Either you’ve been asked to be a presenter for an upcoming webinar yourself or your company has decided to start hosting webinars and you’re in charge of the behind the scenes planning that goes into one. Either way – a successful webinar is exciting. With the ability to breathe new life into static content, they’re a high form of content marketing.

Webinars or webcasts are the second most effective content marketing tactic (64%). We’ve shared tips on creating an engaging webinar before but what about the basics of planning? It takes a successful plan to knock your presentation out of the park and ensure that your webinars don’t go unnoticed, so we’ve compiled a list of seven must-dos for smooth sailing.

Ensure your Next Webinar is a Success

Stick to a schedule: And we don’t just mean during the webinar. Have a guideline from the day you decide to host a webinar to post webinar. GoToMeeting has put together a great organizer and presenter checklist that we revert back to frequently each time we plan a webinar.

Finalize the content a week before the presentation (two weeks if possible): We can’t stress enough how important this step is. Last minute content changes are band to happen leading up to your webinar. However, you don’t want to be scrambling to put together your presentation the night before. When would you find the time to practice?

Practice: You aren’t going to make it to the World Series without practice so why would you do host a webinar without practicing. Trust us when we say this approach will cause you to strike out every time. Maybe if you’re a pro speaker or the top expert on your topic, you may be able to get away with winging a webinar every now and then. However, odds are if you’ve made it to this blog post then you’re probably getting started on your first or second webinar and need these tips. Here are a few ideas to ensure your practice makes perfect:

Plan a few seed questions for the “?” portion: We’re letting you in on a pretty important webinar secret. Have you ever been on a webinar that ended 20 minutes early (because the speaker probably flew through the slides a little faster than anticipated) and you get to the slide with the giant question mark … and then you hear crickets? Avoid that awkward silence by having a few seed questions to use as backup. We suggest coming up with at least 3. However, you’ll quickly realize that after you get through the first “planned” question, real audience questions will start rolling in. Sometimes you just have to break the ice.

Publicize: What’s more disappointing than spending weeks preparing for a webinar to only have 2 guests show up? Unfortunately it can happen but that doesn’t mean you should up. Host more webinars and keep publicizing. Marketing Tech Blog has a great list of tips to help you make sure nobody misses your next webinar.

Expect hiccups: No amount of planning can make up for the unexpected. It’s likely that during the presentation something unexpected will arise but it’s important to just go with the flow. It’s important to keep in mind that if you make a mistake, get a little flustered or need to clear your throat, your attendees probably won’t even notice. However, if something bigger happens (i.e. technical difficulties), it’s still ok. Be ready to expect the unexpected and learn from each mistake, it’ll help you relax and enjoy giving the presentation. You’re there to educate your audience, not be a perfectionist.

Follow up: Webinars are a huge player in the content creation game right now. You acquire basic info from the attendees immediately after registration. And they allow guests to get to know the personality and tone of the company (keep that in mind when presenting) without the commitment of a one-on-one call. But once the presentation is over you don’t want your guests to forget about you. Use your marketing automation tool to go through the contact list and send a follow up email. Include a link to the recorded webinar (remember to record it!) and a brief thank you for attending note. Set them up in a nurture campaign so they continue to get educational content and invitations to future webinars from you. Don’t be overwhelming but also don’t let them forget your name.

Ready for your next Webinar?

Hopefully if you’ve read all of these tips, you’re already on your way to a successful webinar. Webinars build trust by giving a potential buyers a bit of insight into your personality. If you’re struggling to find a way to get more valuable leads and keep them moving through the funnel, webinars may just be your answer. They are an essential component of any marketing strategy and will help successfully grow your business.