Webinars 101: How to Host the Best Online Conference Possible
Pick the Appropriate Platform and Know How to Use it
If you’re shopping around for the right webinar platform, clarify first what exactly it is you want to achieve in this online meeting. If you’re hosting a webinar for a client presentation, sales demo, or any other type of presentation where you may expect no more than 100 or so attendees, then you want to make sure that you use a web conferencing platform that:
- Is easy for your participants to join from anywhere in the world .
- Allows you to share and collaborate documents in real time .
- Gives you the ability to record and playback your webinar for those who couldn’t make it .
- Has reporting capabilities so that you can track who did and did not show up for your meeting.
An audio and web solution would be a perfect fit in this case as it allows local as well as international clients to join (via local access numbers specific to their location), share PowerPoint presentations and your website, record the meeting for those who couldn’t make it and track everyone’s attendance from the moment you send out the invite through the end of your meeting. Many remote collaboration providers offer complimentary training sessions on their webinar products so that you can take advantage of all the bells and whistles their tools offer while hosting your meeting.
If you’re hosting a type of training – product, HR, educational, etc. then you might want to look for a webinar platform that offers such tools:
- Live polling and Q&A .
- Social media integration.
- Registration process .
- Audio and video streaming .
- Operator attendance.
Hosting bigger audiences doesn’t mean that a webinar has to be less personal or interactive – based on the nature and size of your meeting you could use video to recreate more of a face-to-face feel to your meeting. Many webinar platforms give you access to a number of features that can help you control even the largest of audiences and make sure group discussions stay organized and on track.
Once you know which platform you will be using, make sure that you MASTER it. Read all user guides, watch how-to videos, ask your vendor for one-on-one trainings. Host your own webinars with a group of colleagues as a dress rehearsal. And if you don’t want to bother with any of that or don’t have the time, make sure you select a provider who can take care of the production of your online event including providing live operator assistance.
Of course, part of your preparation includes knowing how to use your webinar platform. I also recommend arriving at least five minutes early to make sure you’re set up properly. Get yourself logged in, upload whatever documents you might need to present, test any videos you will be streaming, and have all of your materials ready. Be in a position to greet you participants as they arrive.
Know your audience and connect with them
Even though you are not in the same room as your audience doesn’t mean your meeting can’t have that personal feel to it. If you will be addressing an internal audience, welcome them, smile you’re your words, introduce the topic before you begin your presentation, and let them know that they matter. If your audience is external or unfamiliar to you, make sure that they are all at ease in the webinar before you start, that no one has experienced technical difficulties, and that you will do your best to accommodate each of them. Create polling questions throughout your meeting to keep your audience involved. Nobody know yours audience better than you and you’ll have the right tools at your finger tips to make it a productive, engaging, and fun throughout the webinar.
This is one of the (many) big advantages webinar hosting offers. Webinar services today have amazing reporting capabilities that capture the names and information of those registered, who actually attended and for how long, who didn’t attend, who asked questions, who left half way through, who listened to the recorded webinar, and much more. This type of detailed information is great for lead generation or even for keeping track of participants for training type webinars that require mandatory attendance.