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Seven Key Steps for Running a Stellar Webinar

Webinars, or interactive seminars broadcasted over the Internet, are great, scalable ways to increase your or your company’s web presence and online authority. Use webinars to establish yourself as a thought leader, teach prospective and new customers about your product, and gain new business. These tips that I’ve learned from presenting and attending webinars will ensure that you create and deliver an engaging, high-quality presentation.

  1. Prepare. Have a clear vision for your webinar topic. Your subject should be narrow in scope, either very relevant to your interests or company’s focus. Write an outline (not a script!) detailing all of the major focal points of your webinar, and create a visually compelling slide deck to complement your words.
  2. Rehearse. This should be obvious, but I still feel the need to iterate this point. Run through your webinar with this several times before the start of the event, and don’t be afraid to reference your outline while you present to keep you on track. It’s incredibly distracting when the presenter continually pauses and fumbles words.
  3. Spread the word. Make it easy for existing and potential clients to find out about your webinar. Use social media channels, email marketing lists, and any other tools at your disposal to spread the news about your upcoming webinar.
  4. Remind. As easy as it will be for prospects to register for your webinar, it’s even easier for them to forget to attend. Your dropoff rates could be as high as 70%, and that’s still a decent showing. Email your attendees a confirmation of their registration, and schedule at least one reminder email (I’d recommend two) less than 24 hours before the start of your webinar in order to keep it top of mind.
  5. Tailor. While a webinar is a one-to-many relationship, your audience members will often have a common thread, allowing you to tailor your messaging to that specific group of people. For example, Contactually has started targeting realtors, and as such runs webinars using realtor-specific language and talking points that correspond to the profession. Customize the messaging in your outreach, outline, and slide deck to more effectively reach that group.
  6. Interact. A webinar’s best feature is that it facilitates interaction with your audience. Take advantage of this — it’s not a webcast, after all! Enable chat and Q&A functionalities so your attendees can ask you questions and provide additional feedback during the webinar. If your company has the bandwidth, develop a branded hashtag and tweet about your webinar to further engage attendees and share your content. Provide multiple points of contact, including email addresses and social network profiles, at the conclusion of your event to keep the conversation going.
  7. Follow up. Email a thank you note to all of the registrants and attendees the next day, regardless of whether or not they actually showed up. Offer to send out any materials you used during your presentation, especially if your software enables you to record your webinars for later viewing. Just because someone didn’t attend doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested in what you had to say — they did register after all, and sometimes things come up. You have nothing to lose by expanding your reach!

What are your webinar best practices? I’m always looking to refine my technique, and would love to hear what you have to say. Leave me a comment, email me, or Tweet me @bpesin!

Brian Pesin is a marketing manager at Contactually, a Washington, D.C.-based startup. He graduated from Stanford in June 2012 with a BA in Science, Technology & Society. Prior to working at Contactually, he contributed to product marketing efforts at Twitter and Wildfire Interactive, and interned on the Stanford University Digital Marketing team.

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