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10 steps to hosting a successful webinar

Last Updated 
Posted on
October 7, 2020
Emily Desrosiers

As many aspects of today’s world turn more and more digital, marketing experts have found innovative ways to educate, train, and inspire virtually without compromising the audience experience. Webinars are a popular tactic to generate leads, engage with an audience of prospects and customers, and position your company as a thought leader and expert in its industry.

If you’re considering to host a webinar, these questions may be flooding your brain:

  • How do I choose which topic to talk about?
  • How do I ensure people will register?
  • How do I choose presenters?
  • How do I promote a webinar?
  • What should I do following a webinar?

Follow these 10 steps to plan and host an impactful webinar that results in new leads and prospects for your business to connect with and convert into customers.

How to plan and host a successful webinar

While a select few webinars result in major success for a brand, many fall flat with low attendance and high drop-off rates during the live event. In fact, 78% of webinars have 50 or fewer attendees. But not to worry! With some thoughtful planning, promotion, and follow-up, your webinar can spark some major traction and high registration rates.

Get started with these 10 simple steps to achieve webinar victory:

1. Select a strong topic

The first step to hosting a successful webinar is to choose a strong topic for the discussion.

You want to ensure this is a topic your target audience is truly interested in and that would be a commonly searched-for topic on search engines and YouTube.

While a topic may sound compelling to you, it may not be a topic your audience would bat an eye at, nonetheless block out time in their day to attend. There are effective ways to discover which topics your audience cares about.

Harry Potter Does Not Care GIF

Here are effective ways to discover which topics your audience cares about:

  • Run a poll or Q&A that asks your audience to either choose from a list of topics or to answer freely.
  • Take a look at your Google Analytics or reporting tool to identify the keywords that perform the best and align your topic to this. Once you identify your topic, you can start refining the details.

2. Choose the right day and time

According to Outgrow, webinars conducted in the morning are 93% more successful. Schedule your webinar for somewhere between 9:00-11:00 am for optimal sign-ups, and more importantly, attendance.

Take a look at the demographics of your audience and keep in mind details such as their time zone—it may differ from yours!

What Time Is It GIF

3. Recruit speakers and a support team

Next up on the list is to recruit speakers for the webinar—preferably experts in the topic that will be discussed. This is often a great opportunity to connect with leaders in your industry and broaden your connections. Social media platforms, specifically LinkedIn, can be a great tool for finding and connecting with potential speakers. Don’t forget to look internally as well. There are experts in your company who should definitely deserve a place in the spotlight to share their advice and expertise.

You’ll also need one or two people from your team to support the webinar logistics. Zoom is a popular webinar tool that many teams choose because of its reliability and ease of use.

Roles in a Zoom webinar include:

  1. Host: The host of the webinar will have full permissions to manage the webinar, speakers, and attendees. The host can do things like stop and start the webinar, mute panelists, stop panelists’ video, remove attendees from the webinar, and more.
  2. Moderators: Typically, the moderator is the first person attendees will hear when the webinar begins. Moderators set the stage by introducing the host and speakers and discussing housekeeping items such as follow-up instructions and Q&A logistics. They are also often responsible for monitoring the chat (if there is one enabled), facilitating the Q&A, recording the webinar, and making sure things run smoothly with audio and video.
  3. Speakers/Panelists: The experts in the topic that will be the main presenters. The sweet spot for this role is generally between 2-4 people.
  4. Attendees: The term for the people who sign up and attend the webinar.

4. Create your marketing plan

Included in your marketing plans should be organic promotions on social media, email marketing, and dedicate a portion of your advertising budget to gather registrations. These materials should all link back to a branded landing page that details the event and includes a form for registration.

According to GoToWebinar, 57% of all webinar registrations come from email—which is a huge number when you consider the dozens of avenues available. Keep this in mind when planning how much time to invest in each mode of promotion.

Your email should include:

  1. An optimized header
  2. The title, topic, date, and time of the webinar
  3. A brief description of points and the solutions the webinar will provide
  4. A link to the registration page
  5. The names of the speakers and links to their websites or bios
  6. One compelling call-to-action
  7. A ‘Thank you for registering’ automated response email

Send out an email once a week leading up to the webinar, and one the day before as a last call.

5. Plan ahead

Planning ahead helps to assemble all of the content and information together in a cohesive way in order to drive registrations.

Give yourself at least 3-4 weeks to promote and prepare for the webinar properly. But keep in mind that, according to GoToWebinar, 59% of attendees register in the week leading up to the event, and 17% of those register on the day of the webinar (that’s why those emails are so important).

6. Create branded materials for your presenters

You want to ensure your company is properly represented throughout the entire presentation. If you’re using a tool like Google Slides or PowerPoint, be sure to incorporate your logo and branded assets like font, color theme, and graphics style throughout the presentation.

You may need to coordinate with the speakers to collaborate on the presentation and ensure all brands (if there is more than one being showcased) are accounted for. Slides Carnival has beautiful free Google Slide themes to get you started.

Branded PowerPoint Presentation Example

7. Get the word out

Now it’s time to start spreading the word. Share promotional materials on their respective platforms and encourage speakers and other team members to share the upcoming event on their own personal pages to increase registration numbers.

Speaking of registration numbers, it’s recommended to have a goal number of registrations when promoting your webinar. This is a great way to measure the success of your efforts and adjust course for future events.

According to HubSpot, webinars typically result in 44% of pre-registrants actually attending the live event. To determine how many registrants you will need for your goal, think ahead to how many actual attendees you want.

8. Schedule a dry run

Anywhere from a week to 3 days prior to the webinar, schedule a dry-run with everyone involved to make sure everybody feels comfortable within their role. Hosts, moderators, and presenters should become familiar with the webinar tool you’ve chosen, and speakers can practice going through the presentation to reduce awkward transitions. Be sure to have a couple of team members act as attendees to smooth out any kinks.

Pro-Tip: Make sure your presenters and moderators are visible on video. Seeing a person’s face while presenting is more engaging and leads to longer audience retention rates.

9. Increase engagements with polls and Q&As

If the webinar tool you’re using allows for it, include polls and time for a Q&A to keep your audience engaged and to keep the discussion rolling. By incorporating interactive polls throughout the webinar, you can learn more about how your audience relates to the topic.

The moderator should keep tabs on the questions that come through both the chat and the dedicated Q&A section, and relay them to the speakers for answers.

Pro-Tip: Incorporate a giveaway into your webinar! Partner with your speakers to give away pieces of branded swag to one lucky attendee.

10. Prepare post-webinar follow-up materials

Once the webinar is complete, allow your audience to continue engaging with your brand by sending them relevant follow-up materials, such as:

  • A ‘Thank you for attending’ email within 24 hours of the webinar that includes the slide deck of the presentation along with its recording.
  • A blog post published within one week of the webinar that includes a summary of the topics discussed, main takeaways, and answers to the questions asked throughout it.
  • Access to the webinar content through a dedicated page on your website
  • Details on any upcoming webinars, virtual events, and ways they can continue connecting with your brand on social media.
  • The Aimtal team created an entire webinar series for our client, GlideFast Consulting, and created an on-demand library of webinar content so the videos are easily accessible even after the webinar date
  • All of the webinar videos are all hosted on YouTube and are there main drivers of organic search ranking!

And, we’re live!

Planning and hosting a webinar doesn’t need to be a taxing journey. With a little preparation and collaboration, you can kick off a successful webinar, engage with your audience, and grow your business.

Looking for an in-depth guide for launching your webinar?

Download our free guide for everything you need to know!

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