Tips On Running A Webinar

A subscriber asked me for tips on running a webinar.  Here are some things I would recommend from my experience on being on a few webinar presentations, and from research I’ve done. I am not an expert on creating and presenting webinars, but here are some tips to help those of you who are considering using webinars to reach your audience.  At the end of this article, I’ll give you a couple resources where you can get more information.

Choosing a Webinar Company:

Webinars are a great way of reaching a large group of individuals from diverse locations with your message.  These useful virtual meetings can be used for marketing, for training, and for a wide range of other purposes if you know how to run one smoothly.  Learning the basics of webinars isn’t difficult, but ensuring that you are consistently putting together a professional quality event can be more challenging.

Before you can run a successful webinar, you’ll need to choose a webinar service that will make your presentation possible.  Although some big names tend to dominate the industry, you’ll also find a number of smaller players worthy of consideration.  Don’t just assume the first name you’ve heard will provide the best service.  You want to do some research.

First, you should make a list of all of your requirements: how many computers can be connected simultaneously, what software needs to work with the service (most support PowerPoint), what learning curve you can expect, and what your cost will be.  These are just a few of the factors.

Second, start searching for services.  Read the details of what they offer until you find a couple which meet most of your needs.  Be prepared to compromise if you can’t find a perfect fit. 

Next take a couple of these services for a test drive.  Many webinar services do offer a free trial period so use that period to do your testing.  Also, read reviews of the programs to get a feel for what others think of them.

Finally, test the company’s customer support to find out how they perform.  You don’t want to be in the middle of a presentation then find out the service’s tech support is lousy.

Gather Your Supplies:

The webinar service is only part of what you’ll need for your presentation.  It’s a good idea to begin getting your items together early so that you can make sure you have everything you need, you know how to use it correctly, and that everything works.  You don’t want to delay your entire presentation because your headset is malfunctioning.

With that said, you are going to need a headset with a built-in microphone.  Do not choose the cheapest model you can find.  Remember that quality is important here.  The participants in the event need to be able to clearly hear you, so consider the headset an investment and spend a little extra.

You also want to get a screen-capture program that allows you to show images that are going to be important for your presentation.  For example, charts, graphs, photos, etc.  A popular screen-capture program is Camtasia.

Most importantly, you’ll need a solid Power Point presentation, as well as a well-rehearsed oral presentation.  Both the visual and the aural parts of the webinar must be working well together if you are going to leave a positive impression on your audience and convey the information you need to share.

What to Do on the Day of the Webinar:

Prior to that day, you need to practice your entire presentation using the software.  You’ll want to ask a couple of co-workers or trusted acquaintances to call in and critique your presentation so you can make changes.  You may also want to do a run through a few hours before the start of the actual presentation so you’ll feel confident and prepared.

Make sure you contact any presenters or others involved with the presentation to make sure they are on time for the start of the webinar.  It’s also a good idea to send out reminders to everyone who will be attending either by email, text, or phone.  You should include all of the details for joining the webinar in advance, but make sure to include these again with every reminder, in case the person has lost the original information.

Finally, you should join the webinar about ten to fifteen minutes early so you can greet participants as they enter for the presentation.  It’s also a good idea to have a welcome screen of some sort posted through the webinar service so people will know they are in the right location.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

The biggest mistake is not practicing.  You definitely don’t want to try and “wing” your way through a webinar.  It’s not going to work.  You want to practice and practice as much as possible.  Most of the things that could go wrong – malfunctioning equipment, PowerPoint problems, etc. – can be avoided with planning, preparation, and plenty of practice.

Services:

Here are a couple services you can check out for presenting your webinar:
1. Cisco’s Webex: http://www.webex.com/

2. Citrix Online: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/?Portal=www.gotomeeting.com
This service is the one I see being used most often.

Again, the best advice I can give you is practice, practice, practice.

To your success…


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3 Responses to “Tips On Running A Webinar”

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