video production. Invest in a basic ring light from Amazon and you’ll be ready for most live events and the occasional makeup tutorial.
24. Hire a Pro
Hire a specialist to assist you in producing a webinar. You don’t have to be an expert in every field. The less you have to think about, the more you can focus on marketing and putting on a fantastic show.
25. Increase Sign-ups
Invest in advertising to ensure you have signups for your webinar. It takes time for a campaign to yield results so don’t run your promotions for just two days. Leverage your existing database to lower acquisition costs.