Producing a webinar is a true test of one’s project management skills. You own so many moving parts, from technical components, to the happiness and preparedness of your speakers, to the visual appeal and effectiveness of the slide deck.
Pre-recording your webinar takes pressure off when it comes to technical snafus, but more than half the battle occurs in the weeks before your webinar ever goes live.
I won’t claim I’m an old horse at keeping all the proverbial webinar balls in the air, but I have picked up a few nuggets of wisdom in the course of planning and executing a handful of webinars here at Simply Measured.
In the words of Oprah, here’s what I know for sure.
1. Take the Load off Your Speakers.
As webinar producer, it’s your job to make the webinar planning and execution process as smooth as possible for your speakers — especially if you want them to return in the future and maybe even recommend the experience to their friends and colleagues.
When I was first put in charge of webinars, I asked speakers to individually complete their slide decks and send them to me for compilation and editing. The feedback I received was that this made the preparation process incredibly time-consuming, so I made a change.
I ask for thirty minutes with each guest a few weeks prior to the webinar.
I interview each guest, transcribe the interview, use the speakers’ expertise to put together a slide deck, and send it to the speakers for edits/additions/approval.
This makes the process as easy as possible for my busy, high-profile webinar speakers, while also giving them a healthy sense of ownership of the materials they’ll be presenting.
2. Double-Check. Then Double-Check Again.
I am not the world’s most type A person (anyone who has seen my desktop, or computer desktop for that matter, can attest to that), but when it comes to webinars, you can never check all your tech components too many times.
Run a complete dry run the day before your webinar.
Make the circumstances of that dry run as similar to the actual webinar as possible.
- If you are running a poll, really launch a poll to make sure your software doesn’t crash
- Have your speakers present the deck in true dress rehearsal fashion, just as if the webinar were happening right now
- Make sure you have no problem clicking through your slides
- Conduct the dry run in an exactly the same conditions as will exist on the day of the webinar: same conference room, same equipment, same second screen if you’re using one. If you will have two speakers in the same room on the day of the webinar, have them in the same room on the day of the dry run. If you’ll have one of the speakers calling in and one in the conference room, replicate this set-up.
- Familiarize yourself with the software you’re using on your own time, so that you appear capable and in charge when your participants show up
By making sure everything, especially tech factors, are on point the day before your webinar, you ease your own mind and quell your participants’ nerves.
You also enable yourself to think about quality and focus on your participants’ comfort, not whether your slides are advancing correctly, on the day of the webinar.
3. Theory Plus Example. Repeat.
I’ve spent a great deal of time poring over attendee feedback. The best format I’ve found taps one speaker as the “straight man,” who discusses the nuts and bolts of theory and strategy, while the other speaker acts as the “example guy/gal,” adding some flavor to what would otherwise be a rather dry presentation.
I recommend alternating slides/sections between these two speakers, because it provides attendees with concrete, real-world examples of the topics being presented and evangelized as they go along and tends to keep attendee attention better.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Learn from Your Speakers.
A classic example of this one occurred during our last webinar with Simply Measured CEO Adam Schoenfeld and VP of Edelman Digital Steve Sack.
I interviewed both speakers, put together the deck, sent it to the speakers for approval…and then my CEO sent me back a much more beautiful, much sleeker, much better formatted version of the deck I had sent him.
It doesn’t have to be.
Adam is, among other things, a PowerPoint pro. He knows how to put together the best-looking, most informative deck you’ve ever seen. I took this opportunity to study the beautiful deck he put together, and make mine better moving forward (i.e. use his deck as the gold standard for webinar decks).
The point here is that you should understand and welcome feedback from your speakers, which leads me to my final tip…
5. It’s a Process.
Expect to learn something, whether small or big, from each webinar you plan. Accept all of it as a learning experience and a chance to do better next time.
By keeping your cool with this attitude, you will inspire your speakers to keep calm during the webinar and you’ll be better equipped to handle any mishaps that do arise.
Do you have tried-and-true webinar tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!