For over fifteen years, Sharyn Fitzpatrick aka Webinar Chick has been creating and managing revenue-generating and/or thought-leadership web seminar programs – including live conference events – with major media hubs such as Chief Learning Officer, Sales & Marketing Management, Recreation Management, PresentationXpert, and others. As the Chief Marketing and Webinar Guru at Marcom Gurus, she coaches organizations on how to create marketing programs utilizing both webcast and podcast technologies. She is an author and speaker on “Using Web Seminars for Lead Generation and Revenue” and “The Playbook for Building a Successful Webinar Program.”
In this conversation, Sharyn talks about preparing for webinars.
Geetesh: Sharyn, you have been working with webinars for so many years now. I remember you sent me an amazing checklist when you were doing a webinar with me a while ago. Can you tell us more about how you prepare for a webinar?
Sharyn: That is a great question. I think of every webinar as a production and you need to plan it out, so it is successful. I have a background in broadcasting and media and I have learned to have a backup plan and then a backup plan for my backup plan. There is a theme here – plan ahead! Here is how I prepare for webinars once a speaker and a topic have been confirmed:
- Create a webinar production worksheet (I have a template) which includes the title, abstract, speakers – including their bio, headshots, and contact info, descriptions for the webinar platform, website, and pre-and post-production emails and uploads, list of keywords, handouts (with links), a schedule for building registration including reminders, and any creative assets you may need such a title screen like the one we created for your event.
- Promotional campaign to build registration using HTML emails, social media, and hashtag strategies.
- I use Hootsuite to schedule the posts with custom links so I can track which sources are the best ones to drive registration
- Preparing the Speaker – each speaker will get a webinar planning checklist with tasks and due dates.
- Part of the preparation is making sure the presenter knows the webinar platform, its capabilities for audience engagement, and is comfortable with using it, so their content can be the star of the show.
- Schedule at least one or two dry runs three to five days in advance of your live event. This will enable your speaker to practice, share their slides, and then have time to make any changes.
- Preparing for the live webinar
- Plan out your audience engagement – use polls, group chat, moderator chat with pre-written info on handouts, etc.
- Have planned breaks in the content so the webinar is a conversation, not a one-way dialog. One option is to have five questions prepared that you could ask during the event or in the Q&A session.
- Have an emergency plan when the speaker is traveling or might have internet challenges. This came in handy when one of our speakers, who was in Thailand, lost his internet connection. We built in several questions with answers that would provide a distraction till the speaker re-connected. The audience never knew what happened.
- Create a moderator script (yes, I have a template for that, too) that is both visually appealing and informational. It includes logistics, such as webinar platform log-ins, emergency numbers, and scheduling. Use it as a guide to what to say for each housekeeping slides and to follow along with the speaker’s presentation. I add pictures of the slides to the script so you can follow along, and I use icons to let the team know what is next and what action will happen:
- Have fun, be engaging – that will drive audience engagement.
Geetesh: Do you also help others organize webinars? I know that there are so many first-timers or newbies who would appreciate some help. How can you help them?
Sharyn: Yes, I fill the role of producer, moderator, and teacher for anyone who wants to do webinars. By following my process as I shared above, organizations can create new webinar programs, improve poor performing webinars, and build the audience engagement. Currently, I do webinars for several magazines, a software-defined networking company, and an employee assistance organization. On the back-end, I also do metrics as part of post-webinar analysis. Recently, we just finished an audit of how much revenue opportunities the webinar program had brought. It was over $4M which justifies the cost of setting up and implementing the program.