If you think about it, webinars are just another way to deliver content to busy people. They combine visual and auditory channels that are missing from written articles. Attendance at webinars is primarily driven by great content but also by great promotion. I’ve produced and developed over 50 webinars and have learned a lot from my experiences over the years. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind when developing webinars.
Create relevant content
When it comes to developing a great webinar, you first need great content. Great content is hard to define because one tends to learn an audience’s preferences over time. Remember that an hour of someone’s day is very valuable, so avoid generic content that brings nothing new to the table. Work hard to uncover new insights or new technologies so your webinar isn’t a real yawner.
As an example, a webinar on energy efficiency could consider:
- Different business segments (schools, hospitals, manufacturing, and so on)
- A specific energy end use (HVAC, lighting, hot water, motors, boilers)
- Ancillary topics (financial payback analysis, energy planning, power quality)
- Seasonality (HVAC economizers in the summer, energy planning in January)
For instance, Questline’s webinar, Energy Management Opportunities for Restaurants & Food Service, covers energy savings in refrigeration, cooking, lighting, HVAC, and water heating. Those are all specific energy end uses for that particular business segment. However, we have also produced, What You Need to Know About Refrigeration Systems, a webinar that dives deep into how refrigeration equipment works, the different types of refrigeration systems, energy savings practices such as refrigerant oil additives and the latest refrigeration technical innovations. This webinar on end-use refrigeration applies not only to restaurants but also food manufacturers, grocery stores, universities, hotels, and many other business segments as well.
Incorporate poll questions
It’s actually really, really difficult to keep the attention of an online attendee, and incorporating some interactive elements, such as poll questions, can help to keep your busy audience focused and engaged.
I recommend creating poll questions that are multiple choice or that only require short answers. You want the interaction to make attendees feel their opinions are valued while keeping the interactions concise enough so they don’t distract from the overall webinar. Poll questions can ask opinions, help you learn more about your audience, or test facts already presented. Here are two examples:
Which occupancy sensor has the largest coverage area?
- Passive infrared (PIR)
Which of the following steps are the biggest barriers for your customers in achieving an annual energy plan (pick two)?
- Make a commitment
- Assess performance
- Set goals
- Create an action plan
- Implement the plan
- None of the above
You can poll the audience throughout the webinar, but be sure to always poll the audience at the end as well in order to get feedback that can improve your webinar for the future. For value judgments, a five-point answer is a best practice and should contain a description for each selection to clarify the terms used such as moderate, very, extremely, and so on. Validate your audience by acknowledging their responses so they feel a personal connection.
Promote, promote, promote
There’s no point in creating a great webinar if no one knows about it. Great promotion involves crafting a webinar invitation that has a thoughtful title, teaser, and description. The title and teaser are especially important to catch the attention of busy people. A “clever” title and teaser are not necessarily effective, though. Your invitation should answer “what’s in it for me?” This may sound obvious, but stating what participants will learn is often left out of invitations. Send invitations a few weeks before a webinar (any earlier and people will forget), and once people are registered, several reminder emails are critical. People are very busy (did I say that already?). Sending out a reminder the day before can increase audience attendance by 50%!
Apply these “secrets” and you will be delivering five-star webinars in no time!