How to host a webinar people won’t want to miss

Thomas Paris
August 18, 2021
How to host a webinar people won’t want to miss | Hoppier

Webinars can be a powerful part of your marketing and sales toolkit. These virtual events are a great way to share knowledge, introduce products, generate interest, and move people further down the sales pipeline.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at how to plan, organize, and host a webinar. We’ll also cover some ways to make your webinar more engaging — including a fun tactic to introduce some real-life elements into these virtual events.

How to host a webinar

All the best webinars start with one thing — careful strategic planning. After all, you can’t convince your audience that your virtual event is worth their time if you haven’t spent enough of yours putting it together. Here’s how to plan and host a webinar in 10 easy steps.

1. Choose a topic and format

A successful webinar can bring you new leads, sales, and higher engagement from customers. To attract their attention in the first place, your webinar needs to feature an interesting topic and be structured in an attractive way.

Choose a subject matter that appeals to your audience. Maybe they want to get a better understanding of a new product feature, or learn some tips and industry trends. Look for a specific topic that you’re an expert on and that has close links to your product or service. Make it exciting too — look for an interesting angle, exclusive content, or fresh new opinions to share with your viewers.

You’ll also need to decide on the webinar format. Host an interactive panel session with a moderator, opt for a Q&A session, or host a presentation that's more focused on teaching. Each option has its own merits, but think about what your target audience’s goal is and pick a webinar format that suits this. For example, if you’re teaching a new product feature, a masterclass style format works best. For sharing opinions and insights, a panel format is a great option.

2. Assemble your team

Running a webinar isn’t often a solo effort, unless you’re running a small business. To make it really work, you’ll need a great team of people, each with their own responsibilities.

First, you’ll need someone to handle the event planning and organization. Their role is to take the webinar from idea to reality, handling all the details along the way. Areas like registering guests, booking speakers, arranging event technology, and communicating with others are all part of this role.

Another key member of your webinar team is your speaker or host. This person is the face of your webinar and needs to be great at engaging your audience to listen, get involved, and take action. They need to be warm, persuasive, and confident in front of the webcam.

Successful webinars are often supported by other team members, too. Marketers can help with lead generation, SEO, and your overall event marketing strategy. Technical assistants can be on hand to help with any issues on the day and to prepare the speakers in advance. Product experts are also great people to involve — especially if you want to demo your product features.

3. Choose a webinar platform

Hosting a webinar can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. When it comes to technology, there are lots of options — from your standard video conferencing tools to dedicated webinar software.

Everyday video tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts are great options for a casual webinar where you don’t have too many guests joining you. They’re also good if your audience isn’t great with technology, as chances are these tools are already familiar to most.

For a larger number of attendees or a more specialized webinar, consider investing in a dedicated webinar platform like GoToWebinar or ClickMeeting. These virtual event platforms have extra features designed to make hosting a webinar easier — like webinar registration pages, pre-event waiting rooms, and interactive features like polls and whiteboards.

4. Find the right date and time

The beauty of a webinar is that you don’t need to scout around for the perfect location to host your guests. Instead, this virtual event makes it easier for more people to tune in and hear from you. Still, you’ll want to maximize the chances that people can attend by choosing the right date and time.

Think about when your target audience is most busy and when they have free time. If they’re typically busy during the day, an evening webinar might work best. For others, a session they can join over their lunch break is a better option. Choose a day of the week that suits your audience and topic best — for industry insights, it might be the start of the week, but for a training webinar, a Friday afternoon could also work.

Another thing to consider is time zones. If you’re only hosting one webinar, choose a time that works well for people in multiple time zones. This is especially important if you have a global audience, as someone’s 2 p.m. is another person’s 9 a.m. If you’re limited by speaker availability or other constraints, consider making a recorded version available to people who pre-register, or host multiple webinars on different days and times.

5. Create your webinar content

How to host a webinar: A person creates webinar content

Once you’ve decided on a topic and booked a speaker, you can start creating content. The content you create will depend on the format you’ve chosen, your subject matter, and what your audience wants to see most.

Think about the goal of your webinar — both from your perspective and your audience’s. Plan your content around this, and then create slides and visual elements that support the information your expert plans to share. If you’re sharing a lot of technical information or data, you’ll need slides with graphs and charts. For a product demo, you’ll need to screen share to show the features.

To make your webinar engaging, create some visual slides that add interest to the virtual event. Even if most of your webinar features a live video feed from a speaker, it’s helpful to create a template welcome slide, agenda slide, and outro slide with your branding on them.

Try to avoid adding too much text to your webinar slides. You want your audience to listen to your speaker, not read through a wall of text. Be mindful of not including enough, though — your webinar should still be accessible to those who can’t follow the audio conversation.

6. Get your equipment ready

With your format chosen and your content ready, the last thing you’ll need before you host your webinar is the right equipment. Whether this is just a simple laptop or a more elaborate setup, you’ll need it set and ready to go.

For an informal free webinar you can likely make do with a standard laptop and webcam. The quality won’t be amazing, but it’s a more affordable way to broadcast to your audience. For a more professional look and feel, invest in high-quality equipment.

High definition webcams or video cameras and professional headsets improve the audio and visual quality immensely. There’s nothing worse for your audience than knowing the content is great but not being able to concentrate on it because of bad audio. Level up your equipment and give your experts a better chance to engage viewers and encourage them to take action.

7. Host a practice run

Running a live virtual event can be nerve wracking — especially if it’s your first webinar. To help calm nerves and ensure you appear confident, get your team together beforehand to practice everything.

Hold a dry run of your webinar in the weeks before it’s scheduled. Set up your equipment, have your speakers ready, and run your slides just as you would on the day. This is a great way to identify potential issues, make sure everything’s working, and check with your team to make sure they’re comfortable.

As well as doing a run through of your webinar, prepare your team for what they should do if something doesn’t go to plan on the day. Have an assistant ready to step in and support them, and let them know who to contact or what cues to share if they need help during the live event.

8. Promote your webinar

For your webinar to be a success, you first need the right people to attend. This is where promotion comes in, and you’ll want to focus a lot of your efforts on generating demand and signups for your virtual event.

Design an attractive landing page and run digital marketing campaigns to reach your target audience on social media platforms, through ad networks, and in relevant digital communities. Feature a strong call to action to encourage people to register for your event. Introduce a referral incentive too so people are more likely to forward the details to a coworker or friend.

Once your webinar guests have registered, you can continue communicating with them ahead of the event. Send reminder emails to registrants so they don’t miss the event and give extra value to those on your email list by sharing further insights about the webinar in advance.

9. Host your webinar

When the day finally rolls around, it’s time to host your live webinar like a pro. With all the preparation and testing complete, your team should be ready to smile and deliver.

Be on hand to welcome guests as they tune in for your live webinar, or have a holding slide ready with some useful information in the pre-event virtual lobby. During the event, keep energy up and encourage people to participate when there’s the opportunity to.

Provide plenty of value with useful information, and offer resources and materials for your audience to download so they can spend more time listening and less time taking notes. Don’t forget to record your webinar too so you can offer it on demand to people who couldn’t make it on the day. Not only is this a thoughtful gesture, but over time you can build up a library of resources for potential customers to explore.

10. Check in with your audience after the event

The event may be over, but your relationship with your viewers isn’t. If you don’t engage with them beyond the webinar, you’re missing out on opportunities to gain valuable insights, retain existing customers, or make new sales.

Follow up with your webinar attendees after the event and continue to develop a connection with them. If your webinar was part of a sales funnel, let them know about any exclusive or time-limited discounts they’re entitled to.

You can also share useful resources like files, links, and reports, and let people know where they can find you on social media. Now is also a great time to send a post-event survey to capture feedback that you can use to shape future webinars and events.

How to make your webinar more attractive

How to host a webinar: A person holds a microphone to present at a webinar

As virtual events have become more popular than ever, webinars have been popping up everywhere. This means there’s extra competition for your webinar audience, so it needs to stand out. Here’s how to make your event a more enticing prospect than someone else’s.

Respect people’s time

People are busy and are often facing competing demands for their time. For people on a hectic schedule or with multiple responsibilities, online events can feel like a luxury they can’t enjoy. Make it easier for everyone by respecting people’s time.

Host webinars that are only as long as they need to be. Offer a recording for people who can’t make it, and schedule your webinar for times that are accessible to a wide range of people. These are all simple yet thoughtful ways to encourage more people to join your event.

Use event branding

Zoom fatigue is real, and often virtual events don’t distinguish themselves from each other in a major way — unless they’re a big, branded affair. Take inspiration from experiential events and other marketing strategies and introduce virtual event branding for your webinar series.

Use the same color palette as your own brand colors, and create a look and feel that stands out in the world of professional virtual events.

Create a simple logo and templates that you can share on social media and your website to help with promotion, and personalize your webinar platform to feature similar visuals. This helps your event feel more cohesive and intentional, giving people confidence that it’s worth dedicating their time to attend.

Book an expert speaker

Nothing says “unmissable event” like a big name speaker that your audience knows, likes, and trusts. If you have the budget and connections, bringing an industry expert in to host your webinar is one of the best ways to drive registrations and engagement.

If you can’t book an expert speaker, look to one of your own in-house pros to lead the session. It’s best if you can feature someone who's knowledgeable on the topic — for example, have someone from your product design team walk the audience through a features demo, or ask your marketing director to lead a session about industry trends.

Make it interactive

Some webinars feel like you’re just sitting and watching a presentation with an endless number of slides. Focus on making your webinar as engaging as possible for your audience so they don’t tune out.

Provide opportunities for people to comment, ask questions, or take part in polls, quizzes, and surveys. Add gamification elements to your webinar series if you can, and reward attendees with prizes like gift cards for being present, taking part, and referring others.

Add a hybrid element

Virtual events can feel one-sided and lack the atmosphere that many in-person events have. To help address this, look for ways to add a hybrid element to your online event.

A simple and effective way to do this is through event catering and corporate gifting. Use Hoppier virtual cards to allow your guests to order drinks, snacks, or lunch from their favorite local vendors. You can also use the cards as part of a digital swag bag alongside discounts, coupons, and other digital bonuses.

Offer an exclusive

There are so many companies out there competing for your target audience’s time with virtual events — often on similar subject matters. Stand out by giving people an exclusive that they can’t get from anyone else.

If you can host an exclusive Q&A with an industry expert who's notoriously hard to lock down, that’s a huge win. You can also offer product or service exclusives — like the chance to trial a new feature, a free upgrade to your top tier plan, or an impressive discount on a new product launch.

Hoppier: A fun way to liven up your webinar experience

With so many virtual events to choose from, you need to stand out from the crowd. Hoppier gives you an easy way to do this through fun, interactive event catering and gifting experiences.

Fun for guests

At an in-person event, guests can order a coffee or a drink from the bar, then spend time getting to know others in a relaxed environment. That’s harder with most virtual events when you’re behind a screen with only your homemade drinks and snacks to keep you company.

Give your guests a little pick-me-up with a Hoppier virtual card, loaded with a balance that they can spend with local vendors. They can order a specialty coffee from their favorite coffee shop or get lunch from their most-loved sushi bar.

How to host a webinar: vendors webinar guests can purchase from for catering

You don’t have to limit the choices to food vendors, either. Keep the options open and let guests use their Hoppier card as a thank you gift, sales incentive, or digital goody bag instead. They can treat themselves to entertainment, wellness, or another product of their choice.

Easy to manage

Sending drinks and food to webinar guests by mail can be a logistics nightmare — especially if your guests are located around the world. Forget all the hassle by using Hoppier virtual cards to put the funds and choosing power in the hands of your guests.

A virtual credit card used to cater a webinar

It’s easy to set up and manage your event catering or corporate gifting campaigns. Create a program, customize your card with colors and branding, and set a spending limit. You can also limit vendors and set expiration dates to personalize your guests’ experience — or leave it open for a more relaxed way to engage your audience.

Host an exciting webinar your guests won’t want to miss

Webinars can be hit or miss. Sometimes they’re amazing and full of value — other times they’re nothing more than a badly executed sales pitch. Follow the steps above, keep your audience’s needs in mind, and introduce some interactive elements, and you have the recipe for an unmissable webinar.

If you’re looking for a fun way to add a hybrid element to your online events, give Hoppier a try. It’s a simple way to not only keep your attendees engaged, but also to simplify your virtual event logistics. To learn more, book a demo with our friendly team.

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