Over the last year, more than 1900 individuals registered CMTO for webinars, so we're probably doing something right. In this article we look at what goes into making an engaging, fun and interesting webinar and how you can present a good webinar on behalf of your station or organisation.
Webinars are the digital answer to the problems with organising a meeting or a seminar. They're great for a whole bunch of reasons including the fact that you can wear your pyjamas to attend one! In our experience as a Registered Training Organisation, we use webinars to share learning materials and to inform our trainers of developments within our organisation and the community radio sector.
Whilst there are a bunch of different websites you can use to make a webinar, we at The CMTO have found GoToTraining does the trick (this is a subscription service but there are plenty of free options out there). It has a few handy tools like the ability to pre-register for a webinar, the flexibility to collect statistics on attendance of your webinars to use internally, and the interface is pretty user-friendly too.
Webinars are a great learning resource where visuals can complement the points the presenter is making. Webinars are also a fantastic networking tool for people within a certain sector or field of interest through the comments section. Among a bunch of other perks, they can be a really effective cost-cutting tool. You don't need to worry about catering, renting a space to have a seminar or travel! To nail a webinar, follow the VIP path! Visuals, Interactivity and Preparation.
Let's face it. Webinars aren't always going to be covering the most interesting topics. A good way around this is by creating some eye catching visuals your audience will be drawn to. When making the perfect visuals, you should be thinking beyond the powerpoint presentation and think about your demographic. Think about their age group, what looks 'cool', whether they might like to see pictures, hand drawn diagrams, or even memes. Does your audience listen to a particular type of music that might inspire the style of your webinar design? These are important things to think about. We also have some really handy articles on different types of graphics, how to make them yourself and with what tools to use.
Making people aware of your webinar is one thing - keeping them there is a totally different ballgame. It can be hard to maintain the focus of your audience over a long period of time. Generally, our webinars go for about an hour. We have found that any longer than that would be unproductive and people are likely to get bored (or need to go to the loo!). You should be thinking about different ways of making your webinar a two-way conversation rather than a tutorial video - people can just go to youtube for those.
GoToTraining allows you to create an interactive experience for your users. It has a chat feature, you can conduct quizzes and polls, verbally communicate with one another, share webcams and upload material for participants to download.
With any good presentation, preparation is key. For a start, if you don't think you know enough about a particular topic, it's a great idea to get a guest to deliver the webinar. Or even a couple of guests to make it interesting. This is not only another reason for people to register to the webinar, it also shows that your organisation has reputable representatives that make your organisation an influencer. Encourage your speakers to drop the script and talk about the topic as best they can with as little prompts as possible. Keep it conversational and informative.
Factor how much time you will be spending promoting the webinar into your preparation time. As a rule of thumb, it might be a good idea to announce the webinar 3-4 weeks before it is due to start. This will give your audience enough time to register and put it in their diary. Share the news on your station or organisation website, on air and on your social media platforms. Basically you want to be spreading the word to wherever your audience is. For more social media tips, walk in the shoes of our Marketing Assistant.
Whilst we have found that this is a pretty good way to ensure our webinars are great, you might find a slightly different technique that works for your station or organisation. Head to the CMTO Vimeo for past webinars and sign up to our monthly bulletin for information on when our next one is!