9 Ways to Prepare for Hosting a Webinar Natalie Slyman Oh, webinars. We’ve talked about them frequently on our blog. How to put together the perfect webinar. How to convert webinar leads to customers. How to grow your email list with webinars. I could go on, but I’ll spare you. As I’m sure you already know, webinars are an effective way to showcase your knowledge of a subject, gain new followers and leads, and cement your reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Those wonderful perks, however, cannot be achieved if you don’t adequately prepare and plan for your webinar. There are a number of things you should do in preparation to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Let’s dive right into what those nine things are. 1. Assign Roles There’s a lot to do when it comes to hosting a webinar. It’s in your best interest to allocate roles so everyone involved understands what they should be doing. Here are some questions to answer: Who is the host of the webinar? Who will be presenting? Who’s going to be putting together the deck? Who’s going to be supplying the outline for the deck? Who’s creating any social images for promotion? Who’s creating the email and other promo materials? Also, consider whether you’ll need assistance in setup and during the big event, too. 2. Think About the Format You’ll definitely want to evaluate the flow of the webinar and the way you’ll be presenting the topic. Some webinars are more straightforward, with one host and a short Q&A at the end. While that may be standard, that isn’t exactly how you have to do it every time. Consider the following: Will there be more than one speaker? Will there be a discussion panel? Will there be interviews? Will audience members be participating? Will you be adding survey questions to the presentation? Will your speakers want to show their faces? The more speakers there are, or the more complicated the setting, the more you’ll need to train and rehearse to ensure that everything runs effortlessly. Make sure that the webinar is content rich with a focus on being informative rather than just trying to sell a product or service. 3. Decide on Timing Now it’s time to think about when you want to have the webinar. Since they’re typically live, you’ll want to lock down some details before committing to a date. Ensure the following: All necessary parties are available It doesn’t clash with any other major calendar event Will it be held during standard working hours, or is it an after-hours webinar? How long will it run for? When the date is confirmed, plan for a marketing strategy countdown approximately four to six weeks prior to the webinar, so there is no chance anyone misses out due to a lack of information or publicity. 4. Choose Webinar Software Determine the pros and cons of the top webinar tools on the market based on the format as well as the intended number of speakers and participants. Take into account the cost and what features you’ll want or require. A big pro is making sure there’s a recording to give registrants after the webinar. So, make sure you use a software that records your broadcast. I don’t suggest charging for the webinar, as that will deter people from registering. There are some great resources out there, like Crowdcast and Zoom, but make sure you do thorough research so you can pick the platform that will serve your needs best. 5. Organize Visuals Visuals play a significant role in your webinars. They keep people engaged and can be extremely informative. But, they must act as a method to enhance the topic and not take the spotlight away from the speaker. I like to make sure there’s a visual on each slide of the presentation, with a basic image for the title page. I typically use some iteration of that title page image in all the promo elements as well. 6. Write an Agenda As soon as you have the process mapped out in your head, write it down. This will help ensure you don’t leave anything out. As a host, a detailed agenda will enable you to stick to a timeline. It will also mean that the speakers are on the same page and have a clear understanding of deadlines and dates for practice sessions. 7. Practice the Webinar As there are many moving parts to a webinar, aim for at least one or more practice sessions. These sessions should be complete with full visuals and sound, so the speakers, facilitators, and administrators understand the part they have to play. This will help in prepping the individual spaces to limit any background noise. Run-throughs will serve to minimize the risk of technology failures and guarantee the speakers are confident in the setup. Make sure you add any speaker notes to the slides, too. As that will help indicate how long each slide will be addressed. 8. Prepare for a Q&A A question and answer segment can be one of the most important segments of the webinar and will ensure that all audience members are 100% satisfied and informed. Confirm that the speakers are willing to respond to any questions at the end of the session and have a nominated assistant available to prompt the audience if none are forthcoming. It is recommended to have a few questions prepared to get the ball rolling. Don’t be shy about asking registrants to submit their questions before the webinar kick-off. 9. Promo the Webinar When you are ready to spread the word, you will need to come up with a promotion plan to get the word out and get registrants. Consider all your options – descriptive texts, press releases, relevant hashtags, vlogs, blog posts, informative banners, newsletter emails, and social media posts to publicize the webinar thoroughly. Set up a landing page on your site with a form to fill out for registrants. List the necessary details, FAQs, speaker names, headshots, and bios, so registrants have all the information possible. As a host, you can never be too prepared. Your attention to detail and behind the scenes preparation will increase the likelihood of a smooth, professional webinar with well-engaged listeners, which can lead to more registrants for your next webinar.