Webinars are an effective way of sharing content with interested participants in real time and across physical boundaries. It is a dynamic and cost effective method of providing value to users/customers.
Webinars provide participants with the opportunity of interacting with experts in given fields in a collaborative and interactive manner. However creating successful webinars requires meticulous planning. This begins with defining program objectives and based upon them creating presentations that provide value, and are interesting.
I have broken down the process of developing an effective webinar in the following easy steps. Although we recommend taking the assistance of experts for developing high standard and professional webinars, the following tips would help you get a grasp of the process, so that at any point of the process you will be able to understand and evaluate the progress of the development of your webinar.
The content is at the core of any webinar. It’s only interesting, unique and useful content that would attract users, make them participate actively through the length of the seminar and then follow-up as required. You would have to check your content for the following characteristics –
- Does your content provide value to your targeted participants? It should be relevant to the interests of the participants.
- Is there any other way they can access the same content?
- A webinar serves as a platform where participants can exchange ideas. You would have to structure your content in such a way that it facilitates the same.
- Why should your participants log in to your webinar? Who is the speaker? He/she should justify the position through solid qualifications and experience.
After the groundwork has been done, you would need to decide how you will go about giving definite shape to your webinar. You have to honestly evaluate your in-house capabilities with regards to developing the webinar. A professional service provider that can partner with you in developing your webinar would ensure a quality end product and in the long run cost-effectiveness. If you do it on your own, you might spend a lot of resources in the form of time, money and manpower that could have been utilized more successfully, and the whole process would eventually turn out to be unnecessarily expensive.
You would need the following services/solutions for developing your webinar.
- Self-service e-tools for conferencing.
- Multimedia services for the webinar and also e-presentation options.
If you do not have experience handling interactive media and online programming then you should definitely get professional assistance. A full-service provider would be able to help you build a team consisting of both internal and external resources who will manage different aspects of the webinar including content development, promotion, enrollment, program management, certification, and everything in between.
After you’ve got a professional team together you can start defining the look. You have to ensure that your company is introduced with proper branding. Consequently every element of the webinar should have a uniform and professionally thought out appearance. These would include not only promotional materials like handouts but also elements like the e-registration system, event login screen and the meeting window. You should get a unique name or logo designed for the webinar that can create positive expectations for the event.
You would have to keep in mind that your participants may attend from their home or work place or any other public place. They would be exposed to a variety of distractions. You have to factor this in as you develop the content and make it substantially interactive, which would help the participants stay engaged. A tip would be to try and replicate the experience of an onsite meeting or seminar as much as possible – the focus should be on creating a dynamic and interactive learning experience. To successfully do this the program should be thought through and planned down to the minute.
Making the right selection of the person who is going to deliver the webinar is critical. Think about the requirements – in a webinar the host is not physically present in front of the participants. Hence he/she has to be creative, as well be able to spontaneously use various electronic tools to make the event interesting. This is one glaring disadvantage when compared to that of a traditional seminar. The webinar presenter cannot see the participants and modify his forthcoming actions accordingly for maximum effect. A webinar host also needs to have a suitably impressive voice which he/she can modulate for best effect. The host should be qualified for the webinar educationally and/or through experience. If your webinar has a number of presenters along with the host or moderator and they are also scattered across different locations, then you will need to plan out and go as far as scripting their interaction so that they are ready for any eventuality. Practice sessions before the actual event would be of great help.
The next stage would be deciding upon the appropriate webinar tools to be used. Some of the popularly used solutions include LiveMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, and WebEx, to mention just a few. But that doesn’t mean that you should go ahead and use any of them. This is a mistake that many people make. What you should ideally do is select a tool that fits with your goals and other requirements. You should research features that are provided by various webinar tools. Consulting an expert in the area would make the process faster and you will have a better chance of ending up with the right solution. An important element that should be considered while selecting the appropriate online solution is the number of people that are going to participate. Some tools/solution that would be useful in a typical webinar include –
- Adobe PowerPoint slide viewing area along with full annotation
- Embedded full motion video
- Complementary flash transitions
- Q&A capability to make announcements for attendees and also to communicate privately with hosts and presenters
- Interactive questioning system through which you can track individual responses
- A tool that would help create instant polls (and also display pre-created polls when required)
- Dynamic rendering of polls
- The ability for recording integrated Web audio
- A whiteboard where you can note down key points, as well as conduct interactive exercises
Of course you should not forget to ensure that elements like event marketing, registration, e-commerce solutions for any payments and downloadable material among others should be in place. Webinars may seem complicated to plan out and execute (they are!), but when done the right way they yield great dividends. Remember you don’t need to organize them on your own. Get a suitable online partner and you will be proud of the decision in the long run.