Webinar Best Practices for Law Firms: It’s All About the Audience’s POV (and Starting on Time)

Maybe it’s just my bad luck, but recently I’ve attended a string of webinars that suffered from poor preparation in one or both of two areas: content and technical direction. Since it’s a time-tested technique, there is a lot of good material available to help you compose, market and execute a successful webinar.

Ken Molay of Webinar Success created a comprehensive tutorial on webinar best practices that reminds:

  • It is vital to consider the audience’s perspective at every stage of your planning, preparation, presentation, and follow-through. Encourage your audience to take each desired action by emphasizing the value and benefit to them of doing so.
  • Work on ways to build registration and attendance for your webinar by setting up processes that simplify required actions and reinforce value.
  • Webinar presenters need to prepare their physical environment and their presentation planning to facilitate a successful delivery.
  • Rehearsals are critical in achieving comfort and confidence in the presentation, while backup planning can help avoid cancellation of an event when things go wrong.
  • Presentation style needs to continually refocus the audience’s attention and enthusiasm for the subject material.
  • Find ways to connect with and stimulate your attendees through vocal delivery and careful selection of content.
  • After your presentation, act quickly to take advantage of the trust and goodwill you have built with your audience. Don’t forget registrants who did not attend, because they are excellent prospects for viewing recordings or signing up for future webinars.

As for running the event itself, HubSpot created a checklist of production tips to help your webinar run smoothly:
  1. Leading up to the webinar, send a reminder email twice – once 1 day before the webinar and once 1 hour before the webinar.
  2. Prior to the webinar starting, have someone on your team dial-in to make sure the number is working for participants. Have this person send you a question so you know it’s working (and can see what it will look inside the webinar software).
  3. Let the audience know in the introduction how you will be dealing with questions (whether you’ll respond to select questions at the end, try to take them during the session, etc.).
  4. When doing a demo or showing software, try not to move too quickly (or scroll up and down a web page too quickly). Often, a refresh takes some time to complete based on the user’s bandwidth. Plan on it taking about 5 seconds every time you change your screen for everyone to see the change.
  5. Have a definitive “stop” to the core material (within the time allotted). This is similar to what you’d do in an offline meeting. This way, those that only scheduled the appropriate time know when you are done and are not irritated by the fact that they’re missing something “core”. It’s okay to extend beyond the end time as long as the “officially scheduled program” has a clean end and those that need to leave can leave.
  6. Close ALL unnecessary applications, especially Outlook, Instant Messenger, etc. You do not want any personal or confidential info displayed, and you just don’t want to interrupt the webinar with any notifications that pop up.
  7. Start 2 minutes past the hour. This gives people time to call in, but does not make those on time wait too long and annoy them for being on time. Those who call in a couple more minutes later usually do not miss much.  Also, starting on time helps people show up on time for future webinars. It is tempting as a presenter to wait for more people to join. Be strong, don’t do it.
  8. Call into the meeting at least 15 minutes early. Before you call in to start the meeting, with many types of conferencing software everyone else hears an annoying beep and has no idea if they are in the right meeting. If you call in early everyone will know they are in the right place.
  9. Use pre-webinar slides & announcements. Put up a slide that says something like “the webinar will begin in 10 minutes” so when people log in they know it is working, and then update it to show the actual time until the webinar. You should also make an announcement on the call every few minutes to let people know it will start soon and their audio is working.
  10. Send out a recording and the slides to people within 24 hours, and tell them during the webinar you will do this. About 10-20% of your attendees will email you looking for the info anyway, so just send it out. Fast follow-up helps you motivate people to take a next step while the webinar is still on their mind.
What’s the “secret sauce” in your webinars?

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