10 best practices for Online Events

Online events are becoming an increasingly popular tool for use in sales and marketing. With marketers using these events to pass on warmer leads to their sales teams. However the focus is often put on the lead generation over the quality and content of the event, which can have a detrimental effect on how warm your leads actually are.

Before you run your next webinar, take a look at our top ten webinar best practices.

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1. Show people they are in the right place

Having managed technical support on a number of webinars, one of the most common requests five minutes before an event is “Should I be seeing anything?”. The answer is typically no, and really I do not think this should be the case.

If people are not familiar with webinars they may not know everything starts on its own, so give people a warning and start streaming early or send a message into the page on which the event is hosted. That way the early birds will know they are in the right place.

2. Location, location, location

During my time running webinars I have encountered a lot of weird and wonderful situations. Some you can prepare for, some you cannot.

That being said your location can have a big implication on the smooth running of the event. Make sure that you book the room well in advance and check the connections in that room, there is nothing worse than arriving to set up and discovering the phone isn’t connected or it’s a plumbed in speaker phone that requires you to be sat at the far end of the room while your internet cable is at the other.

The reason for booking the room should be fairly obvious, nobody wants unexpected guest appearances, nor do you want to be putting signs on doors asking people to keep out. If roadworks are going on near your building try to reserve a room where the audio won’t be affected by them.

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3. Practice your content

While a webinar may seem less stressful than a presentation in front of a live audience, this certainly is not the case. I have had many presenters tell me that they are more nervous on a webinar than they would be in front of a live audience.

Do not wait until your first webinar to learn this first hand, make sure that you know and have practiced the content you are presenting, that will come across in your presentation itself.

I should add that even if you are recording the content to be played out at a later date you should still know the content. A prerecording session can go downhill very quickly if you haven’t practiced your content.

4. Be sure to remind people

Don’t assume that everyone that registers for your event is going to remember to turn up. Obviously, do everything you can at the registration stage to try and ensure they remember, such as setting calendar files. However, this isn’t guaranteed to work, between registering and the live event people may have made other plans and unfortunately your webinar may slide down the priority list.

So to get around this keep in touch with your registrants. General practice is to send a reminder 24 hours and then 1 hour before an event. These are not strict rules, if you are promoting well in advance send a reminder a month or week before the event, this way the event stays in mind.

Alternatively, if you think the one hour reminder isn’t enough of a prompt, send a reminder 10 or 15 minutes before the event.

5. Arrive early…

Always be sure to start setting up as early as possible for your event. I always say that I’d rather have 15 or 20 minutes of doing nothing than have to solve problems with only 5 minutes notice.

So get in, get comfortable and ensure the technology works. Take a look through your slides make sure nothing has been lost in translation and finally relax. That 5 minute breather may be just what you need before heading into a smooth run through of your content.

6. …try not to stay late

This is not a hard and fast rule, however if someone has signed up to a webinar that was advertised as 1 hour, try and stick to that time frame. Nobody likes to be in a position where they need to leave but don’t want to miss anything, so make sure that at the very least you cover the main bulk of the presentation in the advertised timeslot.

That being said, if the question session runs over the time, don’t immediately close the session, and make sure your webinar provider is not going to cut you off at the hour mark.

7. Have a backup for everything

Don’t take this point as me saying “It’s all going to go wrong”, however it is impossible to 100% guarantee that nothing can go wrong. So the best thing we can do is to prepare for these. Think about each potential point of failure and put a backup in place.

The most common points of failure are going to be internet connections and phone connections. So for starters make sure that you have at least 2 different connections for both.

Best practice suggests that you should have a wired internet connection and a landline telephone. This is absolutely true, however if your backup is a Wi-Fi connection and a mobile that is better than nothing. But please make sure the mobile is charged.

8. Give clear instructions

One of the most appealing things about a webinar is the opportunity to interact. This is somewhat let down if people don’t know how.

This depends largely on the format of your event, but if you are holding a question and answer session or you are running polls, be sure to give people clear guidance on how it will work. I would suggest including it in the opening speech and then at the appropriate time during the broadcast.

Additionally, tell people how to ask for help, and make sure that there is a distinct difference between asking a question of the presenter and asking a support related question.

9. Plant some seeds

One of the most common features of a webinar is a question and answer session. However, attendees are often a little slow to submit questions. This may be due to not being certain that they are anonymous or simply they are glued to the content (which is great!).

So this may result in having no questions at the start of the session, so it is always worth having some seed questions to begin with, this usually gets the creative juice of your audience flowing. It also gives you an easy transition into the questions session.

10. You’re not finished yet

Don’t think of an online event as a point in time presentation. Make sure that the content is recorded and is hosted for future viewing. Most online event providers will offer this service and it is a great way to keep the content alive.

However, having the content there is one thing but if people do not know its there then your viewing numbers will stay quite low. So send out another email or two. I would recommend sending an email as soon as the content is up, and maybe a follow up email early the week after just as a reminder.

So there you have our top 10 best practices for online events. Do you think we’ve missed anything? Has your experience taught you other lessons? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

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