Thursday, August 12, 2010

Planning a Webinar - Best Practices

Follow these simple steps to conducting an effective Web seminar. The key to a successful seminar is selecting a valuable topic and content for the audience and having a good speaker.

  1. Determine the goals of your event – educate clients and prospects, generate sales leads, product launch.
  2. Determine compelling topic that will make the right people want to attend
  3. Choose your technology – You’ll want a web conferencing solution that works with a variety of operating systems, is reliable, can scale to a large number of attendees, and has the features you need including polling, chat, Q&A, and recording. There are two options for delivering the audio portion of your seminar, which include a teleconference call or audio streaming. Audio streaming is less expensive for large audiences, however, only allows for one-way communication and not everyone has a sound card with speakers. A teleconference is more reliable and allows for two-way interaction. Beware of "free" telephone conference call offers. You get what you pay for. Find a provider that delivers the audio conference call over traditional phone lines for peace of mind reliability.
  4. Select your speaker and meeting support team. (a) Speaker: It’s preferred to have a speaker who is recognizable to the audience, credible and has good speaking skills. (b) Moderator: A Web conference is much like a radio show to your audience. A skilled moderator improves the flow and feel of your event in several ways. A moderator will put a nervous speaker at ease with easy questions and prompts that will help them stay focused on their presentation. In addition, a good moderator can read the audience's mood by viewing the questions and comments submitted by online participants. This gives the moderator cues about speeding up the program, or taking time to answer pressing questions raised by the audience. The moderator can also monitor the questions (c) support person: Have a support person on hand to handle any technical issues experienced by participants.
  5. Select an appropriate time for your event: For events based in the U.S., 10:00 am PST, 11:00 am MST, 12:00 pm CST, 1:00 pm EST is usually a good time. Skip Mondays and Fridays.
  6. Establish your registration process: Streamline the registration process as much as possible – make it quick and easy. Online registration is effective and convenient. Also, make sure the technology can separately track who attended the meeting for follow up.
  7. Invite and engage in a mix of offline and online promotions early and follow up, follow up, follow up. Send confirmation e-mails immediately after registration and at least two reminder e-mails prior to the Webinar. Reminder phone calls the day before the event is also effective.
  8. Pre-seminar walk-through – Practice your Web seminar with your speaker(s) and content at least once prior to the actual event. Do a sound check with the phone or microphone that you plan to use.
For some reason many companies hosting Webinars do not put in the same amount of time planning and choosing the venue (technology) with a Webinars as they would an onsite event. Putting in the time to plan for the Webinar and use a technology that is reliable will result in happy attendees.

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