Relying on outside presenters to create content for your webinar series is a smart decision – especially for organizations who realize their internal capacity to develop new presentations and topics is capped. Bringing in presenters who do not directly compete with your business, but who are closely associated enough to deliver value to your audience, is a creative solution that benefits your organization and the presenter’s.
One downside of relying on outside sources, however, is that the development of the actual webinar content is largely out of your hands. While you may have full confidence that your chosen presenter will put together a webinar that provides valuable, high quality information for your audience, you can’t really know unless you take the proper precautions.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure your webinar presentation provides excellent value for both your audience and your organization.
Date Agreement and Project Timeline
The first step to producing a successful webinar is to lock in a presentation date with your presenter as early as possible – which sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how quickly this can get out of control. In your first meeting with your presenter, it’s incredibly important to either settle on a firm date for when your webinar will be held, or sketch out a few potential days that might work for both of you.
This is important for a number of reasons. It sets a level of accountability with your presenter that will benefit you throughout the webinar drafting process, lets you immediately begin to structure your time moving forward as you plan your promotion and, most importantly, allows you to set important due dates for various aspects of the project with your presenter. These due dates might include:
- Developing a synopsis of the webinar
- Creating a draft of webinar slides
- Subsequent revisions to slides and content
- Testing of webinar system and presentation practice
Failing to set dates like these can lead to a lot of unnecessary headaches. If you don’t schedule the official presentation date early, then both you and your presenter increase the odds of forgetting about the presentation entirely and beginning a cycle of pushing the date back month by month. Furthermore, without setting that firm precedent at the beginning, it’s difficult to get your presenter to follow through on all the things you need from them. You don’t want to feel like you’re pulling teeth, trying to get an updated PowerPoint before the webinar date or, if worse comes to worst, having to cancel the presentation entirely.
Of course, before presenting your webinar, you need to ensure the content is up to your standards. After agreeing on a deadline for them to submit their PowerPoint draft, be prepared to take an active approach to editing their content. You may not be an expert on their subject matter, but you should have a firm grasp on how their content should be best laid out and how it aligns with your company’s brand and objectives.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind when editing a webinar presentation:
How is it structured?
Their presentation should follow a clear structure: brief introduction of the presenter/laying out of credentials, overview of webinar topic, background on topic and explanation of why knowing more about it is beneficial for the audience, solutions/insight, conclusion and slide with contact information.
Furthermore, the solutions and insight portion from the presenter should take up the bulk of the presentation time. If it seems like there’s too much setup for the webinar topic, your audience will likely tune out. Remember – they didn’t log-in to have a news article read to them; they went through all the trouble of registering for and attending this webinar because they want the exclusive opportunity to hear unique solutions from your presenter.
Make sure it’s not too salesy
Your attendees likely aren’t here looking for a pitch. Consider that some of your attendees have never heard of you or your presenter’s organization, but came across this webinar in your promotion through means like paid social advertisements. Some attendees might already be your existing customers just looking for more information on a potential topic. Others might be scoping out your organization, but need to be convinced of your expertise before they’re ready to reach out. Your focus should be on the content and presenting the best possible information first and foremost. Hosting a webinar is all about providing valuable information your audience needs – not trying to close a sale.
A quick way to ensure this presentation isn’t too salesy is to check the amount of times your presenter’s business name is mentioned. If you have endless slides about the background of their company, or the solutions portion of the presentation is just a breakdown of their services, that’s a clear sign your webinar is heading down the wrong path.
Schedule a call to discuss your edits. Point out that reducing the mentions of their company will actually benefit them, as the audience will likely feel misled if they end up spending their time attending a glorified sales pitch.
To hold your audience’s attention, your webinar slides have to be dynamic and engaging. This means avoiding paragraphs of text on every slide, adding images whenever possible and never spending too long on one particular slide. You want new information to be popping up in front of your audience regularly. This will keep them engaged and interested throughout the course of your presentation. If you see slides full of bullet points of information and nothing else, a simple fix is to ask your presenter to break the information out into multiple slides. Ask them to add in images to each slide that fits their content, or have them leave space that you can fill in during the next round of revisions.
System Run-Through and Practice
Once you have your schedule set up and content approved, you need to run through your webinar system and overall presentation with your presenter. We use GoToWebinar to host webinars, and to show a presenter how this system works, I set up a one-off “practice” webinar which we both log into to run through the system. During this practice session, I explain details like how their screen (with the PowerPoint) will be what attendees see, and let them know that I’ll handle all logistics, including responding to any issues that attendees might have joining or troubleshooting the webinar software.
It’s important to do this step at least several days before the webinar is held. You never know what issues might arise on your presenter’s end, and you don’t want to have to be troubleshooting these hours before your scheduled presentation. Maybe their computer system hasn’t been updated in a while and can’t handle the webinar software, or their internet connection isn’t strong enough. Whatever the reason may be, plenty of things can go wrong. Schedule your test early and make sure everyone is comfortable with the webinar system.
This is also a great opportunity to practice your upcoming webinar. No matter how good the presentation looks in PowerPoint, it’s still up to your presenter and you as a host to deliver an engaging webinar worth your audience’s time. Even if you only have time to do a quick run-through, do what you can and provide important feedback to your presenter.
One last note on practicing: be sure to monitor the length of their presentation. Ideally you want somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour; anything less will likely come off as slight and a waste of your attendees’ time.
The last thing you need to do is encourage your presenter to promote the webinar on their end. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it can be more difficult than it seems. As the outside presenter, they may assume that you’ll naturally be taking care of all of the marketing and they don’t need to do anything other than just share a post you tagged them in on social media. While this method has some value, it just doesn’t go far enough to ensure your webinar is reaching the right people.
Be up front with your presenter from the get-go and let them know your plans for promotion. Usually, we allot two weeks of promotion leading up to the webinar focusing on daily social posts, two to three emails and paid social advertising. Stress with them that it’s crucial they also promote regularly during your promotion window and get their agreement up front.
To help your presenter out, send all your planned promotional content including emails, social posts and more their way before you begin marketing the event. Encourage them to modify any of your posts so they better fit their company, and let them know how you plan to market the webinar on your end. Try to make it as easy as possible for them, because after this, it’s really out of your hands. You can monitor their social accounts for promotion and check in if you notice a lack of promotion, but other than that there’s not much else you can do. Continue to focus on promotion on your end and driving as many registrations as possible to your webinar.
After following these steps, you’ll be nicely set up to provide a webinar experience that provides tangible value for your audience and positions your organization as a source of essential information in your field.