Webinars made a comeback in 2020, thanks to COVID-19 and social distancing. Now, in 2024, they're still going strong.
Prior to the pandemic, webinars were getting a little tired. We’ve all been on webinars that were too long, too salesy, too light on content, or too general to be of any use. But COVID-19 changed all that. Suddenly, webinars were valuable again. According to On24, their webinar platform hosted 330% more webinars between March 2019 and March 2020! Now, according to On24's latest research, they're still the top-rated conversion tool with 53% - that's more than content alone, which they found converts at 47%.
Today, webinars are still the best way to reach a group - and there are more ways than ever to host one. You can use traditional webinar software like GoToWebinar, you can use social media, or you can do a bit of both. Some live streaming software (including Zoom) also lets you livestream your webinar on Facebook or YouTube - nifty!
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In this post, we’ll give you some tips for before, during, and after your webinar to maximize its value for everyone involved. (We’re skipping the super-obvious stuff, like testing your tech beforehand and making sure your slides aren’t overloaded with text – we’ll assume this isn’t your first rodeo.) If you haven’t held a webinar for years, here are 22 tips to get you back in top shape as a host and presenter.
Before Your Webinar
92% of webinar attendees want a live question and answer session at the end of a webinar.
- Create your hook. What will your attendees get out of your webinar? Why is it worth their time? Be specific with your hook. For example, “How Life Insurance Gives You Peace of Mind” is not specific. However, “5 Ways Life Insurance Gives You a More Secure Retirement” is more specific. So is something like “4 Steps to Create Your Business Succession Plan.”
- Spell out the big-picture benefit. In the description for your webinar, use this formula: problem, solution, takeaway. What problem is this webinar addressing? What’s the solution? What will attendees be able to do with this information?
- Tell people exactly what they’ll learn. You need to give people a list of things they’ll be able to know or do after the webinar. This is best expressed in bullet points where you drill down into finer detail than your big-picture benefit. That big-picture benefit might be “plan a more secure retirement with multiple streams of income.” But your bullet point list might have items like: use cash value life insurance to pay for a child’s college education, use your policy’s living benefits to pay for long-term care, etc.
- Ensure your webinar has value. Does your webinar offer something valuable even if an attendee doesn’t do business with you? Every webinar should stand on its own and provide value for your prospects’ time. As you look at your presentation, ask yourself: would someone pay for this? If the answer is no, you’re not including enough valuable information.
- Include interactive elements in your outline or script. It’s easy to zone out during a webinar – or start scrolling Instagram. Every five minutes, try to include something that grabs your attendees' attention: a joke, a statistic that makes you go “whoa,” or a question or other interactive element.
- Think about branding. Is your logo on your slides? Is your name and contact information on any deliverables?
- Consider bringing in an assistant. No matter how ubiquitous webinars are, there are always folks who have connectivity problems and routine questions (“Will there be a replay?”). You may want to have someone handling these comments and questions in the webinar’s chat session. Your co-pilot can also be in charge of feeding you the attendees’ questions, pasting in prompts for interaction, and pasting links to your website or mailing list during the webinar.
- Create your own Q&A starters. Don’t rely on your attendees to have questions ready. It’s great if they do, but if they don’t, you need to jump-start their curiosity. If you have a co-pilot for the webinar, they can ask you these questions during the Q&A portion.
- Choose a sensible time. It used to be that Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 11 am Pacific time were the best times to host a webinar - and that's still true. But in the time of COVID, we’re a lot more used to Zoom meetings, so days like Friday and Monday are now normal and fair game. However, On24’s year-on-year research shows that Tuesday is still the best day to schedule in terms of attendance. 11 am Pacific time (2 pm eastern) works well because it’s not too early for west coast folks and not too late for east coast folks.
- Sound-proof your workspace. Before you log on, silence your phone and close any programs you’re not using, including email. This keeps unexpected alerts from annoying your audience, and it also keeps your computer desktop private. You don’t want to turn on screen share, for instance, and have a client name or email visible in your browser.
- Arrive early for an ice-breaker. Log on 2-5 minutes early, and ask a general question in the webinar’s chat room. This gets attendees used to using the software’s chat feature, so they’re more likely to ask questions later. You can ask people where they’re viewing from, what the weather’s like in their area, if they saw the big game this past weekend, or what they’re watching or listening to these days.
- Start with a bang. Most webinars start with an introduction – but that’s a little boring. Instead, try starting with something exciting that will keep your audience hooked, like restating the webinar’s value proposition, or sharing a quick story about a client you recently helped. Then you can introduce yourself to establish your authority, and quickly move on with the "meat" of the presentation.
- Take a break. At the halfway point, consider taking a small break to answer a few questions – this keeps people alert and attentive. See if any of the questions in the Q&A chat function address something that's already been covered, or do something interactive. For example, you could ask a new question in the chat room, or conduct a poll. But whatever you do, don’t ask people if they’re learning a lot or excited about what they’re learning. That's just filler and a waste of everyone's time.
- Watch your speed. If you’re doing a demo or using numbers in part of your presentation – such as in a sample household budget, needs calculator, or retirement calculations – go slow. You have a lot to cover, but it's also important that people don't zone out because they're lost or confused.
- Watch your time. Keep the webinar well under 60 minutes – preferably around 30-45 minutes, with time for a Q&A. That's the sweet spot, according to a consumer survey by BigMarker.
- End with a call to action. Don't wait until after the Q&A to share your call to action. If people need to drop off early, you don't want them to miss this. Be clear: what do you want them to do next? It should be spelled out clearly on a slide, in any handouts, and in the follow-up emails you send (we’ll get to those in the next section).
- Ask what else they want to learn about. At the very end, you may want to ask what else your audience wants to learn about. You can use these topics for future webinars, social media posts, blog posts, etc. If they want to learn about things you don’t cover (i.e., legal or tax questions), that might be a good reason to go find a special guest for your next webinar.
- Send attendees any materials you promised them. That might include a link to your slide deck, a replay, a handout, or a tip sheet. If you promised to send it, do it as soon as possible – within 24 hours. Be sure anything you send reinforces both your branding and your call to action.
- Send a message to people who registered but didn’t attend. Your webinar software should be able to provide this for you. Depending on the source of the statistic, you can expect any where from 1/3 to 1/2 of the people who signed up to actually attend. But don't worry - you can still reach the ones who didn’t via email. Send them the replay link and any materials you sent attendees. Customize the message that goes out to them with something that reinforces the value proposition of the webinar so they know why they should make time for the replay or your materials.
- Send a message to people who left early. Your webinar software should be able to provide this, too. Customize this message as well – you always want attendees to feel seen and noticed. Tell them you know they're busy, that they have a lot going on - but explain why that makes it even more important that they address the topic of the webinar as soon as possible. Explain the consequences of waiting or doing nothing, versus the advantages of knocking this issue out right now.
- Add attendees to an email nurture sequence. The first email? That’s easy – it’s your recap, slides, replay link, etc. Follow up with 2-3 more emails that reinforce the value of what they learned and what they should do next. In each email, address a common objection like time or cost. Explain why they need to act now, and what could happen if they don’t.
- Add attendees to your regular mailing list. This means they’ll get notified when you have another webinar!
Immediately Prior to & During Your Webinar
Only 34% of presenters use polls during their webinar.
After Your Webinar
Average webinar attendance is 40-50% of your registrants.
That's our look at 22 webinar tips for engagement & conversion!
We hope you learned something helpful for your next webinar! What's your best tip for those just getting back into webinars?