Step-by-Step Guide to Planning Your First Webinar
Before you start planning a webinar, you need to know your goal and understand your motivation for hosting one.
Well, once you have clarity on these two points, and they’re combined with an understanding of your target audience, only then can you put together an event that adds add value to the right people.
Follow this step by step guide to hosting your first awesome webinar:
Step 1: (6 - 8 weeks prior) Create the webinar plan
Webinar organizers are often tempted to treat webinar planning differently to a face-to-face conference, but even though the event is online, there is still a lot that needs to be done. Take the time to plan the whole process from start to end and then follow-up. Go over the next steps to find out what to include in your overall plan.
Step 2: (6 weeks prior) Map out the event process
If you don’t map out the entire process, you could miss a step. For instance, maybe you have a landing page to give more information, and to which you send traffic, but forget about a thank you page.
Process mapping doesn’t have to be fancy; you could just draw it on a piece of paper, but I find mapping out event processes, especially when they’re online, gives me confidence that I have everything covered.
Step 3: (5 weeks prior) Finalize topic, title, abstract & presenters
The title and abstract needs to be compelling enough to ignite interest among your target audience. Make sure the title is clear, so that people know exactly what the webinar is about.
Keep the abstract brief, punchy, and easy to read. On the landing page, use bullet points
where possible. If you’ve invited an expert speaker, be sure to highlight his or her expertise. Be clear about who should attend the webinar, what will be covered and why they should not miss it. Keep the title to no more than 15 words and up to 200 words for the abstract.
Step 4: (5 weeks prior) set up registration & landing page
It’s always best to keep the registration form as short and easy to complete as possible. It’s been proven that the shorter the form, the better the response.
Here’s an example of a landing page to which you would direct traffic:
Sujan Patel, Internet marketing guru, offers advice about landing page mistakes; go through his post before creating your landing page, so that you can get as many conversions as possible for your first webinar.
Step 5: (4 weeks prior) Start promoting the webinar
Your webinar can have the best expert speakers planned, and be centred around an awesome topic that many would like to know about, but if nobody knows about it, nobody’s going to join. So you have to promote it. First email invitations to your current database and email lists about 2 weeks prior to the event. Promote it on your website, adding a link to a page that gives more information about it.
Use social media to broadcast it.
Other ideas for promotion:
- Give a press release
- Use your expert speaker’s networks to extend invitations
- Use Google AdWords
- Try advertising on event sites like Eventbrite
Step 6: (3 weeks prior) Draft slide presentation & familiarize yourself with technicalities
Lifehacker gives tips on how to prepare great PowerPoint presentations.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the webinar software you’ll be using (e.g. ClickMeeting), so that you don’t get any unexpected, and perhaps fatal surprises when you least need them. Understand exactly how everything works.
Step 7: (2 weeks prior) Full rehearsal
Once your presentation has been perfected, it’s time for a full rehearsal. Start from scratch, and rehearse all the way to the end, fixing what needs to be fixed as you go.
After this step, your presentation should be 100% ready.
An important part of this step is that you put yourself in your audience’s shoes, so that you know what they are experiencing, and so that you can fix things according to that experience.
Step 8: (24 hours prior) First reminder email
Send the first reminder email to participants about 24 hours before the event. Include instructions for joining the webinar, as well as the audio portion of it.
Step 9: (3 - 1 hours prior) Second reminder email
It’s a good idea to send attendees a final reminder email about the webinar. 3 Hours to 1 hour before it starts is good. Remember to include a link and instructions as to how to join and test the audio portion.
Step 10: (30 minutes prior) Get ready to start
Get ready to start. Organize staff, presenters and set up equipment. Turn off distractions like email, text messages, Skype, etc. Silence your phone and pets. And pests.
After the webinar…
Once your webinar is done ‘n dusted, don’t neglect to follow up with your audience, carry through with any promises you may have made and edit the recording, if necessary.
Now you can upload the recording to YouTube or Vimeo, and promote it as a video.
In time, the recorded content can be repurposed as content for your blog, or an infographic, etc.
The good thing about a webinar, is that unlike a brick and mortar conference, it never has to die...