Founder & CEO of Weavy – the complete white-label framework for in-app messaging and collaboration.
The world has changed, and we as business leaders have had to follow suit and adapt.
The most tangible change has been the shift to remote work. The appetite for a big in-person event is not there anymore, and I’m not sure it be ever again.
This is why webinars — which provide the benefits of less travel, less stress on a city for a specific big event (Dreamforce, MWC, etc.) and lower costs — may become more essential going forward.
At our company, we shifted rapidly to remote work for our whole team both in the U.S. and Europe, but we also shifted our focus regarding marketing and sales. We both sponsor and participate in relevant online events and are now ramping up our own production with webinars, hackathons and online sales meetings.
So, we created the 12 commandments for hosting a great webinar and wanted to share them:
1. Keep it short.
Let’s be honest: Webinars usually suck. They are all the same and not attractive. So let’s never do a webinar like that.
Never do a webinar that’s an hour long. In fact, keep it to a 10-minute maximum. If you can’t deliver your message in 10 minutes, your pitch is wrong.
Record your full practice pitch, and then edit it down to a “spot-on” infotainment segment about your product that will snag full-length views on YouTube.
2. Captivate your audience first.
We don’t log into a webinar because we are interested in who the presenter is (unless you’re a guru of sorts).
Don’t start with a personal presentation — it’s just not interesting. Start with a captivating question that is left unanswered until the very end of the webinar.
This question is your red line, cliffhanger or hasta la vista. That is the sole reason your audience should listen to your webinar (e.g., “Do you know how much time your team spends in your collaboration tool?”).
3. Have a short, clear plan.
The beautiful thing about a webinar is that it has an unlimited number of audience members.
The ugly thing is that you have no control over if the audience is attentive. So make sure you get control. Give a concise but direct agenda (e.g., “Today, we will talk about how to do X and what happens if we do Y, and we’re going to do in 10 minutes”).
4. Introduce yourself.
Give a warm welcome and a short introduction. Refer your audience to your LinkedIn profile. Add something fun.
5. Direct the audience’s attention.
The presentation is essential. Remember, no one can see you as if you were giving an on-stage performance. Add pointers, underlines or anything in your introduction that emphasizes the key points you want to make. Use functions like fading screen and studio view in and out for the same effect.
6. Remember that text is unnecessary.
If I want to read text, I buy a book. If I want to get information about a product, I usually watch videos or reviews.
Get it? Text is evil! Show a lot of text, and people will try to read it all and listen less. Remember, your audience can read five times faster than you can talk.
Use as little writing as possible, and focus on the spoken word. Use text to emphasize and strengthen your message.
7. Design the look.
The design of the webinar is more important than you think. It’s essential that the design is representative of your message. Always make an interactive design that can be used for offline viewing. Test the design in good time before any webinar to make sure all graphics run smoothly.
8. Create a script.
Since no one is looking at you all the time, there’s no need to memorize all the webinar contents. Create (and use) a script that is a timeline over the webinar, but don’t overdo it — leave room for spontaneity.
9. Don’t get stuck.
Slides or video chapters, no matter which one you choose, help prevent you from getting stuck.
Pace the segments of your webinar or video demo in sprints of a maximum of 15-20 seconds. The important thing is having a smooth, well-paced tempo. If the audience misses anything, they can always rewind.
10. Use graphics and animations.
Use tools to enhance the webinar. These will raise interest (e.g., statistics presented during the flow and lap over effects), but remember to keep it simple.
11. Deliver the kill.
The most critical section of the webinar is the wrap-up and the kill shot. Conclude with the key knowledge shared with the audience and their next step after the webinar.
The call to action is supreme here. Make sure it happens and is on point!
12. Take questions and give handouts.
Questions should come last and in a standard free-form Q&A flow (if it’s a live webinar). Give the audience a handout (e.g., a link to the recording or demo).
Webinars will become increasingly important for all businesses. They will transition from people just signing up to watch video recordings later to actually participating, asking questions and interacting because the live, in-person, on-location event is no longer a reliable option. Follow these suggestions as you get your webinar schedule up and running.