When is a webinar not a webinar? When it’s a meeting!

Something I seem to be sharing a lot at the moment are my practical tips on how to get better outcomes from online events.  I have learned a lot from facilitating more than 200 virtual events in the last 12 months but the main thing is when you’re planning an event, you need to be clear whether you’re planning a webinar or a meeting.   Making this distinction (i.e. when is a webinar not a webinar) is essential because:

Your audience have to understand what their role is before the event

You can meet your desired outcome and set next steps to work towards  

You can communicate with more impact so you showcase your expertise to maximum effect

What is the difference between a meeting and a webinar?

Meetings make for more interactive sessions.  You can encourage lots of audience participation or break your session into smaller groups.

The type of events that lend themselves to a meeting set up are 1on1s, informal conversations, business planning, panel conversations and workshops …

… as long as everyone has their video on!

Webinars are geared for larger audiences.  Typically, attendees don’t interact with one another and cannot be viewed, and one or two people will do all the speaking although the audience can engage via the chat function.

How can you get the best possible results from a meeting or webinar?

To get the best possible outcomes from your virtual event here are some practical tips that will help with your planning, delivery and follow up:

Planning

Planning a successful online event requires 5 key ingredients:

Knowing your audience. What are their needs? What is their current level of understanding? What format – meeting or webinar – will work best for this group?

Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) objectives at the outset.

Choosing the right video platform and format.  For example, if you are not using a slide-deck Teams might be preferable to Zoom.  Or if you’re planning a large event (100 plus) and want your guests to interact, Remo would be preferable to Zoom.  Or if a panel discussion involving a number of experts is the best option, try using the ‘meeting’ mode on Zoom or Teams.

Share your materials in advance.  This make engagement easier as your attendees will know what will be covered on the day and can plan their questions in advance.

Promote your event on social media and more widely using Eventbrite.  Your success will be dependent on grabbing your audience’s attention so choose an engaging title, articulate the benefits of attending and be clear who the event is aimed at.

Delivery

When it comes to delivery, the 5 key factors are:

Know your tech and invest in a professional set up

The key areas to focus on here are the quality of your audio and camera, the lighting and your clothing (colours work best and avoid green if you are using a green screen).

Corporate branding looks more professional.  When using Zoom you will need a green screen to avoid a psychedelic appearance! Teams has an inbuilt green screen but will reverse your logo so Zoom is better if branding is important.

Engage, engage, engage

Irrespective of your audience’s prior knowledge, make sure your slides are visually engaging slides if slides are required.  Cut out the bullet points and replace them with images, schematics, photographs and words in boxes.

Live polls and asking questions also help but when you ask a question, be patient and wait for a response.  Avoid the temptation to fill the silence as silence conveys authority and confidence.

Asking people to switch on their videos at the beginning will also help your engagement levels.

Develop a voice for radio

Getting and holding your audiences’ attention online is difficult. You have to compete with more distractions (phone, email, family, pets and home deliveries) than you would in person.

This means you need to come across as enthusiastic, warm, interesting, confident and authoritative. This requires relaxed vocal cords and a friendly tone of voice.

Your ultimate goal is to make the audience feel as though you are only talking to them.  

Ignore the size of the audience and imagine you are having a conversation with one person.  If you do you will find your delivery is warmer, less scripted and you will naturally use words like ‘you’, ‘your’ ‘you know when…’ and ‘what I do is…’.

Appoint a chair

A chairperson will not only introduce you and facilitate the Q&A, they will also increase your gravitas and manage the chat facility during your talk so you’re not distracted.

Keep to the allotted time

People won’t thank you for running over and no one will ever complain because your webinar didn’t go on long enough!

Follow up

Online events are a very efficient and effective way to promote your expertise, but they are unlikely to deliver the results you want if you don’t follow up. 

If you are going to invest the time and effort to host online events you need to get into the habit of recording webinars and sharing the recordings with 3 groups:

– The people who attended the webinar

– Those who were down to attend but didn’t

– Targets who didn’t sign up but you would’ve liked them to

You can also edit your recording down to a 1 or 2 minute taster and share that via LinkedIn and YouTube.

If I had to summarise all the advice in this blog it would be this –

Have a plan (for before, during and after you event) and make engagement your no.1 goal.

Presentation skills (in person and online) training is one of Tenandahalf’s specialisms.  If you’d like to find out more about when a webinar is not a webinar (or have any other questions on any marketing or business development topics) please get in touch and we can set up your free initial consultation. 

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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