Webinars are effective at gaining your learner’s trust, delivering valuable content in a concise way, and if utilized properly, a seamless marketing channel for selling your online courses.
What you need to host a webinar
There are a few things you’ll need to host a professional-looking webinar, whether you opt to do it live or as a pre-recorded/automated production.
Let’s talk about the options and how to set yourself up for a successful webinar launch.
The program you choose to host your webinar is as important as the content you plan to include. Ultimately, you want to choose a program that you’re intimately familiar with (or are willing to invest the time to learn).
Tech issues during a webinar, especially when hosted live, are one of the quickest ways to lose credibility with your audience.
Here are a few popular options to explore. Each has its own set of advantages, disadvantages, costs, and usability.
- Go To Webinar
- Google Hangouts
- Easy Webinar
- Webinar Jam
If you’re not already familiar or happy with your program of choice, do a bit of research to land on one that will work best for you. Then…
Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Do a few trials run with the software to familiarize yourself with all the moving parts.
- Can you present your content convincingly on-camera while running all the buttons?
- Can you interact with the audience and see/answer questions?
- Can you troubleshoot common problems like audio or chat features?
- Can you share your screen and switch between different media easily, such as ppt, video, spreadsheets, pdf, etc.?
- Use your phone and/or another laptop to view the webinar as a participant.
- Get a few colleagues or friends to do a dry run of your webinar to work out any hiccups.
If you’re the kind of person that loves over-researching before choosing (I can relate), give this article a read, “21 Best Webinar Software of 2021 (Tools Ranked & Reviewed)”. The article also includes a video on their top 3 picks as well: Livestorm, Demio, and WebinarJam.
Email Marketing Service
Much like the software available to host your webinar, you’ll discover a similar number of options to choose from when it comes to email management services.
You’ll be using this service to automatically send emails to each person who registers for the webinar, reminders of when it’s happening, along with a few more emails to send after the webinar is over, which will be especially useful when it comes to selling your online course!
I’m using the free version of MailChimp, which is an extremely popular platform, but there are several others to consider.
Want to research more? Give this article a read, “Best Email Marketing Services”. It highlights a list of the Top 12.
It doesn’t take much!
1) A webcam if you’re going live (or a smartphone for pre-recorded).
2) A microphone
The video/audio hardware already on your computer may suffice, depending on what you have. Just make sure to test it! If it’s subpar, upgrade to a better external webcam and microphone.
Before we get started
Before creating your actual webinar content, you’re going to need to create a registration page. This will allow participants to sign up for your webinar and provide them with the necessary details for attendance.
Registration pages can be created in a few different ways. Your webinar platform and/or your email management program likely have this integration. If not, or if you’re looking for an upgrade, give this article a read, “The 11 Best Landing Page Builder Software Tools”.
Here’s all you need to include:
- A catchy headline
- A summary of what you’re going to cover – think of these as your course objectives, just flashier
- Who you are. What makes you qualified? Include a headshot and any co-hosts
- The pertinent – date, time, how to register
In addition to your registration page, go ahead and create a confirmation page, acknowledging enrollment and thanking your participant for registering. This is also a good place to reiterate the pertinents, provide a link to the webinar, and include social sharing options to help organically spread the word about your webinar.
A mini online course
Since we’re in the eLearning biz, this should be the easy part!
Think of your webinar as a single module and then add some pizazz to it. The structure will be very similar and can be a mashup of whatever media will deliver the best presentation – video, slideshow, screen shares, etc.
Here’s what to include.
- Waiting room – meet and greet the participants 5-10 minutes before the actual start time (if your webinar is live)
- Intro – cover any housekeeping items (muting mics, asking questions, etc.) and then introduce what your webinar is going to cover
- About you – this will expand on your expertise and what makes you an authority. Make sure to include some personal insights – it’ll make you more “real” and personable
- Main content – this is the meat of the webinar. Structure it like any other course module
- The pitch – more on this in Episode #3!
- Outro – This is a good place for a Q&A
Use the framework above to craft an engaging webinar using the tried-and-true elements of instructional design such as storytelling, emotion, thought-provoking questions, adult learning… the list goes on.
Finally, if you’re hosting your webinar live, make sure to record it! This allows everyone who couldn’t attend the day-of to still participate.