I get to/choose to attend lots of webinars, seminars hosted on-line to demonstrate technology, inform participants of new releases or teach attendees about a particular subject. Webinars are invariably interesting, but some organizations are FAR better than others at getting the most out of these events. A few thoughts:

– Attendees pre-register and are later emailed details on how to join the event. Make sure this information is correct. I’ve registered for several webinars but had organizers email out incorrect times, log-in information or links. Once you lose a prospect through sloppiness, you may not get her back.

– Know your technology. If you want to play embedded videos of some sort, make sure that the computer from which the webinar is shared can run the video and that participants were informed in advance if they need a specific plug-in.

– On that topic: don’t require anything too strange. A lot of companies do not allow rank-and-file employees to download software, so requiring a cutting-edge plug-in may prevent users from seeing what you’re trying to show.

– If the webinar tool being used has a question/answer capability, pre-seed the questions with topics adjacent to the topic of the webinar. For example, if the stated topic of the webinar is CoolNewTool Rev. 1.1, ask and answer a simple licensing question such as “Is rev. 1.1 included in my maintenance subscription?” Keep it non-controversial, make CNT and its maker look good, but answer honestly.

– Keep the presentation short and anchored. This is PowerPoint 101: Organize the content so that attendees can follow it, make it visual enough to keep them engaged and refer to your context as often as possible. If you’re showing a long demo, periodicall remind attendees of the ultimate goal.

– Follow up. No matter what the topic or occasion, webinars are marketing tools. Email attendees a copy of the presentation (or at least a short summary), ask if they have any questions, automatically register them for the next webinar (if it’s a series of seminars) — do whatever it makes sense to stay engaged.

– Consider posting the webinar online, if bandwidth permits. I miss many sessions I’d like to attend, so make it easy for me to do it on my own time.

Too many companies look at the relatively low cost of a webinar and look at it as a quick
and dirty way to connect with customers and prospects. But put in a little extra effort and it’s a very valuable marketing tool.