Most of us have been to a webinar or two, but not all of us have hosted one. I started hosting webinars almost ten years ago and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Quite frankly, I wasn’t very good in the beginning so my lessons were hard earned. I’m sharing what I learned in hopes of sparing you from some of the same challenges. Here are my Top 5 Tips for How to Host a Webinar:
1. Be familiar with the technology, whichever platform you use. It is so important for a Webinar Host to know how use the technology to share your expertise. Tech can easily be a distraction, especially when it isn’t working, so you want to make sure the tech is working for you. Watch the tutorials, attend the learning webinars, and practice so you are as familiar as possible with the platform before you use it.
2. Have a co-host for every webinar to help with tech and facilitation. A co-host can manage tech that includes initiating polls and handling any tech issues that arise for you or your audience. This allows the host to focus on the webinar content and to not be distracted by an attendee who can’t hear. They can also help field questions and summarize comments in the chat to allow you to maintain your focus on your presentation. It really takes the pressure off the host and makes a better experience for your audience.
3. Engage your audience the same way you would when you teach or train face-to-face. Use the polls and survey to gather data, ask questions and get answers, and give time for reflection. It is okay if there is silence in your webinar; don’t fear it, embrace it.
4. Use all of the features. Each platform has a range of features, and they have been designed with the user in mind. If the platform allows for polls, use them. If the raise hand feature is there, ask your audience to use it. If they offer a practice session, most definitely use it. The features were specifically designed for intelligent delivery to help you facilitate and engage your audience for a successful webinar.
5. Follow-up with your audience. Most webinar platforms provide you with an attendee or registration list and may even allow you to automate a follow-up email. Whether it is automated or manual, you want to follow up with your attendees after the webinar. Use the opportunity to thank them and give them a freebie. You can also invite them to join your mailing list, follow you social media page, and/or to your next event. Take advantage of these new contacts and give them as much added value as you can, don’t sell them anything. Use the follow-up to show appreciation and strengthen your relationship.
Hosting webinars is a great way to share your expertise, strengthen your client relationships, and reach new people. But only if the webinar is good, so make sure you put the time in to hosting a great webinar.
Bonus: I’ve used Webex, Go To, and Zoom and I think all of them are great tools; however, Zoom is probably my favorite because the sound quality, ease of use, and affordability.
Happy hosting! And have fun!