Interested in holding your own Webinar but don’t know where to start? Is it a good fit for your business and customers? Will your customers be put off by it? Could it make your company look amateurish if not done correctly? Will it be expensive?

The following are 10 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) you should ask yourself when looking to organise a Webinar.

Who’s my audience?

Some companies or organisations have ready-made audiences for their presentations. This could be a distributor network that requires updates on new products or a group that’s working on the same project from different locations. In this case, attracting your audience isn’t an issue, you just tell them when your Webinar will be and they attend. Other companies will have to think creatively and work at attracting their audience. This could be done via existing Sales Prospects, advertising (online, in trade publications), commercial lists, your existing customer base etc.

What content will attract a large audience?

If you have to attract your audience’s attention to get them to attend your Webinar, the most important thing is to make it worth their while. Their time is precious and there are lots competing for it – you need to make the content of your Webinar compelling enough for them to attend. Simply putting on a Webinar which is an online version of your standard product ‘pitch’ won’t attract people. Providing solutions to problems they may have, or giving them information which they can’t get anywhere else is more likely to get people attending. Consider the following 3 Webinar invitations from an Investment company:

Which one of these would you find most compelling? Your content should address your audience’s Needs, Fears and Wants, not describe your products and services.

How do I go about telling people about my Webinar?

The usual channel is email – you may have an existing list of customers and prospective customers – but you can also put the details on your website, advertise it in trade publications, ask for it to be included in others’ newsletters or advertise online (eg Google Adwords). Much will depend on who your audience is – some are accessible by email, while others are more accessible by other media. Some trial and error may be required to find the channels that best reach your audience.

How many people do I need to give a Webinar?

There’s nothing wrong with one person presenting a Webinar on their own, particularly if their presentation is really compelling and that person is comfortable handling the technology and presenting at the same time (eg questions the audience asks via the chat). Alternatively, you might consider introducing the following to ‘break up’ the Webinar and make it more compelling for your audience:

– a Chairperson that can introduce the presenters and handle/filter any questions that are asked (this could be a colleague)

– a Subject Matter Expert that has information and insights that your customers would like to hear

– a satisfied customer that is willing to discuss how they’ve used your products or services to their advantage

Do I need a Video camera?

Most Webinar services allow you to include Video and in some cases, this really adds to a presentation. Say, for example, you did have Warren Buffet as a guest speaker – people would probably be interested in seeing him as well as hearing him, so Video would be a really good thing. The camera need only be a simple webcam (no need for CNN to turn up in your offices), but remember that as soon as someone is on camera, they can no longer look at notes and have to stay in the camera’s view. We don’t want to put you off, but the following will have to be considered:

– can the presenter be in a location with a professional/neutral background? Nothing worse than seeing a Webinar given from someone’s kitchen

– can the presenter give the presentation without looking down at the screen below the camera? It looks very strange if the presenter is looking at an off-angle at their notes instead of the camera

– can the presenter handle the software, and their papers/desktop without having to go ‘off-camera’? Unlike the audio side, there’s no mute button for the camera.

If you’re not sure whether to use a video camera or not, don’t. You can always add video to later Webinars once your first few have run smoothly.

Do I need a telephone conference or can everyone talk through the internet?

Most Webinar services (including 247meeting) allow you to have the Presenters’ voices broadcast over the internet (Voice over IP or VoIP), or via a telephone conference call or both. The reasons for having both options was that historically VoIP may not have been sufficient quality. As good internet connectivity has improved and VoIP has improved this is no longer the case and both options are now excellent.

Which one you go for will depend more on your audience than on any technological reason. Some audiences are less likely to have speakers/headphones with their PCs (eg people in large open-plan offices or in medical professions) but most people have access to a telephone.

What’s the best way to allow Questions & Answers from the audience?

Questions & Answers can be handled in a variety of ways.

Ask people to enter questions via the chat function (simplest way); This has the advantage that the audience can’t see questions asked – you can avoid any unrelated or ‘prank’ questions

Allow people to ask questions ‘live’ either by telephone or Voice over IP (less simple way); This may be appropriate where the audience know each other or would like to hear the voice of the person asking the question. You should check your Webinar service to see if this service is offered either as part of the telephone conference (there may be a requirement for an operator to manage this) or as part of the Voice over IP. If you use the VoIP option, the speaker at the other end has to have their microphone setup correctly and a good connection, which it may not be possible to test in advance.

Can I show absolutely anything or is it just PowerPoint?

While most presentations are given using PowerPoint it’s also possible to show .pdf documents, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and anything you might have on your desktop. Bear in mind that not all the effects you have in PowerPoint (eg embedded movies, animations, sound etc) will translate well across the web, so it’s worth a dry-run with your presentation in advance.

Are my products or services suitable for Webinars?

Again, you will become the best judge of this – typically products or services that require some expertise, experience or knowledge are usually a good fit. Products that wouldn’t be appropriate for a Webinar might be stationery (“please attend our Webinar about our new range of cheap metal staples”), or groceries (“please attend our Webinar on buying milk”). That said, in the hands of a good marketer a Webinar on the ideal height for a workbench, or a Webinar on managing a balanced diet might make compelling viewing!

Where did the crazy name come from?

The origin of “Webinar” is a ‘Web Seminar’ – it combines all the benefits of having an audience hear presentations from a live speaker and asking questions afterwards but without the cost of all having to travel to the one location. Like it or hate it, “Webinar” seems to be here to stay. It’s been added to Lake Superior University’s List of Banished Words (http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php) but doesn’t appear in any dictionaries (yet!).


Ken Molay of Webinar Success goes into the name in a bit more detail here:

http://wsuccess.typepad.com/webinarblog/2008/01/webinar-webin-2.html

If you would like to organise your own Webinar, consult our Large Event Webinar solutions.

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