smb-tech-trendsHave you ever put on a webinar for your small business?  Webinars –  versus  web conferencing, which we know you are employing, based on our Spiceworks Unified Communications survey – are seminars delivered over the web.

Webinars can be an extremely effective way for your small business to convey thought leadership or demonstrate how to use a new product or service. You also can use webinars for training your team who may work remotely.  Participants need only a computer or tablet or smartphone and a headset or phone handset for audio to join. Webinars also enable participants to access the information at a later date if they need a refresher.

Plan for a successful webinar

The success of your webinar depends on your preparation, management, and follow up. Here are seven tips to ensure your webinar gets the results you want:

Have a clear message and purpose:  Whether you are announcing a new product or discussing changes in your industry, be clear about the purpose of your event and your desired outcome.

Set a convenient time and date: Make sure to pick a time and date that doesn’t conflict with a holiday or another industry event. Select a time that is convenient for all participants, some of whom may be geographically dispersed. Also recognize that regardless of the time you set, some participants will be late. Best to schedule your webinar 15 or so minutes before it actually begins to allow for latecomers.

Computer keyboard webinarSend out invites well ahead of time: Whether the webinar is for customers or internal use, send out an invitation a few weeks before. Follow up with reminders and advance information or an agenda so participants know what to expect and what they will  take away.

Create compelling content: Provide insights and facts that will be of interest and helpful to participants and are not simply a promotion for your products and services. Open with a hook that immediately gets everyone’s attention, such as a revelation about the industry or little known facts about the marketplace. Consider having a second speaker to mix it up a bit and retain the interest of your audience.  It could be a customer, partner or supplier who can provide a different perspective.  Avoid cluttered slides; speak to bullet points and embellish them with visuals. You might even want to include a short video clip. Also use strong subheads to maintain attention. Some webinar tools enable participants to fill in surveys or answer questions, which can help to strengthen their engagement and active participation.

Rehearse: Run through your presentation well in advance of the day with all the participants if you have more than one to ensure a smooth delivery. Make sure everyone knows how to use the webinar software you choose and that the audio is clear whether over a traditional phone line or VoIP. You’ll want to use a high quality headset for the best audio delivery. Also remind everyone to be sure to eliminate any background noises during the presentation.

Leave time for questions: Make sure there’s time for questions at the end.  You might want to prepare answers to questions you know will be inevitable and include them in the wrap-up even before you open the webinar to a Q and A.

Include a call to action:  The purpose of your webinar is to encourage action. End your event with a call to action – ask participants to contact your small business for a one-on-one meeting or sales demonstration or download a white paper for more information.   You might even do a raffle of a product for those who stay until the end.

Webinars can be an excellent tool for communication and a strategic component to your content marketing effort. Think about the audience and create an experience that is well worth their time.