When it comes to hosting a webinar, there’s a lot to think about. What should I talk about? Should someone else be there as a panelist? How long should the actual webinar be?
These, plus a million other questions, will run through your mind in the days and weeks before your webinar. But don’t stress! If you plan ahead and steer clear of a few common mistakes, your webinar is going to be a hit.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, marketers say webinars are one of the most effective content marketing tactics. Here at GoToWebinar, we know webinars can be your number one source of leads and audience engagement … as long as you avoid these deadly webinar mistakes of course.
Mistake #1: You don’t have the right speakers
Picking interesting speakers and panelists can be tricky. You want to make sure you find thought leaders, storytellers, and experienced panelists. You also want panelists who are comfortable speaking in front of people. Things are going to get awkward really fast if you have a panelist that is boring, sounds like they’re reading a script, or just plain bad at speaking to an audience.
To ensure you select engaging panelists, check if they’ve done previous webinars, videos, or have had public speaking experience. Trust me, it won’t matter if you got the most interesting, qualified person on your webinar if they put your audience to sleep.
I recommend using two to four presenters for most types of webinars. This gives your audience different perspectives and provides a more dynamic experience than if using a single presenter. Each speaker should also have some pull – they need to bring something to the table that attracts your audience and, of course, you want them to have a large social following. It’s nice to be able to use your speakers’ social presence to promote the event and extend your reach.
So to summarize, when you’re deciding on speakers consider these three things:
- Their story/perspective/expertise
- Their public speaking skills
- Their reach
Mistake #2: Your topic is a snooze
Choosing the right topic is the most important part of the equation. Think about what topics your audience is interested in and what kind of information they’re seeking.
Then choose the topics best suited to the webinar format. If your topic could be better communicated through a blog post or eBook, it’s not the right topic. A webinar is a completely unique medium that is visual and interactive, so take advantage. Webinars are great for product demos, panel discussions, Q&As, tutorials, live audits, and workshops. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
If you need inspiration for topics, try:
- Checking trending topics on social media
- Finding out what questions prospects are asking your sales reps
- Looking at your most popular content and blog posts
- Seeing what your competitors are doing
Mistake #3: Your webinar isn’t interactive
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of webinars as a speaker talking at a silent audience with some slides — that’s what bad webinars look like. The best webinars allow for two-way communication between panelists and the audience. Engaging webinars also use a combination of media and features to keep things interesting.
One way to make your webinar more interactive is to use chat features so your audience can ask the panelists questions in real time. Other GoToWebinar features that boost audience engagement include:
- Virtual hand-raising
- Webcam sharing so your audience can actually see your speakers
- Polls (also giving you valuable data!)
Mistake #4: Your webinar is one big sales pitch
I know you want your webinar to generate leads and sales, but making that your sole focus is a big webinar mistake. Prioritize your audience ahead of your lead generation goals, and create a webinar that’s interesting and useful to your attendees. Trust me, the leads will come.
“Webinars are not about selling,” says Mike Agron, a webinar demand generation expert and co-founder of WebAttract, “they are about stimulating someone’s intellectual curiosity, teaching them something and inspiring them to want to have a conversation. Then you can determine how you can help them and convert them from a prospect to a customer.”
Put simply, your webinar should not be a hard sell and it shouldn’t be all about you. It should serve as a starting point for future dialogue with potential customers.
Mistake #5: Your presentation looks terrible
Keep it simple. Your entire script doesn’t need to be included in your slides. And you shouldn’t try and cram in too much content. When putting together your presentation, summon your inner Steve Jobs and think, “Less is more.” Steve Jobs was famous for highly effective presentations. His rule: a PowerPoint should never have more than 40 words. For example, his iPhone presentation used 19 words across 12 slides.
Create clean, captivating slides that are not too text-heavy. Use platforms like Canva, Prezi, SlideRocket, and Keynote to make your slides more dynamic. But remember – less is more.
Mistake #6: Your webinar is at the wrong time
There is a right time and a wrong time for every webinar. While dates and times may vary by the audience, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays work best for most attendees. In general, try to stay away from crazy Mondays and unproductive Fridays. And obviously, 99.9% of people are not going to attend a webinar on the weekend. But do some tests and see what days work best for your audience.
Most attendees also prefer webinars in the afternoon. Attendance is usually higher for webinars that take place during lunch or in the afternoon than webinars in the morning or evening.
Mistake #7: You didn’t practice
This isn’t improv class; you’re allowed to prepare … and you should. Write a solid script or speaking points at the very least, and go through it over and over again. Once it’s practically memorized, it won’t sound rehearsed. Even though you’ve heard it a million times, it will sound natural and conversational to your audience. You may also want to do some practice sessions so you feel comfortable talking in front of a computer.
Mistake #8: You didn’t promote enough
This isn’t a Field of Dreams, build-it-and-they-will-come situation. You have to promote your webinars. Spread the word using your social channels, email, and banners or CTAs on your website. Even your sales reps can help spread the word by mentioning your webinars in their prospecting emails.
Make sure your webinar partners have all the materials they need when it comes to links, landing pages, and messaging so they can promote to their audience and networks.
Finally, don’t stop promoting once your webinar is over. Marketers are getting tons of ongoing value from on-demand webinars. Once you have your webinar recording, continue to drive traffic through all the channels listed above.
Mistake #9: You didn’t have a communication plan
People need reminders, otherwise they’ll forget, and you’ll have low attendance. So don’t feel bad about sending multiple reminders. If it makes you feel better, 64% of participants prefer to receive a reminder one day before a webinar.
Here’s a simple email schedule/communication plan leading up to a webinar:
- Send out invites about a week before the event
- Send a confirmation email
- Create a reminder email in addition to the confirmation email
- Send out a reminder email one day prior to the event
- Send out a reminder email three hours prior to the event
Mistake #10: You didn’t include a call-to-action
Without a clear and direct CTA, you aren’t going to get the outcome you want. At the end of your webinar, remember to tell your attendees to download a whitepaper, visit your website, use a discount code, etc.
Also, make sure to also follow-up with attendees as well as the registrants who didn’t make the live event. Give everyone access to the recorded webinar and slides, and create a follow-up plan where you’ll continue to send them additional information, content, and offers. Your webinar started a conversation, don’t let that conversation die.
It may feel like you just drank from the fire hose, but I promise, you can do it! As you prepare for your next webinar, take it one step at a time, avoid these common webinar mistakes, and you’ll be fine. The most important thing is to remember your audience. If they’re your first thought when making decisions, you’ll probably make the right one.