The good, the bad and the ugly: eight ways to master a webinar
Webinars are highly-scalable, agile and cost-effective ways to engage with your key audiences and to nurture business leads – if done well. However, if done badly, webinars can be super-boring or set the wrong tone. Sarah Hills, Director at insurance and reinsurance PR specialists Rein4ce, explains how to make your webinar stand out from the crowd.
Since the world went into lockdown, many organisations and the majority of the trade publications in the insurance, reinsurance and Insurance Linked Securities (ILS) markets have been quick to pivot to the new digital world. An explosion in virtual sessions quickly took the place of conferences and networking events, with webinars taking centre stage as the format of choice.
For many in the industry, this is the first foray into webinars. The learning curve has been steep for companies, presenters and the audiences. Now our inboxes are full of invites to webinars, and it is hard to know which is the good, the bad or the ugly.
Instead of concentrating on the amount of people registered, audience engagement should be the number one priority for anyone hosting or participating in a webinar. Hands up who has signed up for a webinar and has not stayed until the end or been too easily distracted and not listened to a word while answering emails and writing reports?
Webinars take a lot of time and effort to make them enjoyable, watchable and informative. Whether you are hosting a webinar or taking part, here are some top tips for creating an engaging and interesting experience.
Tell a story
Use good content to give the audience something memorable to take away. Rather than meander aimlessly from speaker to speaker and topic to topic, use a question to set the pace and create a story – with an arc, anecdotes and a beginning, middle and end. Even if is your first-time public speaking, if you have great quality content, the audience will forgive any stumbling over words or technical niggles.
Good quality audio
There is no point in spending hours producing stellar content if the audience cannot hear it. Consider buying a professional microphone – you will not have to break the bank to buy one to get the job done. Do you have strong internet connection? Nothing looks more amateur than somebody’s audio cutting in and out or, worse-case scenario, dropping out entirely. Try connecting your computer to your modem via a cable for a much faster connection.
How do you look?
How you look on camera is important. There are hundreds of tutorials and blogs on how to look professional on a video call or webinar – read them. Prepare for how you will appear on camera, pick the right background, get the camera angle right – nobody wants to look up your nose for the duration of a webinar. Rein4ce CEO Mairi Mallon goes into more detail in this blog on remote working.
Rehearse with someone and prepare what you are going to say. Don’t forget, a webinar’s function is not just to inform, but to entertain. Use humour, common sense, speak in an engaging tone and come up with some compelling soundbites. Remember, the webinar will usually be followed up with a write up, and you want to make sure you are quoted in that.
Use all of the channels at your disposal to promote your upcoming webinar – social media, email, newsletters, etc. You may even want to consider putting some budget into paid social to get in front of new contacts.
Respect your audience
Talk about the topic that you promised to address. People have tuned in for a particular topic and it is important to deliver this to them, otherwise you will lose them to work emails, text messages, social media and daily to-do lists.
You need to think about interaction during the webinar and afterwards. Make your audio files and presentation slides easy to access and replay. Are they free to access? The likelihood is that the speakers who participated will want to share the webinar on their own personal and company social media platforms as well.
Finish on a high
The ending of webinars are generally one of the most universally overlooked parts of any webinar. How many times have we heard “that’s all we have time for today” with a swift cut-off? Use this time to pull everything together, summarise the content and look forward to the next event. And don’t forget to thank your speakers and the audience.