A great webinar can be incredibly powerfula chance for your best people to engage in real time with hundreds of prospects to carry them on a rollercoaster journey that leaves them ready to buy. But they can also be incredibly stressful to deliver.

There are a lot of moving parts to take into consideration when planning a webinarwhat with creating your content, managing the multi-touch invitation processes, setting up the live-streaming platform and co-ordinating your presenters. Delivering the live event itself can often be fraught with last-minute issues about logistics, sound quality, connectivity and content. By the time the event is over, it’s understandable that you’d be happy to never set eyes on the recording again. But, of course, as with any piece of content you should leverage it on your website, through your social channels and as part of your lead nurturing campaigns.

As a team, we’ve run our fair share of webinars, so we’ve developed some best practices that can help to make the process slightly easier and help you get better results.

Make sure you have something to say

The business may put pressure on you to deliver a webinar as part of a customer/prospect outreach schedule. But just putting on an event for the sake of it when you don’t have a valuable message will turn your regular viewers offand they’re too valuable to lose. Planning in advance is vital to make sure you know exactly what content you will deliver to your audience. And don’t over-use the format. It’s better to use other channels, like newsletters and emails, to keep in touch regularly, so you can save the live events for when they really count.

Be consistent in message and delivery

If you’re delivering a series of webinars, maintain the same look and feel throughout all the events. Position each session in context to the last and use the same presenters if you can. It will look and sound a lot more consistent when the recordings are posted next to each other as on-demand assets.

Rehearse without fail

Don’t let your presenters convince you that they’ve done this a million times before and can just turn up and belt out a great performance. There’s nothing worse than having to field questions about the running order or the main messages five minutes before you go live. All of that should be handled in at least one rehearsal session, one to two weeks in advance, or more if you feel the need. During the event, let your audience give their feedback, tooinclude a poll question for the attendees to rate the presenter, so you have an important benchmark for quality.

Get the technology right

Satisfy yourself that you’ve got the streaming platform set up properly to record, your sound quality is as good as it can be and that there is a technical specialist on hand to offer support for the live event in case of difficulty. Use cabled connections where possible and good quality headsets. Ensure everyone has a paper copy of the slides in case of computer problems. Most importantly, make sure your presenters are in a quiet room with their phones switched offthey should certainly not present while travelling or sat in an open-plan office.

Promote before AND after the event

Too often we judge the success or failure of a webinar by the live attendance figures only. But viewers’ schedules change at short notice and you may get a lower turn out than you hoped. You can address this in two ways. Firstly, be sure to highlight the fact that a link to a recording of the event will be sent out to everyone who registers, whether they attend live or not. Often people will sign up with the express intention of watching on-demand at a time that suits them. Secondly, don’t forget the value of that recording for future marketing programmes. It can be used as part of a lead nurture campaign, or you can promote it to an entirely new segment of contacts that may not have received the original invitation.

Keep an eye on the number of downloads of webinar recordings as an ongoing measure of success. One well-conceived, well-executed event can bring value for months after it is delivered, and make all that effort seem worthwhile. And remember, as part of your content marketing strategy, you can extract key messages, re-use, recycle, and re-purpose for future campaigns.

Posted by John on 31 July 2013