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Earlier this week I hosted my first webinar ever! If you're not familiar with the term, basically it means I presented a live workshop by video to an online audience. Eek! Talk about a rush!
Webinars are kind of all the rage right now, and even if you're not one into following the "cool kid trends," I believe webinars are going to be around for the long run.
Think about it.
You've been following someone's blog or brand for a few months. Maybe you've re-tweeted a couple of their posts, participated in their Facebook group, and in general you're pretty much pickin' up what they're throwin' down.
But really do you know that person yet?
They are still just a face from that perfectly styled, totally profesh photo posted on their website. Are you really feeling a strong connection to that static smile?
Then they host a webinar .... you're hearing their voice, you're seeing their little quirks, they stumble over their words, and suddenly you realize there really is a human behind that blog/brand/website, and they are JUST LIKE YOU!
You've made a REAL connection that is going to last long beyond the live event.
I learned so much from hosting my first webinar (The Pinterest List Building Blueprint: How EXPLODE your list (+ gain paying clients) with Pinterest), and although I wasn't pitching anything (other than a free beta tester opportunity), and there were some tech difficulties (aren't there ALWAYS?), I would call it a true success!
Today I want to share with you 29 lessons I learned from hosting my 1st webinar (with all free tools) and how you can do the same!
Also, I created a workflow of the exact steps that I took to put this webinar together from planning, to marketing, to tech set-up. I plan to use this checklist for all webinars that I do in the future. So be sure to grab your free copy below >>>
Pre Webinar Planning and Prep
1. Decide what makes you most comfortable - solo or joint webinar (where you present with another person). For me personally, I felt more comfortable going it alone my first time. I figured it was fewer computer screens involved, fewer things to coordinate, and no one to get mad at me if I totally screwed it up! Haha But I've heard others say that they wanted the support of someone else being there in the live presentation with them. Your first webinar is all about practice and getting comfortable. So do what feels best for you!
2. Start with the free option of embedding a YouTube Live broadcast into a page on your website to host your webinar. After you've gotten a few webinars under your belt, and know that it's going to be a regular part of your business strategy, then go ahead and purchase a webinar software if you want. But first make sure that webinars are your "thing" by going the free route, before making the investment.
If you are ready to make webinars an integral part of your business strategy, then I highly recommend going with Demio as your webinar software of choice! I've hosted over 15 webinars with them, both JV and solo, and couldn't be happier. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about my experiences with Demio.
3. Create your own "Leadpages-esque" sign up page using Canva. You know what I'm talking about. Those lovely webinar sign-up pages made on Leadpages that include a attention grabbing headshot graphic and the 5 enticing things you're going to learn if you sign up. If you've already got Leadpages, then awesome, go for it! If not, create your graphic on the free online program, Canva, and design your own sign up page on your website/blog.
4. Create slides, but also don't be afraid to show your face. I had 70 slides that I went through during my webinar, while I screenshared my computer screen with the audience so they were only looking at the slide while I talked. But I also had a time at the beginning where I showed my face while welcoming everyone in. Then at the end I showed my face again while I did a live question and answer session.
Remember, the key to webinars is making a connection with your audience, so I'd encourage you to have the video on you for some of the time. But you'll likely be more comfortable not having the camera on you the entire presentation. Plus slides are great to help guide your audience, regardless of your experience level!
5. Go for more slides and fewer words. I had 70 slides for my webinar. Sure, I could have easily condensed that down to probably 30 if I wanted to. But there were many where I only had a few words, or a sentence listed. It's much easier for your audience to quickly scan and read a slide with fewer words while you talk. Plus you can use the strategy of fewer words to draw attention to certain parts of your presentation, and add suspense for what's coming up next.
6. Create a worksheet. Worksheets do two things for you. When you send them out ahead of time, they create excitement for your webinar from the people who have signed up. Everyone loves a beautiful worksheet to print out, so when they see that you have one for your webinar, it kind of lets them know that this is going to be "the real deal." Secondly, worksheets are extremely helpful during the actual webinar to keep your viewers on track with the information!
7. Plan for the beginning and the end. One thing that I almost overlooked, was thinking about how I was going to start the webinar and how I was going to end it. Maybe after you get a few webinars under your belt, that kind of thing will come naturally. But for the first time, it's nice to have a little welcome script that you've practiced to welcome people into the webinar room and give a preview to what you're doing.
Think about whether you're going to start right on time, or are you going to kind of "chat" for a few minutes to give people time to enter? When you're done after your Q+A at the end (if you're doing one), how are you going to wrap it up and say bye?
8. Do an entire tech run through. A couple days prior to my webinar I went through the entire process like I was going to present the webinar live that day. I embedded the YouTube Live video into my Squarespace page, started the live stream, and started presenting. It gave me a chance to get comfortable with the process, as well as checking my microphone level (I use the Blue Yeti which works great!) and my lighting. Tech can be one of the scariest parts for most people, so practicing this process in advance can definitely help ease your nerves.
9. Practice, but don't over do it. I presented my webinar out loud, all the way through from start to finish, one full time prior to my webinar. It was mostly to see about how long I anticipated my presentation to take, as well as to see if there was anything I needed to add or take away from the presentation.
I would definitely suggest running through your webinar (actually talking out loud) one time all the way through. But don't feel like you need to do that multiple times. This shouldn't be something that you completely memorize. You've got your slides to guide you, but you don't want to be reading a script the entire time. People can hear it in your voice if you're reading, and it doesn't feel as real or genuine.
Pre Webinar Marketing
10. Change all your social media profile links to the webinar sign-up page. I'd do this at a minimum a week prior to your live event. I changed my Twitter and Instagram profiles to include "FREE live Pinterest webinar! Sign up >> (bit.ly link)." That way if you have new people checking you out on social media, you'll likely gain a new participant at your live event, as well as for your email list.
11. Create webinar images specifically sized for Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Each social media platform has a "perfect" image size, so be sure you're creating images sized for each of them.
On Twitter and Facebook, I "pinned" one of my webinar images to the top of my profile, so it was the first tweet or post someone saw when going to my page. On Instagram I posted two images highlighting my webinar the two days prior to the event. And on Pinterest I pinned the webinar image to a variety of group boards that I'm a part of.
12. Do a Twitter search and invite. On Twitter I created a Twitter list of everyone who I'd connected with in some way (maybe they'd liked a few of my tweets, shared my blog posts, or retweeted me, etc). If those people weren't already signed up,
I sent each of them a tweet individually inviting them to check out my webinar. I also did a Twitter search for anyone that I already followed that was talking about Pinterest. I then responded to their Pinterest related tweet, and invited them to check out my webinar.
13. Include opportunities for people that sign-up to share. It's much more powerful marketing when you've got webinar participants sharing out about your webinar as well. Make it easy for them to do so! Be sure you have a thank you page that people who sign-up are redirected to after submitting their email info.
Once again this can be a "LeadPages-esque" thank you page, without the price tag (create it yourself!). Also, be sure you're providing a confirmation email which includes another opportunity to share about the webinar with their followers. In my confirmation email, I included a pre-written Click-to-Tweet option, as well as my webinar Pinterest image, which they could pin to their Pinterest boards.
14. Schedule out your tweets and plan out other posting in advance (automate!). The days leading up to the webinar can get a bit crazy! As much as possible you want to automate the process. I scheduled 3-5 tweets about the webinar each day, for about 5 days leading up to it, into my Buffer account. I also planned out my Instagram images and pre-wrote the captions I was going to use, with Latergramme. I have a Pinterest scheduling program, Tailwind, so I was also able to pre-schedule my Pinterest webinar image to be posted onto different group boards each day.
Whew ... we're almost halfway through! Seem like a lot? IT IS ... but totally do-able when you have a PLAN. Be sure to grab my Webinar Workflow FREE download to get the complete checklist on how I designed, marketed, and hosted my webinar.
Day of the Webinar!
15. Allow yourself all day to prep and trouble shoot. I'd suggest not planning to get anything else done the day of your webinar. Have everything completed the day in advance, and give yourself plenty of time to trouble shoot any tech problems that come up. As well as to get into the right webinar mindset! No one wants to feel stressed out and rushed prior to their first live event.
16. Include a Twitter share link on the live webinar page. This is especially important if you're pitching something for sale in your webinar. Include a share button on the live webinar page, with a pre-written click-to-tweet ready to go. Then include a slide where you're asking the webinar participants to share about this live event with their followers.
You may get some more people coming in that did not sign up, They will still have the opportunity to come to your event and make a connection with you, which will make it that much more likely for them to buy in the future.
17. Have a chat box. I used Chatango for my chat box during my webinar. It gives viewers a chance to talk to each other during the event, and gives everyone more of a feel of being in an actual audience.
I also invited viewers to write their questions into the chat at any point during the webinar. I made it clear that I would not be answering questions right away, but I would be scrolling back through the chat at the end, and answering the questions that I saw during the Q+A session. This is perfect for the Q+A because it then gives other viewers time to write in their questions, while you answer the ones that are already in the chat box.
18. Double check that everyone can hear and see you prior to getting started. I started broadcasting live a few minutes prior to the start of my webinar time when just a few people were already in the webinar "room". I was able to ask them to type into the chat if they could hear me. Once I got a "yes" I told them that I was finishing up a few things behind the scenes, and I'd be back in a few minutes to get started. I then put the microphone on "mute" for a few minutes before getting started at the correct time.
19. Count on the lag. YouTube Live can have up to a 30 second lag between when you are talking, and when the people actually see/hear you. So if you ask participants a question and want an answer back in the chat box, be sure to remember that you are not going to get an instant answer. Factor that lag time in when thinking about how you want to structure any audience participation that you include in your webinar.
20. Have a webinar hashtag and a little bonus for tweeting out notes that people take during your webinar. It's all about building excitement about your business/brand, and sharing with others all of the value that you are providing. When you use pictures of notes taken during your webinar in your future emails and marketing, it's great social proof that you know your stuff and are worthwhile to follow!
21. Hold a Q+A. Question and answer sessions are all about interaction with your audience and showing off your knowledge. When you can answer questions on the spot, without advance prep, it shows that you are very knowledgeable about your topic and people gain trust in your expertise.
It's also another way to develop that connection - especially with the people that have a question that you answer. It's a great feeling to have a webinar presenter take the time to read out your question and answer it live on air. It's likely that you'll have just gained an engaged follower and fan of your work for the future.
22. Make little tweaks. Do the little things that can improve the viewer experience. Present your webinar in a room where you have a "clean" background. A plain wall is absolutely fine, and normally preferable to a cluttered background. Think about being somewhere there is natural light coming in if possible, and/or consider bringing an extra lamp into the room to light up your face more. I had a microphone that I was able to use (I didn't buy it specifically for webinars. It was just something I had already) that improved the sound quality, but it is not an absolute must for your first time.
23. Look at the camera! It's so tempting to look at your computer screen where you see your face talking! I caught myself doing that several times during my webinar, and had to remind myself to look up at the little camera at the top of my computer. I just used the camera built into my computer for this one. So it's not the highest quality video, but it works!
Once you're ready to make a small investment in a higher quality camera, I'd go with the Logitech HD Pro Webcam 920, which is what a use knows and gives you a great quality viewing experience!
24. Don't pitch or do a practice pitch. This is the opposite of what most people tell you. Most webinars include some kind of pitch where you're selling your products/services to the viewers. However I encourage you to not put that pressure on yourself for the first webinar.
Use your first webinar as a list building opportunity and as a "run through" to get comfortable with a live presentation platform. If you'd like to practice pitching, a good idea is to "pitch" a free email course or some other kind of freebie that you offer. On mine I "pitched" a free beta testing opportunity that I'm going to use as featured case studies for my upcoming course (hint, hint!) :)
25. Have a replay. The great thing about the internet is that you will very likely have an international audience! But that means that time zones will likely prevent some people from attending live. I'd highly suggest having a replay available for at least 48 hours for those that could not attend live.
Unfortunately for me, my webinar did not record correctly, so instead I sent out my slides to everyone who signed up, as an alternative. I hadn't planned to share out my slides, but I wanted to provide something to my participants since I had said there would be a replay, and I wasn't able to deliver. :(
UPDATE: The replay is back! Google worked their magic and was able to restore the video, so I was able to send out a replay copy to everyone who signed up after all.
26. Don't forget to follow up! If you did decide to pitch, then this is extremely important to get those additional sales before the replay ends. Even if you didn't pitch, you'll want to send a follow up email talking about how much fun the webinar was and providing a link to the replay. It's also a nice idea to send a final email out the day that the replay is coming down to give people a last reminder to view it if they want to before it comes down.
27. Change the sign up page. It's likely that you'll still get some people clicking through to your webinar sign up page, and trying to sign up even after your webinar is over. If you like, you can keep that page live while the replay is still live, so that anyone who signs up can still get the replay too.
After the replay comes down, you'll want to make the sign-up page inactive, or you can add something that says "Sorry you missed this webinar. Be sure to sign up to find out about my next live event!" and then include a sign up box to get them on your list. Keep that list building mindset!
28. Continue to build a relationship with those that attended live! You've started a relationship with anyone who participated in the webinar chat, asked a question in the Q+A, emailed you about the event, or shared about your event on any social media platform. I tried to acknowledge everything that anyone did to be a part of my webinar. I know that those are now the people that I want to continue to support in their own businesses, and continue to stay active with what they are doing online as well. Consider making a Twitter list of all your supporters, or go find them on Instagram so that you can stay a part of their business lives.
29. Be open to getting noticed. I found that as I started to share about my webinar, and especially after presenting the live event, people in the online space that I would consider "bigger names" (they are well known, have a larger following, etc) have started to take notice. I've received emails, messages, tweets, etc. from others in the industry that are several steps ahead of me, that I'm excited to continue to build a relationship with.
Hosting a webinar positions you as serious about what you're doing, and that extra effort will help to build your status as an "expert" at what you do.
Ok guys, that's the list! If you've ever considered doing a live webinar before, I highly encourage you to take the leap! Don't forget to download my complete webinar workflow that I used to take my webinar from an idea, all the way through to the live event. >>>
Let me know if you have any questions about webinars in the comments, and I'll be happy to answer! Happy webinaring!