Before talking about how to run an interactive webinar, let’s quickly see what is webinar and why it is useful.
A webinar is an interactive online seminar or a master class designed to educate around a clear and concise topic. Anyone with an internet connection and the necessary software can join it. Usually it lasts no more than an hour.
Now let’s see why to run an interactive webinar:
1. The first and most important benefit is flexible location. Webinars give an excellent opportunity to communicate with a target audience and share a valuable info with them without being in the same venue.
2. Another benefit is flexible format. The content can be recorded and shared/repurposed.
3. One more benefit is better organized two-way interaction. Participants have direct access to the speaker. In case of any questions, they can ask in real time without any obstacles. However, there are better ways for that and we will talk about them later in the article.
4. As statistics show, webinars increase understanding of your products and services by 74% and turn 40% of participants into qualified leads.
5. Webinars are cost effective compared with in-person events.
Now it’s time to go through some essential guides that will help you run a really interactive webinar going off without a hitch.
1. Choose an appropriate webinar platform
One of the most challenging and important guides to have a successful webinar is to carefully choose the platform where you are going to host the webinar.
There are a lot of webinar platforms today, with their pros and cons, features such as the number or type of attendees that are going to register for the event.
You should select the platform taking into consideration all of that features: how many people are going to take part in the event, is the registering process user friendly or not, how participants are going to join the webinar (through their computers or tablets and smartphones). Also there are webinar platforms that are filled with advertisements that may be really annoying.
So you should consider all the things and choose the platform that works best for you.
Here I will leave a list of the best webinar platforms of 2019 for you to look through.
2. Identify the format of the webinar
Now it’s time to determine the format of the webinar: Is it going to be an online seminar, a workshop or an interactive panel? You should also identify the length of the webinar. Usually it lasts no more than an hour, but can also go as long as two hours including Q&A.
You need to also craft an agenda and decide the topic, trying to choose the one that will get the participants excited about the webinar.
Try to focus on a specific topic and cover it in detail rather than create a general presentation on a broad one.
Next, prepare slides and make sure that they are clear and visually appealing to your audience. Include animations for each point. Spend some time to create your presentation materials.
One more thing you should consider is how many people are going to run the event, whether there is a need of one or more speakers, a moderator to interview the speaker and organize Q&A, or someone who is responsible for technical issues.
All these are things you should care about when organizing an interactive webinar.
3. Promote your webinar through different channels
Once you planned the format, it’s time to focus on promotion. Use different channels to deliver the word about your webinar to the maximum number of attendees. Include email campaigns, social media channels, online forums, as well as your website blog page.
Email and organic social media promotions are the most effective ways to word out your webinar. It will be effective to start email promotions 3-2 weeks before the event.
Send 3 emails. One invitation-email which would be the first to go and two follow-ups.
Paid social media promotions drive registration for webinar too.
Prepare a landing page with information about the webinar topic and speaker(s), date and time, as well as add a convincing call-to-action for people to sign up.
To engage attendees online you can also create an inclusive branded hashtag.
4. Engage your webinar audience
To have a really interactive webinar, you should increase audience engagement as much as possible.
While focusing on your script, don’t forget to engage the participants during the webinar through different ways. For example, in the beginning you can break the ice by preparing live polls and open-ended questions asking your audience members about their background or expectations regarding the webinar.
Next, you will initiate audience engagement activities after every 3-4 slides to make sure participants are with you and understand the presented content properly. Again, you can do that with the help of live polls and gather valuable feedback.
To organize all of this you need to choose an appropriate platform and Swift Polling can be a great solution here. It’s a real-time audience engagement and research tool, which enables you to create multiple choice, open-ended and word cloud live questions. You can ask your audience to vote either through web or sms.
Moreover, if you are going to prepare slides for your webinar, Swift allows you to insert live polls in your presentation slides and display the results being generated in real time.
5. Collect questions and answer them
Q&A is an inseparable part of every meeting and an interactive webinar is not an exception. Leave some time at the end of the webinar to address the questions of your audience.
Moreover, with the help of the mentioned audience engagement platform (Swift Polling) you can organize Q&A with some upgraded features: enable participants to send their questions online at any time of the webinar. This method is more advantageous than the traditional one.
Let’s see why:
1. People send their questions when those come to their minds and the content is still fresh.
2.Introverted and shy participants who otherwise would not speak up, will be able to ask questions too.
You can either address the questions after some intervals,let’s say after presenting a special point or leave all the questions to answer at the end of the webinar.
If there is also a moderator besides a speaker, s/he can filter the questions that are of the highest priority, display them distinctively and address accordingly.
6. Don’t forget to follow-up
Even after that one hour of the webinar you still have some tasks ahead, such as gathering new email addresses in you general database and follow-up with webinar participants.
After the webinar, send a short note to your audience members and thank them for joining the call. You can also attach the link to the video recording, attach any materials and follow up on promised points if applicable.
If you find these guides helpful, follow them when organizing your next interactive webinar and let us know about your experience.