Webinar 101: Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Suck it up, put on the big-girl panties and host your first webinar! 

You know you should produce a webinar to extend your messaging. The problem is that you are intimidated because of the technical challenges. You think putting on a webinar is a daunting, complicated integration of technology, preparation and promotion.

Good! Because you are absolutely right.

With webinars, nothing ever seems to go right, the technology always falters at the end, and you can't find the one slide that ties everything together and someone keeps asking questions in the "chat" window.

YOU ARE SO SCREWED!

That’s why your pal Justice is here to help you minimize the damage. I’ve been to this dog park before. Follow me and you will avoid most of the big, steaming piles. It's also fair to say that I've screwed up my fair share so I've played MacGyver more than once.

Preparation prevents perspiration

For starters, ALWAYS use a major webinar tool such as GoToMeeting's "GoToWebinar" product. There are several alternatives to the service, but you might do yourself a huge disservice by using a “me-too” provider. Do your due diligence and find a vendor that is the right fit for your needs.

Think of each webinar as a creative business initiative. Determine the goals for the webinar, and the drivers for before, during and after the presentation. With a firm understanding of what you want to accomplish and how you're willing to follow up, you will know how much time you need to allocate for the project.

No matter what niche you cover, there are probably already mountains of information out there. Therefore, jumping in with a new directive on a hot topic can provide a lot of traction. If you are involved in technology, you might talk about augmented reality, new smart phone devices, or the future of some highly debated strategy or technique.

Invite active friends, fans and followers immediately. Additionally, advocate that the same individuals invite their contacts, as it could be a benefit to them as well.

If you are affiliated with any non-competing brands, ask if they will allow you to share e-mail space or lists in order to extend your messaging. Given that you have the time and the budget, it is best to construct a visually pleasing HTML e-mail with graphics and content to support your webinar.

Follow up with a second e-mail no fewer than two days before your webinar. This can be as simple as a reminder that you look forward to their participation. 

Build a kick-ass presentation

I could do 20 posts on what makes a great presentation. The primary thing you need to think about is if the presentation will live independently after the webinar on a social sharing site such as slideshare.net. If so, then it needs a good balance of visual and contextual information in order to be a great leave-behind.

Some people even create two presentations: a heavy visual presentation for the live webinar; and a second, contextual piece to share afterward.

Practice on the day before the presentation. If your webinar platform has a “rehearsal” mode – use it.

Showtime

Each of us has our own, unique presentation style. For those of you who have had an opportunity to see me present, you know I’m a lab rat pumped up on cocaine.

You don’t have to be quite so manic. But your friends, fans and followers don't want to feel “trapped” on a phone for 60 minutes. Make it entertaining. Deliver your material in a passionate, robust way that is fun, educational and thought-provoking. 

Leave at least 25 percent of your overall presentation time for questions. Prepare half a dozen questions in case no one asks anything after the presentation. Dead air is a dead audience.

If you have future webinars scheduled, use the end of your program as a time to promote the next presentation. This is also the time to invite the audience to follow you on your social channels. A “high touch” level of accessibility is something that will resonate with your audience.

After the event, use GoToWebinar (or your chosen webinar software) to follow up with all participants. Request feedback, and ask them to support your future initiatives.

What webinar tools are you using? Tell me about your successes and failures.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback. I look forward to speaking with you in the future.