How Not to Suck at Webinars
Who should listen: This episode is for sales and service professionals who want to know how to host a stellar, live webinar that will absolutely produce leads.
Key point: Webinars are excellent sources of new leads, but you need to know how to translate face-to-face speaking skills to a virtual environment and in a way that still engages an audience.
Action item: Enhance your credibility by hosting an educational seminar for your sphere. You’re the expert, so share what you know. It’s an amazing way to build trust.
Have you had enough of sitting through soul-sucking webinars 💀? You know—the ones that make you want to throw your router through your computer screen.
Seriously though, you would think that with the huge increase in the number of webinars we’ve had to endure since the pandemic began (167% according to one report), someone would stand up and say we need to learn how to do this the right way.
But even when the virus threat is much smaller, webinars are not going away. Many companies are considering sticking with webinars, or at least maintaining them as part of a hybrid model of in-person and virtual meetings.
So please, for the sake of all that is good and holy, if we’re going to keep having webinars, then listen to the advice from this week’s guest, Brad Swineheart. He knows a thing or two about presenting smooth and interesting webinars. He’s the VP of Business Development at White Glove, an end-to-end seminar service for financial professionals.
And read the rules (not tips!) below for hosting a webinar. It’s not a comprehensive list, but make sure you follow these minimum requirements so that you won’t make participants want to pull their hair out.
1. Ask yourself, “Do we need a webinar?”
Be honest—have you ever produced a webinar because you wanted more leads without considering whether it will be useful to your audience?
People are way too wrapped up in their own lives and work to sit and watch a webinar if there is no value in it for them. Are you able to state clearly what benefit(s) your audience will receive from giving up an hour of their lives to listen and watch your webinar?
If you can’t, or if you’re not 100% sure you’d sit through your own presentation, then don’t do it. There are other ways to garner leads.
2. Make sure your topic is worthy of a webinar.
Just because you may think your latest idea deserves a webinar doesn’t mean your audience will.
Back in the day, when more of us were in our offices, we had meetings with topic that could have easily been addressed in an email. They were a waste of time. At the end, everyone would leave wondering why they had to drop everything and collect in a room just to be told that this year’s holiday party budget will be reduced by $200.
Before you start promoting your webinar as the best thing in the history of [fill in the blank], you should make sure it really is. Don’t tick off your audience by disguising a product pitch as something worth giving up their lunch break for.
Wordstream, a company all about online advertising, counsels would-be presenters to curb their excitement and reconsider their decision if their intended webinar is about:
- A minor product release or update
- A news-based webinar with little or to no new information or opinion
- A broad, “content thin” webinar on a general topic
- A webinar focusing on a tired idea or concept
- A straight-up sales deck or product pitch
3. Select a host who is a confident and energetic public speaker
Public speaking is difficult, and it scares a heck of a lot of people. Don’t believe that because a host can’t see their audience that they won’t feel the same discomfort (panic?) presenting a webinar as they would if they were on a stage.
Select a host who will keep your audience in their chairs with their computer volume up. You’ll want a host who is experienced and enjoys public speaking.
They’ll have an engaging voice. PLEASE, no monotones.
They’ll be appropriately animated when they speak.
They’ll appear confident on camera and ooze authenticity.
And they’ll practice, practice, practice what they’ll say before going live.
Anything less, and no matter how great your message, you’ll find that people will start dropping off faster than needles from a Christmas tree.
4. Use an impressive slide deck
After the speaker’s voice, the slide deck is the only other aspect of a webinar to hold your audience’s attention. It needs to be good.
Just about everyone knows PowerPoint, but today there are so many more free options available. Check out a few, and select the one that best fits your needs.
In addition to how your slides look, you need to know what to include on them. Your slide deck can be written as a series of prompts that can guide you through your script. Your slides should not be tantamount to the entire script.
Here’s some advice: Include just enough information so that the slides can be used as a reference for you and later for your audience.
- Keep it simple and consistent. Don’t get carried away with slide transitions or animation. Select colors and fonts that are easy on the eyes.
- Use bullets rather than long sentences.
- Make the title of the slide a complete thought. Single words usually aren’t sufficient.
- Include facts and statistics. If you don’t include the source in your slides, keep a record of them in case you get asked.
- Don’t use unfamiliar acronyms or jargon your audience won’t understand.
5. Have a backup plan
Webinars depend on technology, so it’s a no-brainer that you should expect something to go wrong. You need to be prepared for every contingency.
It should go without saying that you conduct a test run before you start, which means you should arrive early and make sure everything is set to go. In addition:
- Make sure everything is working—microphones, headsets, lights, computer.
- Have extra batteries for all your equipment.
- Have a second [fill in the blank] for when your first [fill in the blank] stops working.
- Make sure your tech support person is on stand-by.
Now for the reality check . . . things will go wrong that you didn’t expect.
Go with the flow.
Remember that these are the minimal requirements for producing a webinar. There are other suggestions you can consider, and the Internet has no shortage of good ideas. Keep your audience’s needs in mind, be rehearsed, have some reliable equipment, and you’ll be far ahead of most non-professionals with a connection and a camera.
Connect | Resources
Podcast: Be Advised—Leading with Value on Apple Podcasts
Podcast: The Captivating Advisor on White Glove offers video resources and more to create captive prospects.