11 Steps for Hosting an Effective Webinar in 2022

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Ever daydreamed about living in a Bill Murray movie? Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it? At least it did until 2020 arrived. Then much of the world lived through the blockbuster, “Groundhog Day,” where Murray’s character found himself trapped in the same day –– over and over again.

The way we gather and share information today tends to fall into the same kind of repetitive pattern. After all, it’s easy to throw content online –– but it’s not easy to make that content great.

Webinars, or virtual seminars, have become a common vehicle for delivering content and information today. In 2021, 64% of B2B marketers had used some form of webinars over a 12-month period. The story behind their popularity? Business results. More than half of those B2B marketers also said webinars are their most effective video asset.

With everyone jumping on the webinar bandwagon, attendees now have a world of webinars to choose from. So, how do you get your webinars to stand out in the crowd? Read on for a step-by-step tutorial on creating webinars that will naturally get attendees off their phones and immersed in your content.

Step #1: Determine your desired outcome 

Webinars take around six hours each to produce –– they’re not quick projects. So you should know what you’re trying to get out of one before you spend precious time and resources creating it.

Typically, webinars are set up to teach or sell something but to define your specific desired outcome, you’ll want to dig a little deeper. Start by asking yourself a few key questions, including:

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What will success look like?
  • Why are you trying to reach them (and why now)?

Understanding the "who, what, and why" will then help you set clear goals and objectives for the experience –– and effectively communicate those goals to key stakeholders. It will also free you up to focus on the content, which is ultimately how you’ll engage your audience.

Step #2: Define your target audience

Before you create any content, you’ll need to understand the people who will consume it — and what matters most to them.

Creating an agenda without your target audience in mind will cause you to miss the mark on what’s truly relevant and interesting to them. But a few key actions can help you sidestep this pitfall.

Get specific on who you want to reach

While a halo effect often comes into play as you start promoting your experience, you should have a strong understanding of who your webinar is for –– and who it isn’t for. Try not to cast your net too wide as you’ll risk diluting the content, and ultimately, not inspiring people to convert.

Consider the following questions to help you narrow your focus:

  • Who are you looking to connect with as a business or organization?
  • Of that audience, who is most likely to be interested in and benefit from your webinar?
  • Is there a specific audience segment you’re targeting based on demographics, psychographics, or geography?
  • Is there a theme connecting potential audience members?

Identify pain points

People largely attend webinars looking for solutions to a problem they have or to learn something new. They might not know (or care at that point) how your business can help solve that problem or impart learnings, but they’re likely acutely aware of their pain points.

Your task is to determine what those pain points are so you can use the webinar you create to support your audience and offer them potential solutions.

Step #3: Find the perfect date, time, and length

Remember that sea of webinar options attendees are faced with today? Well, you’re not just competing with other events, you’re competing with work and personal schedules, too. Beyond that, the time you choose for your webinar can make or break your attendance rate.

So, seek to understand what will work best for your organization and your target audience. Then, think through these considerations:

  • Length: Most webinars are 30-60 minutes long (with 60 minutes being the most popular length) and include a content presentation as well as a conversation or Q&A toward the end. Choose the length that works for your specific experience.
  • Meal times: If your audience is joining from a common time zone, avoid scheduling your webinar at noon or 1 p.m. as many people will take a break for lunch around that time.
  • Time zones: Consider how many time zones attendees will be joining from and try to schedule during a reasonable overlap period. And remember, for those who can’t attend the live event, there’s always the Replay (for Hopin customers, at least).
  • Weekend spillover: Aim for midweek — Thursday, Wednesday, and Tuesday (in that order) typically produce the highest webinar turnout.

Once you’ve determined the “when,” it’s time to set up the “where.”

Step #4: Choose the right platform

Subpar webinar software can leave attendees daydreaming, drowsy, dropping out of the experience altogether –– or all three.

Here are a few things you might want in your webinar platform:

Once you line up the best platform for your experience, start thinking about your webinar content and who will deliver it. After all, your speakers are the ones who will either hook your audience or drive them away.

Step #5: Craft an agenda and secure speakers

Now that you’ve laid the foundation, it’s time to start building the house –– that means tackling your webinar content. Remember, your webinar is an opportunity to provide value to your audience.

Moreover, your agenda should follow a clear structure so the audience isn’t disoriented:

  • Start with an introduction or overview that explains what the webinar is about
  • Tackle the main presentation and core content
  • Slot in a Q&A session so the audience has a chance to ask questions
  • Consider an optional networking portion

Aim for speakers who will connect with your audience, command the screen, and drive passive engagement with attendees. That means speakers not only have to know the material, they also need to know how to bring some drama and make the content memorable.

As you search for speakers, consider internal and external candidates depending on the goal of your webinar. Consider these tactics during your internal and external speaker search:

  • Share a call to action with your internal and external network on social channels and in email blasts.
  • Add a banner to your website letting people know you’re searching for potential webinar speakers.
  • Look for someone who’s already known as an authority within the community, so they’ll help drive registrations.
  • Identify a subject matter expert your audience will be able to relate to who can share hard-earned secrets and lessons on the topic at hand.

Once you’ve crafted your agenda and identified and secured a speaker, it’s time to begin marketing your experience.

Step #6: Publish a user-friendly landing page

The webpage for your webinar is essentially the front door to your experience. It’s your audience’s first look at what they might be in for, so it’s your job to entice them –– quickly. A 2011 study found that a website has 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to convince visitors to stay –– otherwise, they'll leave.

Aesthetics matter, but above all your webpage needs to be functional. Make it easy for your audience to register and, if relevant, buy tickets directly from your webinar landing page.

Don’t forget to includes:

  • A strong headline and a description of the webinar, including what the value will be for the audience
  • Date, time (including time zone), and length
  • An eye-catching image
  • Short speaker bios
  • A call to action button attendees can use to register
  • The webinar hosting platform, if it’s not on the landing page

Step #7: Establish an attendee engagement plan

The most successful webinars mix passive and active engagement techniques to hold the audience.

Attendees showed up because they wanted to learn about the topic at hand. So, first and foremost, focus on nailing the content, getting high-quality speakers to deliver it, and delivering as much value as possible in an hour or less. Participatory elements can then complement the top-notch content –– but if the core content doesn’t land nothing else really matters.

Q&As, networking, and interactive elements can reinforce the content, boost retention, and further prevent people from reaching for their phones mid-webinar.

Test these tactics to help foster attendee engagement:

  • Weave in challenges, games, or tasks
  • Minimize the amount of text in speaker slides
  • Create polls, surveys, and chat prompts
  • Mix in music, images, and videos
  • Plant a few questions in the audience to kick start the conversation
  • Aim to make content delivery more conversational if it fits with the tone of your webinar
  • Suggest topics of conversation in a networking section

With an engagement plan locked and loaded, it’s time to open up registration and promote, promote, promote.

Step #8: Promote, promote, promote

How often do you sign up for webinars, only to lose track of them in your inbox? It’s one thing for your target audience to show interest in attending a webinar, but quite another for them to actually show up.

With that in mind, here are some tactics to help drive up your webinar registration and attendance rates:

Set up an email sequence

Ideally, you’ll find a platform that creates your email sequences, rather than requiring you to use a third-party email system.

To establish consistent pre-event touchpoints, create the following email sequence templates:

  • Confirmation email:  Participants receive this email immediately after they register for your webinar. Consider making registrants’ lives easier by including an “add to calendar” feature with all the details surrounding your event.
  • A 24-hour reminder: Send this email 24 hours before your event. Include convenient “‘add to calendar”’ and “click here to join” links so attendees can easily remember and access the webinar.
  • A one-hour reminder: This is often the most important email. So, create a catchy subject line signaling it’s time to join the event shortly. And provide an easy-to-spot “click here to join” button that creates a clear path into the webinar.

Leave no promotional stone unturned

If a webinar is open to the public, consider promoting it on your organization’s homepage.

Consider these other opportunities to promote your experience:

  • Email signatures: Encourage folks within your organization to add a link to the webinar landing page or registration page to their email signatures.
  • Targeted social ads: If hosted on the right platform, ads — especially on LinkedIn and Instagram — tend to be an excellent driver for webinar registrations.
  • Speakers’ networks: Organizers can share media kits with webinar speakers outlining details like webinar hashtags and when and where to announce their speaking opportunity. Encourage speakers to share the webinar with their networks on social media. Sharing is often a great driver for registrations because folks within a speaker’s network will want to support them.

As your promotions amp up and your sequence emails are delivered, webinar day is fast approaching. It’s time to add the finishing touches.

Step #9: Practice, practice, practice

Practice makes perfect, right? Prevent those pre-event nightmares about a speaker joining on the day of only to be greeted by technical issues by doing dry runs.

Make sure speakers use the right equipment. If it’s feasible, send a tech pack to speakers before the event. This pack sometimes includes A/V equipment and typically outlines all the necessary steps speakers should follow to be prepared for webinar day.

To get started, here are a few suggestions you can include:

  • Lighting and backdrop: Check to make sure speakers have decent lighting and an appropriate backdrop.
  • Internet connection: Test to make sure your connection is a strong 25 megabytes per second (mbps) download and 5 mbps upload.
  • Tutorials: Some folks are more technically inclined than others. With that in mind, consider sending a screencast with instructions on how speakers can test their equipment, access webinar presentation materials, and navigate any apps involved in the webinar.

After speakers review the instructions in the tech pack, schedule a time with them to run through the webinar. During the dry run, check to make sure the following items are working well:

  • Webcams
  • Microphones
  • Computer speakers or headsets
  • Presentation media and slide decks
  • Any apps they’re using

Now, it’s showtime!

Step #10: Record your show

Webinars offer the opportunity to share your message with a large audience, but they also have the potential to reach an even larger audience after the fact.

By recording your webinar, you can make it available to those who were unable to attend live or who want to revisit the content at a later time.

To ensure your webinar recording is of the highest quality, be sure to:

  • Use a good quality microphone and headset
  • Make sure your internet connection is strong and stable
  • Test your recording equipment ahead of time
  • Record in a quiet space
  • Upload your recording promptly after the live event ends

And then that’s a wrap, right?

Almost.

Step #11: Don’t forget to follow up

After a webinar ends, many attendees walk away feeling connected and more knowledgeable. To extend the life of that feeling and stay top of mind, send two follow-up emails:

Follow-up email #1: Send this one to the audience that attended the webinar. Thank them for their attendance and participation. Include a link to the webinar recording.

Follow-up email #2: Send this one to registrants who didn’t attend and highlight what they missed. Again, include a link to the webinar recording and let them know it’s available to view.

Offering access to a live webinar and post-show on-demand content is a win-win for everyone. Your audience can replay what they missed whether or not they attended the live experience. At the same time, your company, product or service, and speakers gain audience exposure. Above all, it reduces friction by making it easy to access the content.

Make all your webinars worth attending

Webinars help you share key messaging and expertise with your target audience. They’re intimate and can be customized to fit your needs.

Master these 11 steps to host a webinar that breaks the mold –– and drives results –– in 2022.

Sign up for a free account on Hopin and test drive our platform for your next webinar.

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