Webinars are one of the most used and abused business tools out there. They can be employed in many different ways for a multitude of aims, but that also means there is a lot of potential for misuse and missteps.
The goal of a webinar and its target audience mean there are nuances to how they should best be used. Still, there are ten common best practices that will improve your viewer’s experience, and help you leverage the content going forward. Read on for our list of the top ten ways to improve your webinar delivery, and to re-purpose the content on an ongoing basis.
1. Prepare, Practice, Repeat
Almost any other issue with a webinar can be forgiven if you deliver excellent content. By running through your material and rehearsing your presentation, you’ll be less anxious and better able to handle any questions that may come up along the way.
Actually reading it out loud to yourself (you wrote down notes on what to talk about, right?) will help you catch gaps in your explanation or awkward phrases before others hear them. You want to ensure your ideas are presented clearly in a logical order to avoid rambling about unimportant points, or losing your audience’s interest early on. Just reading from your slides or from a script will tend towards a monotonous and boring delivery, and practicing will help you avoid that.
2. Upgrade Your Mic and Camera
The bulk of most webinars is a screencast or slides. Still, at some point you may use your webcam, and you will definitely need a microphone, whether it’s the built in mic that came with your computer, or an external USB mic.
Getting an external webcam and microphone is absolutely worth it. Even a cheaper version will likely deliver better video and audio quality than the camera and mic built into your computer.
These days, USB cameras and mics are very easy to set up and install. They also allow you to have a more flexible setup than being right in front of your laptop, speaking loudly into the mic. If you are relaxed and positioned comfortably, your presentation will go more smoothly than if you have to hunch over a computer the entire time.
3. Double and Triple Check Your Equipment
Speaking of equipment, test all of it before you start your presentation. Make sure everything is in working order, and that you know how to operate it or troubleshoot if something goes wrong.
4. Keep it Short and Sweet
There are some cardinal rules for delivering good presentations. If it drones on for more than an hour, you will quickly lose your audience. People can only focus on a topic for about 18-20 minutes, so keeping it as short and snappy as a TED presentation is a good goal to keep in mind.
Also, if you are showing slides, try not to have too many flashy animations (or any at all, for that matter). It will distract from your message and your slides will take too long to click through. Removing extraneous distractions will keep your audience engaged.
5. Build Audience Engagement into Your Presentation
When drafting your presentation, pick specific points to ask your audience questions, or prompt them for feedback. That way, you’ll ensure they’re paying attention, while also getting a read on their response to the information you’re presenting.
To prevent commenting or questions from derailing your presentation, you can designate time periods for discussion, or take questions via chat and then address them all at the end. Alternatively, audience polling is a great way to keep people’s attention, and can also provide valuable information or feedback.
6. Record and Export for Future Use
Webinars have remained extremely popular for a long time because at their best, they enable the delivery of information in an effective and entertaining way. Often, there are moments of clarity or conversational exchanges that have enduring value.
Capturing the webinar is extremely important, and not just for archival purposes. You can use soundbites or sections of the presentation in multiple ways. Most webinar platforms have a recording feature, and can export to a web-friendly format. You may need to convert the final video, but more on that later.
Capturing clear audio is as important as recording your screen. The audio track can also be repurposed as a podcast, or used with b-roll to create another video.
7. Create a Highlight Reel
The chances someone will want to rewatch the entire webinar with pauses, questions, interjections, sneezes or technical glitches is slim to none. Take the time to remove any unnecessary moments from the video and you will greatly increase its value to any future viewers.
You can go one step further, and cut out anything but the most important points, and improve the imagery or charts used as visuals. If there was a glitch with the audio recording, you can use a voiceover or narration to replace the problematic sequence. To maintain consistency, have the presenter re-record the audio in the same environment with the same settings as were used during the webinar.
8. Publish and Promote
Post archives of your webinars or highlight reels on your website. Depending on the content, they might be a fit for your homepage, support site, or blog.
To do so, you will need to look for a professional video hosting provider, such as SproutVideo, to securely publish your videos and promote them on the web. The goal is to put the webinars in easy-to-find places where prospects or current customers can access them as needed.
Developing appropriate content around the webinars, like a detailed description with a call-to-action is a great way to motivate interested people to click, especially for longer form content. If a webinar is 20+ minutes long, people want to know whether it will be worth their time to watch it in its entirety, so they may take some convincing.
9. Upcycle Your Content
Similar to the highlight reel, you can take bits and pieces of your webinars and repackage them as fresh content or as part of other presentations. The audio might be easier to reuse than the visuals.
Even for something like a site tour or product demo, you can create new videos for your help section without re-recording anything. For more sales and marketing focused videos, you can repurpose the content as promotional or explainer videos on your site.
Incorporating elements from prior webinars in new presentations is also a possibility. Getting creative with how you use your video content will help you maximize the value produced by the webinar.
10. Analyze and Improve
Even if your webinar was a success in terms of signups or conversions, you may still find some points for improvement. Increasing audience interactions, tweaking a chart or image, or even omitting certain points might deliver a better experience for your viewers. It also keeps the content fresh so you avoid feeling like you are just repeating yourself over and again.
Each webinar is a chance to improve your presentation skills. Check for indicators of engagement such as: audience interactions during and after the webinar; whether the archives are shared; how many times they are watched; the number of comments or questions generated; and any other indication that the webinar captured people’s attention and provided ongoing value. Surveying participants is another great way to gather feedback to improve future webinars.
Did we miss any tips for maximizing the ROI on your webinars? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on Twitter.