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Run Your Webinar Like A Pro (and an Expert too) – Clare Fernando

Accurace recently ran a webinar communicating key learnings from recent research we conducted exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. I had not run a webinar in years. We did it originally in answer to requests from clients who wanted us to expound on the learnings from the research by presenting some strategies market leaders, challenger brands and community service organisations can implement to leverage the observed changes in consumer attitudes and behaviour to help them achieve their business objectives during this uncertain time. What I did not anticipate was how useful this activity would prove to be – to the attendees and to the organisers (including myself).

By the time we started the webinar, 103 people had registered to attend. 62 unique participants joined the webinar at the start (including those who shared their login details with work groups, so the number of attendees was bigger). 55 unique participants stayed for 45 minutes. 47 unique participants stayed for the full 60 minutes. When we analysed the results of the webinar feedback survey, 80% of attendees found that 50% of the content was new to them, 60% rated the webinar ‘good-excellent’, and 20% of attendees would actively recommend this webinar to their colleagues. In addition to this feedback, the webinar gave us an opportunity to connect with many of our clients, agency partners and ‘walk-ins’ in a fun capacity whilst showcasing what Accurace can do in the space of research. It also allowed us to do a soft launch of our logo redesign and raise our brand profile.

I have come to realise how valuable webinars can be in strengthening brand awareness, showcasing products and services, bolstering connections with clients, partners, and prospects, as well as communicating new insights in an engaging way. I have also come to realise 5 must-haves when organising and running a webinar to ensure success.

1) If possible, engage a moderator and an IT expert.

If you are anything like me (that is, IT-illiterate), having someone on-hand to address the IT issues (and trust me, they will emerge in the middle of the webinar) is invaluable. It could mean the difference between a smooth-running hour-long webinar or a staggered, 35-minute webinar punctuated with muffled expletives and profuse apologies. In our case, it was my husband who managed all the technological requirements with his usual calm demeanour, which also allowed me to continue unabated with the presentation without losing focus.

Another person to recruit if possible is a moderator, especially someone you are familiar with (to promote natural banter) and who can present well. A good moderator can set the stage right with a fantastic introduction, can organise which questions posted on the chat board will be answered, and can provide a welcome respite from the presenter’s voice. In our case, the moderator was Rebecca Tos who I have had the great fortune to work with in a variety of communication groups over the years, who now runs her own consulting company (Rebecca Tos Consulting). Having a moderator could mean the difference between an engaging and relaxed atmosphere of learning or a one-way lecture where attendees feel every one of those 3,600 seconds.

2) Make sure your topic is of real interest.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many invitations I receive for webinars exploring some little-known topic with a weak link to promoting the host’s products. I realise that most webinars are designed to further a company’s profitability. After all, so much work goes behind organising them. But make sure your product or service addresses a topic of real interest to the attendees. In our case, we wanted to showcase recent research we conducted as well as promote our research solutions. Based on conversations with our clients and agency partners, we knew that the pandemic was creating a marketplace where consumer attitudes and behaviour were changing, making it difficult for them to plan or strategise. So, we employed our research expertise to provide them with the answers they needed. We then developed a webinar as part of our communication strategy to convey these learnings.

3) Jazz up your slides

People are visual creatures and respond favourably to things that stimulate their eyeballs. It is important to create supporting material (e.g. presentation slides, videos, etc.) that invites viewers to watch and keep watching. In our case, we used bright vibrant colours as slide backgrounds and signposts for each section. We kept charts and numbers at a minimum (it tends to bring on that glazed look some people get when they see maths) and employed images and icons to illustrate key points. We also included videos of two business leaders who discussed how their companies have felt the impact of the pandemic and what initiatives they have implemented to either leverage an opportunity or overcome a challenge borne of the pandemic. Videos of real-world examples are always welcomed by the public as it makes the presentation more about them.

4) Allow your audience to interact with you and become part of the presentation

An interactive audience is a captive audience. Allowing your audience to become part of the presentation itself ensures the attendees are engaged and emotionally invested in staying longer (remember, your audience can leave your webinar at any time). In our case, we invited attendees to post their questions at any time during the webinar and we set up two Q&A sessions (in the middle and at the end of the webinar) where the moderator read out some of the questions and the presenter answered them. We also inserted two polls (one was 15 minutes into the webinar and the other was 15 minutes before the end of the webinar). Each question was linked to a learning from the research so when we revealed the results from the webinar polls, we could make comparisons with how the Australian population answered those questions too. There were a few ‘aha’ moments from this. Obviously, the webinar poll responses will not be statistically significant due to the small sample size, but it provides a bit more colour to the proceedings and allows the audience to become part of the experience.

5) Conduct a webinar feedback survey after your webinar to collect information to improve the next one

It is imperative that you conduct a webinar feedback survey within 24 hours post-webinar (while the webinar is still fresh in the minds of the attendees). It allows you to evaluate how effective the webinar was in achieving your communications objectives as well as provide some ideas for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of future webinars you run, strengthen your presentation skills, etc. If the feedback is favourable, you can print off the favourable comments, stick them on your vision board and during low moments look upon those positive comments and know that you are amazing!

For more information, please contact Clare Fernando (CEO, Accurace) on claref@accurace.com.au or +61 (0) 414 410 496.