Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Webinar How To

"Webinar How To" is our introductory article on how to host successful webinars. In "Webinar How To" you'll get an overview of the webinar process and you'll learn a step-by-step methology for producing effective webinars.

Selecting a Webinar Platform

We use GoToWebinar.com exclusively. GoToWebinar is used by so many webinar presenters that a large base of webinar attendees are already familier with its viewer controls. We like GoToWebinar's automatic emails before and after webinars, the poll feature, and the ability to easily record our webinars to video.

If GoToWebinar is beyond your current webinar budget then you might check out two free webinar tools: Cool Conference Live and DimDim. Both offer a full range of features and are a good way to get one's webinar feet wet.

Preparing for a webinar

Develop a basic script to be followed and/or read during the webinar. We developed a standard fill-in-the-blanks script. After filling in the title, names, and future webinar details, we have a ready to read aloud script. Reading a prepared script helps eliminate annoying verbal pauses like "Um...."

Prepare a set of standard webinar slides for use before and after the webinar proper. We have slides to announce the webinar will be starting shortly, that a three question poll will occur, and to announce the next webinar.

Develop a webinar checklist. The actions in this article are a good starting point. We print out our webinar checklist before every webinar and faithfully follow the cheklist step-by-step. AS you host your first webinars, don't forget to add to your checklist.

Running your webinar

Login and start your webinar software about 15 minutes early. We use a standard slide with our logo and corporate colors to announce the webinar will be starting shortly.

Send a brief welcome message to each attendee as they login, if possible.

Take time to welcome your attendees and review any technical aspects of the webinar software. We review how to hide the control panel which sometimes blocks slides. We also announce the chat and question panes will be monitored for questions during the webinar.

Provide a photo and read a short biography to introduce your webinar speaker.

Monitor the webinar while the speaker is presenting. Some software indicates when a hand is raised or similar. You'll want to respond to an attendees requests in a timely fashion, even if only to remind their questions will be answered at the end.

Use built in polls or survey tools to collect basic data on the webinar and presenter.

Finally, remind your attendees of the next webinar scheduled. We provide the title, date, time, and webinar number on a slide.

What to do after a webinar

Immediately after a webinar, I take time to debrief with the webinar presenter. We usually discuss any technical issues and review our plans to follow up with webinar attendees. If the webinar presenter will be presenting another webinar for us, we also remind the presenter of the date and time for the next webinar.

If your webinar software records the webinar to audio or video, immediately after the webinar is a very good time to locate the webinar audio or video file, preview it, and copy the file to any archive or permanent location.

Next you'll want to send emails to both the webinar attendees and the non-attendees. Thank the attendees and provide links to the webinar materials (slides, audio, video, etc.). Empathize with the webinar no-shows and send them links to the slides, audio and video files too. We don't know why they missed the webinar, but let's be gracious and assume the best.

We hope "Webinar How To" has provided you a good basic overview of webinars and a sequence for starting your own webinars. In future how to articles, we'll expand on the four areas above and provide more detailed and specific information, such as sample webinar scripts and checklists.

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