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How to give a webinar (and not look like an idiot)

Denise Persson | Feb. 20, 2009
Many people would rather visit the dentist or pay taxes than speak publicly.

FRAMINGHAM, 19 FEBRUARY 2009 - Someone taps you on the shoulder and says, "We scheduled a webinar to show off the important technology the company has developed. And since you know it better than anyone else, we decided that you are the one who should be in front of the camera."

Lucky you.

Many people would rather visit the dentist or pay taxes than speak publicly. They might even prefer to pay the dentist's taxes than stand up in front of a crowd. Perhaps this fear of public embarrassment is why so many business professionals are nervous about hosting a webinar.

However, a webinar probably is a good idea, at least for your business, because these online presentations are a unique opportunity to engage clients on a one-to-one basis, regardless of audience size. Using the right materials and presentation techniques, you can interact with each individual participant, instead of addressing a large, faceless group of strangers. How can you get past the gut-wrenching fear that you"ll make a fool of yourself?

Use our tips to stop worrying and approach your webinar assignment with confidence.

Prepare Properly Before The Webinar

One way to get yourself focused is to eliminate distractions. Make sure that you have taken care of all the details ahead of time, so you can put your attention on giving the presentation during the webinar.

And, to some degree, that means, "Gosh, I hope people show up."

So get the schedule in order, so that you attract the most people. Plan to host your webinar at least twice, to accommodate different time zones. Avoid Mondays and Fridays, as these are peak meetings days; webinar attendance is therefore often lower. The best times are 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, which is when your guests are at their desks before or after lunch. Send a reminder of the webinar one week ahead of time, and a second reminder the day before the event.

Your initial planning stage should start about four weeks before the webinar; this is not the sort of homework assignment you want to begin the night before the term paper is due. That will only increase your nervousness. In the early planning stages, your primary attention should be on developing a compelling topic, identifying presenters and target audience, and--for marketers, not necessarily you-the-presenter--the promotional outreach campaign.

Develop Your Content

Developing interesting, engaging and educational content is probably the most important key to your webinar's success. If your material is boring or doesn't bring relevant value, you'll lose your guests--and their sales.

Invite an industry expert, customer or partner to present a case study or conduct an interview during your webinar. This will stimulate more interest and drive participation. A well-known subject matter expert can double or even triple your attendance.


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