Having a road map for success going into your webinar is crucial to success. No one loves to wing it more than me, but web events are not the place for it!
Consider your attendees. They are at a webinar, not a live conference. At a live conference, they have set aside the entire day or days to hear information. On a web event, people are setting aside a small piece of their busy day to hear you speak.
Be mindful of the difference. They are sitting at their computer. If your event is being held in the evening, they may have kids, pets, or a spouse providing distractions. The TV is usually on in the background. And there are a million other things they could be doing. They are giving you a portion of their free time.
During the day, they are taking a piece of their work day. Your potential customer is banking on the information you can provide, being more valuable than the work they could get done in the same amount of time. They may even be risking getting in trouble with the boss!
When attendees register, you need to let them know how long the event will be. And then you need to stick to it! They are looking for the one nugget of information in your 60 minute webinar that will change their life. If you withhold that nugget until 75 minutes after the start time, you have often lost them.
Divide your webinar into 5 parts. Plan each part out so that you know what you will be doing. If you feel like you have too much planned for any given part, prioritize it. Know what you can cut and what you cannot. Then set a timer during your webinar.
Don’t be a slave to your schedule, but be mindful of it. If you have a point that puts you a couple minutes over somewhere, it is no big deal. If you have audience questions that take on a slightly different path, that is good! It means you are adapting to the information your audience needs. There is a difference between adapting and abandoning, so come back to the plan as soon as possible.
A brief point on length. Know how long you need, but remember this: People drop off after an hour. There is nothing wrong with your presentation, that’s just what people do. They will also tend to disappear during transitions. In order to keep your audience engaged for the entire presentation, your best bet is to get your presentation and pitch across in under 1 hour in a seamless presentation.
Part 1: The Pre-Event
Before things even get started, you need to be prepared. Plan to be present 15 minutes before the webinar is scheduled to begin. This is a really simple part to plan.
You need to have a slide up on the screen that tells attendees they are in the right place, and tells them that you have not started yet. If they do not hear anyone speaking, they will be concerned that their sound is not working. Let them know everything is O.K. with a short message that the web event will be starting at <start time>.
From there, you need to reassure them with your voice every couple of minutes. I simply open the mic, thank them for coming, let them know how to ask questions (many people come with a specific question in mind), and tell them the event will be starting in <minutes til start>. That’s it.
The pre-event seems simple, but it is important! Don’t let potential customers drop off before you even get started.
Part 2: The Opening
You can lose people in the opening of the event just as easily as you can lose them in the pre-event. These first two phases are all about letting attendees know that they are in the right place!
In the pre-event, you assure them they have come to the webinar they signed up for. In the opening, you are letting them know that they have come to the right person.
The opening is not your time to build relationships. Attendees are here for a purpose. Let them know that you can serve that purpose. Establish your expertise in the presentation field with as little ‘fluff’ as necessary.
Pick out 3-4 points that establish you as an expert. Do not get into a long list of accomplishments that only have peripheral relation to your topic. Put them on a slide. Keep the opening to 5 minutes.
We have all seen the presentation that opens with a 20 minute discussion on why you’re here, and why the presenter is the expert. They’re boring. Attendees are there for information. They can get to know you afterwards (after the sale is made!).
Part 3: The Presentation
The presentation is what you will spend the most time on in preparing for your web event. Obviously, this is what everyone came for. If you spend more time on talking about yourself and asking for a sale, then you do on presenting valuable information, your webinar will be a flop!
How you prepare your information is up to you. But make sure that you are able to flow seamlessly from one slide to the next. Does your presentation follow a logical path? No rabbit holes! Shoot for a 40 minute presentation if you are aiming for the 1 hour time limit.
Do not allow for major breaks. I have seen presenters who used two different power points in the presentation. They had to stop, close one set of slides, find the next set… ugh!
Meanwhile, everyone is flipping their browser over to check email or worse, get into the Facebook time suck. You might lose them for good!
Do not have any breaks in your presentation. Have everything ready to go and practice switching between materials so that no one has to wait on you. Plus, you will look much more professional when the presentation is truly seamless.
Here it comes! The moment you’ve been building up to. Hopefully you can see that most of your attendees are still with you.
Your presentation needs to lead into your pitch. I like for the beginning of the pitch to be a summary of what we have discussed in the presentation. That will lead into how ‘x’ product can help you go even further in our topic.
If your presentation has a moment that slaps potential customers in the face with, “And here’s the PITCH!” then you’re going to lose some people. Sure, you will have some attendees already sold because of your marvelous presentation. They know you’re the expert for them.
But more attendees are still on the fence about you. They think you know what you’re talking about, and they think you have good intentions… but OH! Now’s the catch! Remember that many people are very cynical and hate being ‘sold’ to.
How you make the pitch is a subject for another time, but for our planning purposes – 15 minutes will have your pitch closing up right at the 1 hour time limit.
Consider one thing in your timing. If they truly planned to spend 1 hour (maybe it’s a lunch break), then you may want to wrap up the pitch with 5 minutes to spare. That’s the time they’ll need to go put in their credit card information!
Part 5: Questions & Answers
Always hold your Q&A session until the end of the web event. Your webinar attendees may be asking questions throughout the presentation. If you can work some of their answers in to your presentation without stopping, you can cut down on the questions at the end.
How you want to do this is up to you. I try to cut it off at about 15 minutes. But the time can go longer if the questions are good and you have high interaction. Many people will not want to stick around though, so never put your Q&A before the pitch. A good presentation has answered most of your potential customer’s questions. The Q&A session is just establishing your expertise to those who still have some doubts.
Remember that Q&A is a relationship building time, as well. Answer every question as if it is the key to success. Never belittle your potential customers. Trust me, I have answered a lot of questions that made me do a face-palm. And some of those who asked are now long-time customers.
Answering every question until the room is empty is OK. It makes you seem like a great person who will take time out for anyone. But it also tends to drag and you end up speaking to just a couple of people.
Instead, cut off your Q&A session before it starts to drag. Keep it to 10-15 minutes if possible. Then let all of your attendees know how to reach you if they have further questions. This is a good time to get your potential customers seeing you in other places like Facebook, Twitter, and even starting an email dialogue with you.
Take the time to plan out your webinar and you will have a great event with great results! Always do your best to put on a valuable, professional presentation for your potential customers.