Setting up a webinar in 2021 is a surprisingly easy and inexpensive way to connect with your audience, generate leads, and build your brand. Still, 72% of webinars draw fewer than 50 participants. The thing is, while easy and cost-effective, great webinars can take time to prepare. But with our 12-step webinar setup, your battle is half won.
What Is a Webinar?
Let’s throw in a quick webinar definition for good measure. The word ‘webinar’ is a contraction of the words ‘web’ and ‘seminar’, which is exactly what it means: a presentation, lecture, or workshop streamed over the internet. Typically, a webinar consists of one or more experts educating their audience about a topic. The presentation is supported by multimedia material. This is usually followed by a Q&A session. It’s the live interaction that sets it apart from online videos. Webinars are also different from online meetings in that the information and knowledge come from one direction, rather than a group discussion.
Should You Produce a Webinar?
During the 2020-2021 pandemic, webinars are a great way to bridge social distancing and still connect with your audience. But you and I are not the only ones in the know. So many companies and entrepreneurs are hosting webinars these days. You can understand people have gotten very choosy about what to invest their time and attention in. Ask yourself the following three questions:
- Will the content have value for your audience?
Your webinar should solve a problem for your audience. Your audience will come if they know they’ll get something they need. Clearly defining and repeating the value of your webinar from the beginning will help you attract the right attendees.
- Will a webinar help you reach your objectives and KPIs?
You might want to promote a new product or service. Maybe you want to help your customers get more out of your product with tips? Or are you looking to improve your authority in your field? Setting your objectives and KPIs from the start will help you shape your webinar, so don’t skip this important step.
- Is there another better-suited content format?
Don’t forget you are responsible for your audience’s time. Wasting it would have a very adverse effect on your objectives. Setting up a webinar about a minor product update, for instance, would be overkill. You could send an email or develop an in-app pop-up for that. Interactivity is crucial in webinars. If your content or message doesn’t support this interactivity, then maybe you could do better with a blog post or a slot in your next newsletter.
If you can answer positively all three questions, then we highly recommend setting up a webinar online. On average 30% of webinar attendees convert into high-quality leads!
Step 1: Choose and Research a Topic for Your Webinar
First of all, your topic needs to be within your field or industry. People will want to attend your webinar if they know you’re some sort of authority within your industry. If you’re set on a topic on which you are not an authority, consider inviting a guest speaker who is an expert.
Don’t make your topic too high level or general. Home in on your topic by answering a question your audience has or by solving a specific issue they experience.
You have a few tools at your disposal that can help you with that.
You can base yourself on customer feedback (ask your helpdesk, check the comments on your website, or review your social media). You can peruse websites like Reddit or Quora for customer feedback. You can also use Google’s autocomplete, “People also ask”, and “related searches” to know what people are searching. Another great tool is Answerthepublic. Just type in a topic and find out what people are asking about it.
Step 2: Choose a Format for Your Webinar
You have five main format options in which to create a webinar. Your choice will depend on several factors: topic, expertise, personal preference, availability of relevant guest speakers, technological limitations, or your confidence to host and present a webinar online.
One expert presenter educates the audience about the topic, supported by a deck of slides or other multimedia material. If you don’t feel confident presenting (alone) you can invoke the help of another speaker or a co-host. Keep the audience engaged with polls and Q&A. Especially in the case of a single speaker.
The interview format works particularly well when you are not an expert on the topic. You can host the webinar and ask questions to a guest expert. This type of webinar also encourages the audience to chime in with their questions, making the event more engaging. Send your guest expert your questions in advance so they can properly prepare their answers.
A panel discussion involves at least two expert speakers and a moderator. This is a great format that can get very dynamic and is the best format when you want to highlight different and opposing opinions or perspectives. Be aware of the added logistics and equipment. Your webinar platform should enable multiple speakers. Or your physical studio should be large enough to accommodate all speakers with separate microphones and proper lighting.
Promoting your product is also a great opportunity for setting up a webinar. Make sure not to turn your webinar into a sales pitch. Your audience needs to get something out of it. Teach them something new. Show them how they can make their lives better with your product. Make sure to show your product on camera or to use screen sharing if your product is a software application.
Let’s be clear: each of the previous formats should include a Q&A portion. Otherwise, you might as well create an on-demand video for your audience. But you can also make your whole webinar in a Q&A format, in which your audience asks questions via your webinar software or via social media which you then pick, read, and answer in real-time.
Step 3: Put Your Team Together
Setting up a webinar is always better together. Sure, you can do it alone. But your webinar and your audience will always benefit from a joint effort between an organizer, a host/presenter, a technical assistant, panelists/ guest speakers, designers, … Especially when you’re expecting a larger audience.
The number of team members you employ, and how you delegate tasks, will depend on the size and nature of your webinar. For example, the organizer will lead the project, promote the webinar, and develop the content. They might get help from designers who’ll take care of visuals, branding, studio design, etc. Meanwhile, the host/presenter might work on the presentation and Q&A. The technical assistant will be in charge of setting up the equipment pre-webinar. He or she will have a crucial role during the webinar, ensuring that everything runs smoothly on the technical side and dealing with technical questions from the audience (e.g., “I can’t hear any sound”).
Step 4: How to Structure a Webinar?
Let’s answer another question first, “How long should a webinar be?”. There are no hard rules here. It all depends on your topic and the engagement of your audience. Most webinars run between 30 and 60 minutes. The presentation itself takes 30-45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of interaction with the audience (Q&A).
You can get creative here, but most webinars are structured as follows:
While attendees are joining you can welcome your audience. Especially if you have a smaller audience it’s great practice to acknowledge the presence of individual attendees by naming them and thanking them for joining. This engages your audience from the get-go, and they’ll be less inclined to leave in the middle.
Start by introducing yourself, your company, and your guest speakers. Introduce your topic and the issue you want to solve, tell the audience why you’re organizing a webinar around this topic, and tell them what’s in it for them. This is your webinar’s hook and your moment to inspire. Clearly state why it’s good for them to have joined the webinar and why they should stick around until the end.
This is the body of your webinar, where you deliver your presentation or discussion, illustrated with a deck of slides, polls, or other multimedia material.
This is the denouement of your webinar, where you deliver on promises made in the introduction.
This is where you fill up any holes in the attendees’ understanding and where you seize the opportunity to promote your topic or product even further, in a more personalized way. Have a few questions ready, that you collected from your social media channels in advance, or that you think might be interesting to your audience, in case your audience needs a kickstart in the Q&A.
Close your webinar with a thank you and a few words on how you’ll follow up after the webinar. Repeat your CTA one last time to buy your product, leave their email, click a link, use a voucher, or whatever your main KPI was for setting up a webinar in the first place.
Step 5: Create Content for Your Webinar
Start by giving your webinar a compelling title. The title should convey the topic to the user, and what’s in it for them (without being misleading!).
Let’s discuss how to create a webinar presentation. With every slide you create, make sure to ask yourself the questions:
- Is it engaging?
- Is it clear and simple? (1 main idea per slide)
- Is it of any use to my audience?
- Will it get me closer to my objectives?
Keep your slides, videos, and other visual support material in line with your brand. Throw in numbers, pictures, and graphs to illustrate your points. Break up your presentation with a video or a live poll/quiz to keep your audience engaged. Plan your content and presentation time for interaction with your attendees. Don’t forget that 25% of your attendees will join via their mobile device, so make sure that your font size is large enough for them to read. In any case, your slides should contain only essential information in as few words as possible.
If you know your topic like the back of your hand and you’re comfortable speaking in public, then sit back and enjoy, you rock star. Anyone else should write a clear outline of what they’ll say during their presentation. The level of detail is up to personal preference. As long as you’re comfortable talking 45 minutes.
Step 6: Choose Your Webinar Platform
What is a webinar platform? It is a platform on which you can host your webinar. You can choose among several providers such as ClickMeeting, Webinarninja, and, of course, Kaltura Webinars.
The best webinar platforms offer a few must-have features:
- Presentation tools such as an interactive whiteboard, note sharing, chat room, screen sharing, etc.
- Branding features to make your webinar space instantly recognizable for your audience, with logos, colors, images, etc.
- In-browser access to the webinar, via a dedicated URL. No installation or download required.
- Persistent webinar UI, meaning you can access it in advance or prepare the space, and you can come back later, e.g., if you host a webinar series.
- Cloud recording so you can edit and repurpose your webinar after the event.
- Webinar analytics, enabling you to assess and improve on your webinars’ performance
- Seamless integration with your existing systems.
Purchasing an account and setting up a webinar on a webinar platform is easy and straight forward. But it’s important to choose the right platform for your budget and needs. It’s not nice to open an account on a platform and find out they don’t offer the feature you require. Check their websites, read the specs, compare the prices, and make an educated choice. If it’s a tie between two platforms, you can always open a trial account with both and decide then.
Step 7: Create Your Webinar Studio
Now that your webinar is coming together nicely behind the scenes, let’s give the actual webinar stage some thought. The stage should be set in a quiet location, away from any noise and interruptions.
What equipment do you need to host a webinar? Fit the room with the necessary computer equipment, internet connection, lighting, sound, branding, decoration, and so on. We won’t geek out on the gear specifics in this article, but we recommend reading this article about the best webinar equipment for any budget.
Step 8: How to Promote Your Webinar
This is a big one. People won’t just flock to your webinar. You’re going to have to publicize and convince. Take into account that only about 36% of registrations will end up attending your webinar. Understand that 35% of your attendees will register in the week of your webinar and 29% of them will register on the day of your webinar. So you might want to intensify your promotion on those last days, and even hours leading up to your event.
- Pick the right date and time (how to schedule a webinar)
Picking the right date and time isn’t about finding an open slot in your own busy schedule. There’s a science here. According to research, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the best days to schedule a webinar, with 11 a.m. being the optimal time. Tuesdays are the best day to promote your webinar. Schedule your webinar according to your audience’s time zone(s).
- Build a landing page for registrations
First, you’ll need to create a landing page for your webinar. Your emails, banners, social posts, and other promotional efforts will link to this page. Make your landing page branded and visually attractive. Announce the topic, the speakers (illustrate their authority), and the date and time of the event. You can add a countdown clock for dramatic effect. Convince visitors by clearly stating what’s in it for them and reel them in with a nice and shiny sign-up button. Let the leads come in!
- Promote on your website
Create a webinar invitation pop-up, with the webinar title, the speakers, the time and date, CTA, and a countdown to create urgency. Top-performing pop-ups have a 9.3% conversion rate!. Reflect the pop-up in banners, for on-site promotion with a longer shelf life. Write blog posts about your upcoming webinar and mention it in your newsletters, as an item and a clickable banner.
- Promote through social and ads
Social media is an excellent way to promote your webinar online. Create a hashtag so people can talk about your webinar. Let your audience work for you by setting up a contest that people can participate in by posting on their social media using your webinar’s hashtag. Post regularly about your upcoming webinar on your social channels, start two weeks before your event. You should also set up an event page on Facebook or LinkedIn sending followers to your landing page. Finally, you can run paid ads on social platforms (PPC) to reach a potential audience beyond your followers.
- Promote with email
65% of entrepreneurs named email as the most effective channel to promote their webinar. So, if you have an email database (and we hope you do), make sure to send your contacts an invitation email. Emails are the most effective channel to drive registrations. Make it short, simple, and easy to sign up. We recommend sending an initial email 2 weeks before the event and a reminder a day or two before.
Step 9: Do a Dry Run
Test. Every. Thing.
Every webinar veteran will tell you, “things will go wrong.” Let’s minimize those risks with a proper dry run. After that, if anything does go wrong, smile. Then apologize and fix. This is when you’ll thank us for suggesting a technical assistant.
Let’s work up a checklist for your dry run:
- Are your guest speakers on standby and ready to join? Check their sound level to make sure it matches yours.
- Is your platform ready? Did you upload all the presentation materials? Is everything ready to be used? Do you know where all your features are and how to use them? Open a test webinar and have your tech assistant join in to test the platform.
- Check batteries, lights, sound, …
- Prepare back-ups: a ready-to-go back-up computer, extra batteries, cables, lights, …
- Do you have your notes ready? Practice your script.
- Perform a speed test for your internet connection.
Good luck. You got this!
Step 10: How to Host Your Webinar?
Read our tutorial on How to Moderate a Webinar for expert tips on the matter. Don’t forget to record your webinar. Put your audience front and center at all times, keep an eye on the clock, and have fun with it.
Step 11: Follow Up
Send your audience a follow-up email after a day or two. Briefly repeat what they got from attending the webinar and thank them for attending. If you had a small audience, you could make this email personal. This is also your opportunity to link back to your KPIs one last time. You can do so by letting them know the next step you’d like them to take or by offering them an exclusive discount. You can invite your audience to fill out a survey. It will help you assess the performance of your webinar and improve on it for future events.
Edit the recording of your webinar and add captions. You can do a host of things with this recording. You can send it to registrants who couldn’t attend. You can post it on your social channels or your website as VOD to attract more eyeballs. Or you can offer it as marketing collateral.
Step 12: Analyze, Assess, Improve
As mentioned in Step 11, a survey will help you understand how the webinar was received by your audience. But your webinar platform should be able to provide you with metrics such as attendance, retention, and top sources of registration. Your webinar’s chat feed also serves as an excellent source of information on how you performed.
Analyze this data and match them to your objectives and your KPIs to assess whether your webinar was a successful one. It will prove invaluable for your future events to bring about better performance and to collect and convert an even higher number of leads.
Try Kaltura Webinars for Free
Kaltura is a powerful webinar platform that will help you with setting up a webinar your audience will love. Run smooth webinars with efficient and fun tools such as digital whiteboards, screen sharing, notes, and chat, on a platform that integrates with your existing systems. Learn more about Kaltura Webinars and try it for free
Looking for a Platform to Host Your Webinar?
Check Out Kaltura Webinars!