Webinars have become a critical tool for educating and informing audiences in our new virtual world. Making the user experience relevant and convenient is essential to a successful event. Give your webinar a solid foundation by taking care to properly create your virtual event.
Goals and Outcomes The cornerstone of any meeting’s success is understanding why you are meeting. Understanding what you want attendees to learn or get out of the Webinar is no different. Organize a brainstorming session with leadership and presenters and write out all potential goals and outcomes. Then narrow it down! Ensure your webinar is designed to clearly communicate your main goals.
Determine Your Platform There are many technological platforms out there and choosing which one helps you get to your goals most effectively is the next key step. Do you want attendees to interact with the platform? Do you want them to be able to be seen and heard? Or do you merely want to track if someone has watched something and can take a quiz on it afterward? Your goals will help determine which platform can be right for your Webinar. GCFA’s A/V and Meeting Planning staff are familiar with many different platforms and can help talk through the benefits to each based on your goals.
Make a Production Schedule and Agenda An agenda is key. It keeps the Webinar on track to hit your goals. It can also be a tool to entice attendees to attend. Agendas that are distributed early help guide presenters but it also allows attendees time to think of questions. Make certain when you are setting the agenda, you plan the webinar for a time -- and time zone -- that is convenient for the majority of the attendees. A production schedule is best managed by a professional. This is someone who can ensure there is enough time between all segments of the Webinar and can make sure the platform technology can keep up. This keeps attendees from getting information whiplash when switching topics and presenters.
Send out Invites and Track Registration Invites are your first step to getting people at your Webinar. Send the invite to your email list, post about it on your website, social media, and in some cases ask people to share it, even via word of mouth. The more people you invite the more people who will attend. But don’t simply invite people and hope they show up, get them to commit. The easiest way to do this is through a registration website, like Aventri which streamlines tracking attendance and communication. Always capture people’s intent to attend and their contact information. If someone RSVP’s, they are more likely to actually show up! A registration website, like Aventri, can be used pre-event to communicate easily and effectively by sending automatic confirmation emails with links to get on their calendar, reminders prior to the event, and any updates mid-meeting.
Pre-Record and Finalize Presentations A well-recorded video of a presentation or a polished slide deck or document can engage your Webinar audience to stay involved for the duration of the Webinar. Make certain the professionalism of all presentations matches your message and your brand.
Train the Audience and Leadership It is always good to ensure everyone is on the same page with how to use the platform you have chosen. Even if the platform is not new to your audience and leadership, it is still best to plan testing for each group to explain how each feature will be used in the specific context of your Webinar. In some cases, a simple introduction to the software and where questions should be directed could be included in the first few minutes of your Webinar. For completely new Platforms and for those who may not be as familiar with technology, it may be best to plan trainings prior to the Webinar’s date to ensure everyone has access and is comfortable using the platform.
Test your Platform Log on EARLY. Make certain the kinks are all worked out before your attendees log on. You shouldn’t be handling technical issues while attendees are entering the Webinar – you should be welcoming and helping them look forward to is to come.
Engage Audience Keep the Webinar moving! Downtime of virtual Webinars is much more taxing on attendees than downtime of in-person trainings. Ensure you continually ask questions, get feedback, allow for breaks, and present attendees with information that will keep them tuned in to the content. Make certain leadership and presenters have brainstormed different ways to keep people involved through each presenter and each transition.
Send out Materials or Publish the Recording Giving people tangibles to take away from your Webinar keeps the information fresh in their minds. Whether you publish the recording of the Webinar on your website or send out follow up materials via email, just make certain you follow up with resources that help drive your goal. One caution, if you do plan on publishing a recording of the Webinar, be mindful of confidentiality, and be sure to disclose your plans to record to your attendees.
Send Follow Up Survey Feedback is key! Virtual gatherings are here to stay. Understanding what went well and what didn’t will help you plan an even better Webinar in the future. And guess what, the contact information gathered during registration or registration site like Aventri makes it easy to send out post-event surveys and gather streamlined responses!
Your audience will appreciate the care you take in providing a simple and informative webinar. UMC Support’s Travel and Meeting Planning team can help your ministry plan and produce webinar events. Contact our Connectional Relations Team today to begin the process.