The coronavirus pandemic has not only put an end to live theatre and sports but business events, too. Conferences, exhibitions, and networking lunches have been postponed until further notice and businesses that rely on workshops and training sessions have had to adapt. The good news is that, at least in the business world, online alternatives can bridge the gap. Below, we’ve rounded up some advice to ensure your webinars run smoothly…
Market your event in advance
It’s easy to assume that online events held on YouTube or Skype will attract high attendance figures. After all, you’re giving up your time and offering your expertise for free. But the truth is, professionals are tired of sitting on endless video conferences – Zoom fatigue is real. It’s also common for people to register for online events and forget about them, or have their diaries clash at the last minute, meaning you’ll be speaking to half a dozen attendees rather than the expected 100. Therefore, marketing upcoming events in advance is vital. Send out a notice to your mailing list, leverage social media, and promote your Eventbrite page on LinkedIn. The more eyeballs on your event page, the more will tune in when you do go live.
And for those who can’t make it, or indeed say they’ll attend but fail to show up, recording your events is a great way to increase engagement. Uploading an entire webinar to YouTube ensures interested parties don’t have to miss out. Putting the link behind a call to action will help you capture email addresses for future marketing campaigns, whether in B2B or B2C.
Planning is everything
Once you’ve decided you’re going to host an online webinar, the next step is to plan, plan, and plan some more. Unlike events in the real world, where you’d get away with informalities and some room to breathe, online events are much more intimate. Remember: you’ll be appearing in your attendees’ living rooms and offices, so it’s vital you’re well-rehearsed and don’t waste time. If you start trailing off or forgetting key points, attendees will disengage.
It’s also wise to prepare a couple of backup plans and audience activities, should you run into technical difficulties or finish sooner than planned. Polls are a great way to engage without needing direct interaction, whilst miniature networking events could be useful in B2B.
Be clear on what the event will involve
Something else to bear in mind when promoting your event online is to be clear on exactly what you will be covering. It’s tempting to be vague if you’ve yet to iron out the final details of your upcoming event, but breaking down the particulars of your event will serve you well. If you’re super organised, you could even offer timestamp estimations so busy attendees can check-in when you’re covering a topic that’s relevant to them, and log out when you’re done.
It’s also vital that you break down the software attendees will need. Choose a live-streaming that’s familiar, whether that be Zoom, Skype, Facebook, or YouTube, and lay out some clear expectations. Will guests appear on camera? Do they need to prepare anything to benefit? Will there be an opportunity to ask questions, or should they submit them in advance?
Serve your attendees well
Live events are an ideal opportunity to meet clients or potential leads face-to-face and get to grips with their challenges. But it’s vital that you understand their expectations before you get started. Sending out a questionnaire or running polls on social media can help you leverage interest in different topics and themes, and you can build live webinars around the results.
Adding a question and answer session to the end of your talk is also beneficial; attendees can share stories, and you can share expertise. Opening up the debate to users online who can’t attend the webinar is also wise. Q&As can be repurposed on YouTube and your blog.
Look out for common drop-off points
Finally, if you’re hosting a series of webinars or the same webinar for different audiences or timezones, use analytics tools and social media monitoring to determine common drop-off points. When do people leave your webinar? When does engagement plummet? Over time, as your confidence as a host grows and you become more competent with live streaming technology, you can refine your scripts and delivery to offer more effective live experiences.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zudu has been hosting live conferences covering everything from digital marketing to international expansion. For updates on our upcoming sessions, follow us on Twitter @ZuduDigital, and check back to the blog soon.