While webinars initially offered a convenient way for business professionals to meet without the expense of traveling to a central location, in recent years they are used for everything from education classes for home school and college students to marketing presentations to promote a specific product or service. Regardless of its purpose, a webinar offers the chance for you to meet with people from around the world from the convenience of your home computer.
From when I hosted my first webinar until now, the amount of knowledge that I’ve learned is phenomenal – and the learning never stops. As new technology becomes available, so do new features to improve the quality of your webinar. However, all the features in the world won’t make up for bad hosting.
While no one sets out to be a bad host for their web conferencing event, overlooking essential elements of hosting a webinar and making clumsy mistakes will have a direct impact on the opinion of your audience. From creating the initial content for your event to sending out follow-up surveys to your guests, here are some tips that I learned through trial and error.
Avoid peak times when crashes are more likely to occur. Bandwidth issues are less likely to happen on a Wednesday just after lunch than they are on a Monday or Friday morning, for instance. The web conferencing company you use can provide more information and advice on when is the best time to schedule your webinar.
Give a Positive First Impression
Attending a webinar can be confusing to those who aren’t familiar with the process. Even if your web conferencing company offers a way to welcome guests, a greeting on the first slide tells guests that they’ve come to the right place and gives you an opportunity to add any special tips they’ll need to know during the webinar – like how to work interactive features for a Q&A session.
Deliver Quality Content
When planning out your webinar, keep things interesting while keeping with the original theme. Take advantage of features provided by your web conferencing company that will help reinforce the message of your webinar. Interactive polls and message boards allow guests to go on discussing the content long after the event concludes.
Avoid too Many Slides
I love slides. Slides are great! At its most basic, a web conferencing company allows the use of slides through a basic PowerPoint presentation. Careful use of graphics and text deliver an effective presentation, but too many slides can overwhelm guests and cause them to lose focus. Not only could it cause guests to lose focus, but it’s more difficult for you as a host to cram an overwhelming amount of slides in a specific time frame.
Record your Event
When using a web conferencing company, ask about options for recording your webinar. Will you be able to edit, archive, and re-post it? This allows you and your guests to refer back to the information at a later time. You might go a step further and transcribe the recording into a text document. Transcribing can be tedious, so you might have more success looking for a company or individual to do the work.
It’s much easier to host a webinar than you might think. Regardless of your choice of web conference company, most software is easy to set up and even easier to use once in place. You’ll find that many offer free trials and tutorials that help you get started. One of the things that helped me make a final selection was to attend webinars hosted by other people. Attending a webinar is not only a great way to become familiar with the technology, but it also gives you a good idea of things you want to do – or want to avoid doing – when it comes time for you to host your own webinar. It was the Greek poet Homer who said, A kind host is never forgotten by the guest. This is also true for guests to a webinar! If you as a host leave your audience feeling appreciated and that attending your webinar was time well-spent, they will be more likely to give you positive feedback as well as attend webinars you host in the future.
The brainchild behind Web Conference Classroom, entrepreneur William Barcelon lives in Woodcroft, a suburb of Blacktown near Sydney, Australia where he often uses the Internet and video conferencing software to keep in touch with family living in other countries. At nearby Woodcroft Lake, a man-made feature that is part of the development, Barcelon and his family enjoy watching the area’s usual waterfowl plus the occasional rare sighting of other species, like Australia’s black swan.