In just over a decade, the internet has transformed the way we live. Life as we know it is now more convenient and more social and growing ever so futuristic. A lot of the things we used to do manually can now be done online without us having to leave the house. In business, conferences and events that required air travel and accommodation are now being replaced with a more convenient solution which is webinars. This convenient, cost-effective way of doing meetings is becoming the new normal, with a near-universal adoption.
Webinar, formed from combining web and seminar, basically means a seminar that takes place over the internet. It is an online event that brings together presenters and viewers from different locations through internet-supported software.
In keeping with real-world seminars, webinars try to replicate the experience by supporting interactive features such as Q&A sessions and live discussions. In some cases, a webinar might be staged in a venue that has a live audience to add to the authenticity. They are often taped for future use, extending their usefulness past the present when they occur.
With webinars, your participants reap the benefits of attending and participating without dealing with the hassles of travel. They connect through their computers, or their handheld devices as these are supported too.
Meaning & Purposes
Webinars are used in business with the purpose of demonstrating, educating, or building relationships. They are used within an organizational setup also to hold internal meetings, more so if the team members are dispersed across different regions. Webinars are used for:
Product launches– When a company is introducing new products and features. It is a strategy popularized by Apple since the launch of its first iPhone.
Product demos– Webinars offer the perfect platform to demonstrate how a product or service works. It allows a larger audience to be involved, and witness for themselves how to use a product or service they already have or are expecting. This works well when it is designed to be a live Q & session where the audience can get involved with short answer questions.
Training– A webinar is also ideal for inducting new employees into the business or for continuous education of the existing ones. For those wishing to reach a larger international audience, a webinar offers the most plausible way of doing so.
Sales and Marketing– Webinars are being increasingly popular in brand marketing. Startups and SMEs can use them to create more awareness of their businesses. The emails that register for them can be added to the emailing list, thereby offering an opportunity for future engagement and conversion through email marketing.
Interviews– Another webinar function that encourages engagement. By bringing an expert into the conversation, you offer your audience added insight and encourage participation, improving the stock of your brand.
Types of webinars
It is easy to think of webinars as purely live events, but they can be more than that. A webinar can either be:
Live– Where all events occur in real-time. This is the classic webinar format and allows for interactivity between the presenters and the audience. Because it is unfiltered, it feels more authentic.
Prerecorded– These are webinars of the past that are replayed for the value they still have to offer. They are ideal for disseminating information. It supports playback so viewers have control over the bits they want to focus on.
Why Use Webinars?
There are many reasons why a webinar is so effective.
- It encourages interactivity between the host and the attendees, and the exchange of ideas, questions, and feedback. This ability to engage offers a backdrop to establish a gainful relationship.
- It allows screen sharing so that participants can see both the material being presented and the face of the presenter.
- It has the ability to record and allows the webinar to be repurposed for later use in workshops and training.
- The fact that there are no limitations in space means many participants can get involved. At a time when the gathering is losing its appeal, this is one of its most compelling attributes.
How it works?
Webinars share a lot with video conferences. Whereas the latter invite discussions from attendants, webinars are more focused on the presenters.
Webinars also support larger audiences. Unlike conferences or online meetings, webinars are delicately preplanned. They are real events, occurring in real-time, and adhere to a few rules.
Registration is a prerequisite. Email invites are sent out to chosen participants, who reply confirming their attendance or lack thereof. For those invited through social media, they need to fill out an online form. For those learning about the event through the website of their hosts, they get a special landing page where they can register for participation.
Hosting a webinar
If you plan on hosting your own webinar, there are some things you need to address.
- The structure
Choose a topic for your webinar. The topic should be of interest and relevance to your audience. Draw inspiration from questions or comments frequently mentioned by your followers or clients. This is even more important if you have a marketing objective to meet. Your webinar should ideally be 45 minutes long to an hour. It should start with a presentation by the hosts, followed by a Q&A session. A sales pitch can be added at the end if relevant or necessary. A slide deck is both desirable and convenient, and easy to create with programs such as Keynote or PowerPoint. It adds elements that help your audience keep up with your speakers.
There are different design trends you can look into as you finalize on your slide design.
Minimalist– This clean look that lacks any distractions is perfect to keep your audience focused on the material you are delivering.
Vintage– This has that classic aesthetic, with soft hues and an appealing retro styling. It is ideal if you want to break away from the loud contemporary styles that are highly popular now.
Dark Themed– Dark backgrounds work because they are nice to read on than brighter ones. Now popular on smartphones, a dark display is ideal for long presentations as it doesn’t tire out the eyes of your audience as much.
Look for a good template to help you design a compelling presentation. Some suggestions for good webinar templates include:
Magnum– It has eight color schemes that you can use as primaries for your presentation. The template is rich with close to one thousand editable slides. It also supports lists, graphs, tables, infographics and custom animations.
The Beginning– It has 50 beautiful templates that are adaptable to any topic. The template supports infographics and icons, and has a dark mode as well.
Metropolis– It features 50 unique slides, adaptable to both light and dark modes. It has a professional outlook, and maintains simplicity throughout.
Eduvision– Designed for educational content, it features over 50 template. It supports aspect rations of 16:9 and 4:3 as well as the usual graphics.
Pozea– It boasts over 150 slide designs and a simple to use drag-and-drop interface. It however only has two main color schemes to choose from.
- Technical Considerations
The most basic among these is a webinar platform. These are available in some abundance, with both free and paid options being offered. The paid platforms are more compelling because they offer more features, and support for polls, screen share, live chat, webcam, and recording. They also support more participants and offer you control functions such as muting/unmuting participants and kicking out those that are unruly.
A good camera is essential to enable your audience see you. Having a face to accompany your voice allows other participants to be more immersed, making it easier to build relationships with them. Your computer’s webcam is good enough to function, but a higher resolution pro camera is recommended. It affords you more control over movement, as well as positions and angles. When used with software, you get control over different settings such as brightness and contrast.
A microphone is the other required piece of equipment. There is a wide variety of these, ranging from simple headsets to boom microphones. Built-in microphones offer superior sound quality in many cases, and are a solid choice for those on budget.
Good lighting makes for great videos. Take time to illuminate your station so that it’s neither too bright nor too dark. There are lights specially designed to accentuate your face and are a perfect investment for creating other video content as well.
The last consideration is a strong internet connection. A high-quality connection will ensure your webinar is smooth and uninterrupted with high audio and video quality. Any speed north of 5mbps should be sufficient though the desired average is 15mbps.
Promoting your Webinar
Getting a solid attendance on your webinar is one way to measure whether your webinar is successful. Much like in-person conferences, you need to create some hype for the event. Use your digital channels- social media, YouTube, paid ads on Google- to attract the participants you want attending. Traditional outlets such as TV and radio also work, as does print advertising.
Joining a Webinar
To join a webinar, you (or the audience joining yours) need to download a small application as advised by the host. Depending on the platform, you can get a link on email that will offer passage to the webinar. You don’t need to join the video of the webinar, as this is not a prerequisite. However, for small webinars where only a handful of participants are present, using your webcam is recommended.
Benefits of using a webinar
A webinar offers a lot of benefits which make it useful as a tool for business. They include:
Generating leads– The emails used to sign up for webinars can be saved into contacts for future use. These are solid leads because they belong to an audience that already has interest in your offerings.
Creating video content– Recorded webinars can be attached to your website to land more visitors or posted on YouTube and other social media to attract more followers.
Costs– Planning a real-life event involves a lot of logistics. Booking venues, planning for food and accommodation can be financially and mentally exhausting. Webinars remove all these headaches making it easier to bring together many people without incurring large costs.