Remote control? How to organise a winning webinar
While it is great to get like-minded people together in one room to debate the important issues at hand, this isn’t always possible to achieve. Luckily, today’s technology allows meetings to be set up remotely, with participants dialling in to provide their input over the phone, or logging on to their PC, laptop or tablet to watch and take part in a seminar happening elsewhere – even on the other side of the world.
Organising a webinar - a seminar that is transmitted online - brings its own challenges. Even though your direct, face-to-face contact with delegates is reduced, this doesn’t mean you have less to do to make them feel involved. It could be said that your job is harder, as you will need to keep people engaged via a screen or phone line and prevent them from becoming distracted by phone messages, emails and other calls on their time.
First, make sure that a webinar or remote event really is the best way to convey your information. Can you get everything done that you need to without actually calling people in to an office or meeting venue? If the answer is yes, then you need to consider who your audience will be, what the subject matter is, how long you will need to cover your chosen topics and – importantly, where you will host your webinar.
Location, location, location
Choosing the right venue for your webinar is crucial Even though most of your audience will be physically located elsewhere, you still need to create the right atmosphere. A professional conference venue offers a smart, business-like setting that comes with key facilities, such as IT support, presentation equipment, microphones and professional lighting. Investing in a serious venue shows your audience that you are taking the event seriously and value the time they are giving up to ‘attend’ remotely.
Prepare for your webinar just as you would a traditional meeting. Send out agendas with date, time and log in details, find out who is planning to attend and give people enough notice to make arrangements to take part. Don’t forget to publicise your event on your website and social media channels and via industry-specific online outlets and events. Prepare delegate information packs and decide whether you will email these, post hard copies or make the files available online to download.
You will need at least one presenter, who should be engaging, professional and, if possible, trained in speaking online. He or she will have to work much harder to capture and maintain the audience’s attention. They will need to speak slowly and clearly, overcome any transmission difficulties and not be put off by technical issues, should they arise. It is a nice touch to start the webinar with someone who will welcome the audience and introduce the main speaker or panel of speakers. This will emulate a traditional conference session or seminar more closely and help add variety.
If you are planning to show a PowerPoint presentation, make sure the IT is working first and do a dry run before turning on the cameras. If you want to encourage input from your audience, test the webinar tool you are using well in advance to make sure they can dial in, send in comments or download any associated materials. Most importantly, make sure people can see and hear what is being said and that microphones are set to the correct volume.
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