As the reach of the recession lingers, companies continue to scale back their conference and travel budgets.

Chris Martin, Atlas Marketing
Chris Martin, Atlas Marketing

Although training remains a high priority for businesses, the ability to physically attend conferences, workshops and meetings diminishes. Many companies have turned to webinars as an alternative and with great success. In fact, 44% of global webinars are training based, second to internal communications based topics.

Successful webinars provide value by being engaging, educational and insightful. For the presenters, webinars furnish the opportunity to educate the audience, reinforce expertise, expand reach and introduce new audiences. With so much to gain on both sides of the screen, creating an impactful webinar is extremely important and requires planning and preparation.

The audience

You can’t have a good party without inviting a lot of people. In this case, the more you invite the higher the likelihood for conversion or the sharing of best practices. To ensure you have the right audience attending your webinar, start with showcasing the value of the event and the potential impact it should have on participants. Then, look for multiple ways to share the invitation, such as social media, advertising, emails, websites, etc.

Prepare

Just as you would when giving a meeting presentation, preparation is the key to success. This includes tailoring the topic to your target audience, building the presentation to keep your audience engaged (and you on point) and practicing before the big day. Also, don’t forget to test your equipment and connections. Just as the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared.

Visuals

It’s a fact, we live in a visual society. Visuals help keep your audience engaged and provide cues for you to stay on point. Webinar success includes the right mix of visuals to both support and reinforce your point. A general rule of thumb is to use one visual per slide and make sure to attribute your visual source, if not created specifically for the webinar.

Delivering your message

Almost half of all webinars fail because the presenter did not engage with his/her audience based on post-webinar surveys. Keeping your tone conversational and the use of jargon to a minimum will be a big step to positive engagement. Most important, know the time parameters. If the timeframe is an hour, be sure to succinctly cover your topic within 60 minutes. It is your responsibility, as the presenter, to provide value without over explaining.

Questions

Questions are an opportunity to ensure your audience understands what you have presented. What people ask will also help you realize the message points that resonated with your audience. One tip we always suggest is to have two-to-three questions ready to address. These “planted” questions serve two purposes, they can help start the Q&A portion of a webinar and they can reinforce critical message points.

What’s next

It is always good to leave your audience with the next thought. Invite attendees to view the webinar on demand. According to the UBM Tech 2014 Content Connects Survey, 57% of attendees viewed the webinar live and on demand. Also, look to measure the effectiveness of the webinar. Did you conduct your webinar with the intent to increase your prospect base? Follow up with attendees to see how you may be able to help them with their business needs. Was it to educate your audience? Question the audience to see what other topics they might be interested in. Connecting with your attendees after the webinar will help to gage its effectiveness and potentially provide future topics to cover.

Webinars provide an engagement with an audience without the constraints of travel or outside meetings. More important, an on-demand webinar provides a content source for future marketing communications needs as well as the opportunity to drive site traffic. Planning your next webinar will lead to success, and not just on-screen.

By Chris Martin

As founder and president of Atlas Marketing, CHRIS MARTIN oversees the variety of campaigns that the company delivers. Throughout his twenty-year career, he has told stories for American icons and national heroes; and directed campaigns for a variety of national and international corporations. Visit AtlasStories.com for more information about the firm, and how we listen, engage and connect to deliver messages.