A webinar is one of the best ways to differentiate your brand and position yourself as a thought leader. You can share your own expertise or host a panel of established influencers. Either way, a webinar will bring your thought leadership content to life…while generating new leads and brand awareness of course. In fact, 88% of technology buyers said thought leadership was important or even critical when determining a shortlist of vendors.
But some “thought leadership” webinars are doing more harm than good. We’ve all been to those webinars where either the speakers are boring, the visuals are garbage, the content is superficial, or it’s a combination of all three.
Don’t let this be you. Here are six major don’ts when doing a thought leadership webinar.
1. DON’T pick any topic and call it thought leadership
Real thought leadership offers a unique perspective or opens the audience’s eyes up to something new. It proves you’re on the cutting edge in your industry. And, most importantly, it provides information that can’t be found with a quick Google search.
As you choose a topic for your thought leadership webinar, try to offer a new perspective on a relevant topic within your area of expertise and provide analysis to back it up. Above all, make sure it provides real value to your audience. This type of content will build audience trust and, in the long term, earn their business.
2. DON’T forget takeaways
While thought leadership isn’t usually tactical advice, you should provide your audience with a takeaway—something they can apply to their work. The last thing you want is for attendees to log out of the webinar and forget about you and everything you talked about. By providing a takeaway, you help them take the next step.
Your takeaways should tell your audience what they should do with the information you’ve provided. It should show them how to begin exploring the new possibilities you’ve presented. And it should encourage them to come back to you for more valuable information.
3. DON’T ramble
… or get off topic. If you get sidetracked talking about your latest trip to Niagara Falls or get a little too detailed on Google’s latest algorithm, you’re going to lose your audience.
Before the webinar, create a basic outline of the content and share it with all your panelists. This way, as your speakers develop their part of the presentation, they’ll know how it fits into the webinar as a whole.
You want passionate speakers, but sometimes passion can derail the flow of your webinar if a panelist goes off on a tangent. Have a good moderator who can keep the topic on track.
Questions and comments will come up that may also alter the direction of your webinar. In some ways, that’s what makes a webinar so great—it’s a dynamic experience that changes according to human interaction. But at a certain point, it needs to be put in check. While you want your webinar to be a dialogue, versus a monologue, your moderator can ensure the discussion supports the purpose of the webinar. They can field applicable questions to certain panelists, or help panelists stay on topic by avoiding excessive tangents.
4. DON’T wing it
Know your panelists’ presentation styles. Just because they are knowledgeable on a certain subject, it doesn’t mean they’re good speakers who know how to tell a story. So before the webinar, find out how comfortable your panelists are public speaking and then plan practice sessions accordingly.
Here are four steps to help you effectively practice and prepare:
- Make sure everyone is comfortable with the webinar technology, meaning they know how to share their screen, turn on their webcam, mute themselves and pass presenter controls.
- See how engaging your speakers are and give them pointers to improve. Do they talk too fast or slow? Do they need to show more personality? If you’re presenting, record yourself and you’ll quickly spot areas to improve.
- Practice those transitions. It can be tough transitioning from one topic or speaker to another. Your webinar should flow naturally and build on itself. Make sure your transitions are smooth and help keep the audience wanting more.
- Edit the content. Is there too much detail in one section but not enough in another. Do you need to bring data to life with a real-life example? Are there key takeaways? Prepare your webinar content well enough in advance so you have time to edit.
The bottom line is that you don’t want to be caught off guard and neither do your panelists. Make sure everyone involved knows what is expected of them and help them prepare as much as possible.
5. DON’T promote yourself
I know it’s tempting to promote yourself during your webinar. But it’s not worth it. The main goal of the webinar is to establish yourself as a leader in your field. If your audience feels like you’re just trying to sell to them, you’ll lose their trust and their interest. Focus on providing value. Once you earn your audience’s trust, you’ll earn their business. If you think of thought leadership as a long-game strategy, your webinar will be much more successful.
6. DON’T stay on the surface
Thought leadership is all about diving deep into a topic. And with a webinar, you have the unique opportunity to use visuals, audio, and interactive elements to tell your story. If you want to stay on the surface, a blog post is a great option. But a thought-leadership webinar can and should go deeper than a blog post.
It’s really easy to cover a topic broadly; that’s why everyone is doing it. Put in some extra effort and really dive into a more niche topic. You’ll create a better webinar, and you’ll provide more value to your attendees.
Remember, thought leadership is all about showing, not telling. So without giving away the cow, give attendees enough valuable insights and takeaways to make them feel more competent on a given subject. If they feel smarter and better informed at the end of your webinar than they did before it, you’ve done your job.