How to create an engaging webinar that stands out from the crowd

Webinars can be a powerful vehicle for engaging with and educating prospects and customers — if they’re done correctly. At first glance, a webinar might seem simple enough — just pick a topic and get ready to talk about it for 45 minutes or so, right? Actually, there’s a lot more to it than that, as there’s significant planning you need to do before, after and even during the actual webinar that contributes to its success. We recommend starting with the following three steps.

Picking a Topic

The first thing you need to do when hosting a webinar is to pick your topic. After all, how can you plan for an event and garner excitement for it when you don’t even know what it’s about?

In picking a topic, you should consider what’s relevant to your audience, such as new industry trends or questions your customers and/or prospects ask regularly. You also want to consider how you can make these topics informative and engaging, not just a sales pitch.

But there’s more to it than that. Those steps could lead you down the path of a webinar or they could also provide you with topics for a blog post, eBook, white paper, etc. So what makes something perfect for a webinar?

While this list is by no means exhaustive, a great webinar topic could be something that requires visualization to fully understand or is simply very visual by nature, a more detailed or complicated topic that requires a more in-depth discussion to do it justice or something with interlocking parts that requires multiple voices to paint the full picture. Beyond that, a great webinar topic should be something that you can tackle in less than 60 minutes (leaving time for a Q&A) and, as with any type of content, something about which you are excited and can present in an engaging manner.

Planning for Webinar Success

Once you’ve got your topic, it’s time to start planning everything from the actual presentation to the promotion that will drive registration. While a webinar certainly eliminates a lot of the overhead associated with live events, the planning for it should be no less detailed.

To start, you should develop a webinar plan complete with deliverables and timelines so that you can easily keep track of what you need to do and when you need to it. Your webinar plan should account for:

Gaining the Most Value

As mentioned above, there’s a lot that you can do to add value to your webinars for both your attendees and your business. Our top six value-add webinar activities include:

  1. Inform your audience ahead of time: As you drive registration to your webinar, do more than just promote the event. Be sure to include relevant content that will help pique the interest of recipients and provide any base layer of knowledge that will make the actual webinar more meaningful should they attend.
  2. Make it a can’t-miss event: Whether it’s tying a contest to your webinar or offering access to one of your relevant resources (e.g. a white paper), providing an incentive for people to tune in can not only boost registration and attendance, but it can also help create some buzz.
  3. Expand your audience and boost credibility with partners: Similar to other content endeavors, bringing in partners, whether they be industry thought leaders, complementary businesses or even customers, can help expand the reach of your webinar since those partners are likely promote the event to their audiences too. Additionally, having a third party on board (particularly when it’s a thought leader or customer) can help increase trust with your audience.
  4. Extend the conversation on social: Creating a webinar hashtag (and including that hashtag on your slides) and promoting any speakers’ social profiles during the webinar will encourage attendees to share their thoughts or key takeaways during the event. These activities will help expand the reach of your message and provide you with insight on who is actively engaged in the content and the specific topics in which they’re most interested. Having your business socialize key nuggets of information or slides during the webinar (and engaging with attendees who do) can also help garner interest and increase overall engagement.
  5. Think beyond one-and-done: Recording your webinar extends its life, but the recording on its own will do you no good. You have to promote that recording to reap its true value. To start, you should include the recording in follow up emails so that any no-shows can watch it and so that attendees can pass it along to others who they think might be interested. Beyond that, you need to think past your initial audience. Publishing a recap blog post that highlights some of the top discussions (and including the recording as a CTA) and promoting the recording on social media and in future nurture campaigns can help give your webinar new life.
  6. Continue engaging with attendees: Don’t let attendees fall off your radar after your initial follow up email. As you continue engaging, consider any ways you can personalize this outreach based on information collected during the webinar. For example, if someone tweeted about the webinar, you might want to reach out to them on Twitter. You can also use the content of social posts from attendees or any questions asked during the webinar to identify which topics interest those people and tailor your outreach accordingly.

In general, the most critical key to achieving webinar success is to think about it holistically. Remember: What you do before and after the webinar, as well as what you do during the webinar to increase engagement, is what sets apart the good from the great.