With face-to-face events on hold as a result of the pandemic, webinars have given trade associations and membership organisations the opportunity to continue to interact and engage with members.
Simply put, a webinar is a virtual seminar. It can take the form of a video of the presenter speaking, a presentation, panel discussion or other display features.
One of the main benefits of a webinar is that you can join from anywhere, so long as you have a reliable internet connection.
However, planning and hosting a successful webinar isn’t as simple as it sounds. It can take just as much organisation as a face-to-face event does.
Here are our top ten tips:
- Choose the perfect platform
There are several things to consider when choosing a platform such as ease of use, editing options, metrics, audience size, recording options, mobile accessibility and of course budget. Here at The Association Management Company we use Zoom, WebEx and Microsoft Teams. We recommend trialling a few platforms to find out which one suits you best before signing up for a subscription.
- Choose your subject carefully
Consider the problem your webinar will solve and potential questions you will need to answer when picking a webinar topic. For example, it could be legislation that your members need to understand or the launch of a new benefit. Just like a face-to-face event, the subject needs to entice members to take time out of their day to attend. At this stage you should also consider if there will be a charge.
- Select a suitable presenter
Once you have chosen your subject you need to find a suitable presenter(s) who have the expertise and experience to confidently talk about the topic at hand. A host can also play the role of presenter or you could use industry experts.
- Pick a date and time
Make sure you pick a date and time that will suit your members. Remember to consider if any of your members will be joining from overseas!
- Decide on the format
This should be considered when choosing your subject. It could just be a question and answer session or a product demonstration where there is no interaction from the audience. Alternatively, it could be a video introduction followed by a presentation. We work on the principle that every minute of presentation equals ten minutes preparation, which means a 60-minute presentation would take approximately ten hours to plan.
Come up with an engaging title for your webinar and make sure you start promoting well in advance. This could be done via a dedicated webpage, targeted emails, or social media. If you do use social media, you may want to consider using a hashtag. Whichever channels you settle on, just make sure the registration process is simple and those that have registered receive reminders.
- Do a trial run
You can often tell when attending a webinar if the host is prepared. If the webinar is seamless and there are no hiccups, then you can almost guarantee that a trial run has been undertaken. A trial run will enable you to test your audio, work on timings, reduce errors and make any final tweaks to the content. Do not leave anything to chance.
- Consider recording
We don’t recommend advertising the fact the webinar will be recorded as you may find fewer members attend. The key benefit of a live webinar is the ability to interact with your audience. A recording can be a useful resource as it will give members the opportunity to refresh their knowledge.
- Join the webinar early
Joining early will allow you to keep an eye on how many members have attended, make sure guest speakers have joined and share your presentation if necessary. Don’t forget to eliminate any background noise that could be picked up by your audio. Have a back-up plan if you lose connection or if a presenter pulls out at the last minute.
- Request feedback
Getting feedback from members who attended is essential. It could help you find out if the session met expectations, what worked well and what needs improving, as well as gaining suggestions for future webinar topics.