I like to say that, "Everyone who hasn't been a part of a webinar is a webinar virgin." Unfortunately, I found out the rather painful way that I was not the exception to this rule. At the time, I was working for a multi-billion dollar semiconductor company in Silicon Valley and played a relatively insignificant role in our Strategic Accounts Department. I was looking for advancement within my group and had recently volunteered to become the Global Camtasia (video production) Trainer. My manager had asked me to set up a webinar in addition to the conference calls that I had already been conducting.
Actually, I was excited about it! But then again, first-timers usually are excited. No matter how prepared you are and how many times you've played out what is supposed to happen during this first webinar, something unexpected always comes up!
I was slated to host my first set of webinars with an international audience, comprised of members from Ireland, Asia, and the U.S. Although finding a timezone that accommodated everyone’s needs proved challenging enough, other factors such as English comprehension and prior Camtasia knowledge also reared up.
I knew my subject matter well. I knew what questions would most likely be asked and was prepared to answer them. I had gleefully compiled all of my powerpoints, whittled down all the essential points and written down the conference code to log into the live webinar session as host.
But what I was not prepared for was the inner workings of web conferencing with video! Here are five tips that are a sure-fire way to get it right the first time and ignite your passion to do it again!
1.) You must dedicate an area to yourself that is free of outside noise and distractions.
- I can’t tell you enough how few people actually get this concept. I’ve overheard directors chatter to each other thinking that their lines were on mute and engineers talking with their mouths full as they talked about specific data points from their slideshows. Even a co-worker’s conversation in a nearby cube has the innate ability to get sucked into the host’s webinar speaker.
- Do yourself a favor and stand out as a true professional in your field. Just because you cannot see your audience does not mean that they are oblivious to the background noise. you should also pick a room that you are comfortable in and also has all the tools you need - Internet, phone, extra plug-ins for your computer and any other technical items that you may need during the webinar.
2.) Arrive to your webinar at least 30 minutes early and TEST everything! It may seem like 30 minutes is a lot of time, but it flies!
- Go ahead and test your Internet connection, phone line, microphone sound level and video camera feed. Do this first! There’s no point in a live webinar if your Internet connection doesn’t work or if phone decides it want to drop your call. You’ll have enough time to find a back-up room and try again before anyone else notices that there was ever a problem.
- You’ll want to ensure that the dial in codes work - both yours as the host and the ones that were sent to your clients. Log in as host of the session, but DO NOT share your desktop yet, as the screen will show everything you're looking at.
- An excellent professional statement is to send a reminder email to your viewers 1-2 hours before the meeting with the webinar conference code and online link to log in. This not only reconfirms with the viewer that the meeting is still on, but also helps them locate the webinar details in seconds as opposed to having to dig through their inboxes.
- You should also have an online link to the conference webinar as it allows the ability for the viewer to get into the webinar via one more route.
3.) Close out all irrelevant sessions and re-test and open up the materials that you will be using with your viewers.
- Make sure you completely exit out of Skype, MS Outlook and any other programs that have popup notifications. These are not only distracting to you but may cause your viewers to wander off mentally. Just imagine your audience seeing an email from an employee who has just resigned. Yes, we do see these messages come across in webinar meetings all the time. The best strategy is to just avoid it!
- Now that everything is closed on your computer, you’ll want to reopen each one in the order in which they will appear during your session. I’ve found that if I'm going to show something online, it's much easier to have the Internet tabs already up and in the order that I want to show them. If I have a PowerPoint presentation, I'll have it loaded and in 'full-screen' format so all I have to do is click on the powerpoint.
- Take a deep breath. You’ve now done your part to show the world that you are ready. Now is the time to click the 'share desktop' feature.
4.) Make adjustments for people to get accustomed to the webinar on their systems.
- By now, your viewers have started to log in. You’ll want to ensure that they can see your screen and hear you properly. If you’re planning on letting them ask questions during the session, it’s best to put their mics on mute and direct them to the icon that ‘raises’ their hand in the session so that you know they have a question to answer whenever you are at a good stopping point.
5.) Record your webinar for those who may have missed the webinar.
- This is especially important if your viewers have paid to join this webinar and missed it. You can always send them the recorded file and let them know that you had hoped for their attendance. This shows that you thought of them despite their missing out on the live session and may bring in more interest to your company and offerings.
- After your're done, view the recorded webinar. Hear how you sounded from your viewers perspective, see what they saw. Did the answer(s) you provided make sense? Did it take too long to showcase a specific product? Did you lose interest? All of these questions are critical to developing your expertise on webinar skills.
With the above plays in hand you're on your way to many more successful webinars! Overcoming potential glitches makes all the difference between a webinar that couldn't go live and a webinar that came alive!
About the Author
Miriam Arora is a contributing editor for SEO Summit and a freelance journalist on several other platforms. Her research methodologies gained her top marks during her MBA program. She is in the process of starting up a revolutionary new business geared towards helping Stay at Home Moms with time management. While researching for this article she found http://www.webconferenceclassroom.com very helpful and recommends everyone do a bit of research online to find which web conferencing serivice is right for you.