Quick & Dirty Tricks to Prepare for an Awesome Webinar
Organizing and executing a webinar is no easy task for community managers or content marketers. Considering technical logistics, quality content, an engaging presence, and all the other details that go into great webinars, there’s a lot that could seemingly go wrong.
Having organized, moderated, and presented webinars over the past four years, I’ve run lots of good webinars, and some bad ones, too. Over the years I’ve developed a handful of habits that have helped me prepare for webinars the best I can. There’s no guarantee every webinar will go off without a hitch, but these tips can help ensure you’re doing the best you can to provide an awesome broadcast to your attendees.
Prep Talking Points Before—and Proof Them
When I first started doing webinars, many of the sessions were ones we would also present in-person at conferences. In preparation for our webinar events, I’d jot down bullet points on index cards, much like I would for a conference presentation, and wing it the day of. It wasn’t always the best listening experience for guests.
Over time, I learned that it’s worth the investment to write our your talking points for webinars, almost sentence-by-sentence. For many content- or product-related webinars, you will screen share a presentation or live demo of the product itself, and your beautiful, shining face won’t be seen. Break down your talking points slide by slide, bring ’em up on your phone, tablet, or go old school and print them, and read off them like a script—your guests will be none the wiser.
Don’t forget to proofread them beforehand, or have a colleague or friend do it for you… an extra pair of eyes don’t hurt.
The benefits of writing out your talking points are:
- “Uhs,” “ums,” “likes,” and other filler words are eliminated.
- Smooth and consistent talking creates an enjoyable listening experience for your attendees. Attendees who have a pleasant experience = attendees who are likely to sign up and participate again.
- You can be sure to address every special detail you need to, without worrying about it slipping your mind.
Review & Rehearse
Just as you should have someone read over your talking points, you should have someone read over your slide deck beforehand, too. This may seem obvious to some, but garnering feedback and comments is important, and oftentimes results in missed duplicate words, misspellings, aesthetic suggestions, and other minor details that play a role in the larger scope of webinar success.
Doing a mini “rehearsal” of the webinar is helpful, too. You may feel a bit silly sitting in a conference room talking to yourself as you click through slides and read talking points to your computer screen, but the practice will help you make sense of timing, pace, and familiarize yourself with your own words.
When possible, do a test-run of the audio and video for your event before going live. It’s easy to do this with Google Hangouts On Air by inviting a colleague into the Hangout before going live and getting the OK on the A/V setup. Need a refresher on using Google Hangouts On Air? Check out this blog post.
Don’t forget to use headphones/headsets/earbuds with a microphone—your participants will thank you!
Disconnect All the Things!
Technology is fickle, and if there’s one thing I learned, you can’t be too prepared. Close out of Skype, shut down Slack, quit Spotify, remove any unnecessary tabs in your browser, and hardwire your internet connection. If you plan to live tweet, and have a colleague to tag-team it, let them handle the social media.
Don’t forget, many webinar platforms require a fair bit of computer power to run, especially for an extended period of time. Even the fastest of computer could get winded after a busy, interactive webinar.