In this fast paced Wall Street world, not only is it a constant challenge to reach the people you want to be talking to, but also to keep their attention once you do. Webinars are an excellent tool to reach a greater scale of people from the comfort and convenience of their desks while showing off your expertise, and positioning yourselves as industry thought leaders and problem solvers. If you are going to take the time to plan a webinar however, do it right. To help you do that, here is Financial Technologies Forum’s Top 10 List of Dos and Don’ts that we advise our clients to follow when planning a webinar for Wall Street. While this list might not be as humorous as what you hear on The David Letterman Show, if you don’t follow these rules when planning a webinar, you will get the same amount of laughter from your audience. Now that you are paying attention, let’s get to work:
10. Don’t use just any technology/Do use technology that is both professional and easy to use
There are a lot of webinar providers out there. Do your due diligence and select the best one that you feel is both user friendly and professional looking. The cheapest is not always the best quality or easiest to use.
9. Don’t use slides with tons of data and charts/Do take into consideration how your slides look on a smaller screen
Charts and tables with a lot of text and data can prove difficult for viewers to read. So, while you are talking and referring to charts you are familiar with, it can be frustrating for the attendee to follow along. In an effort to avoid this common mistake, be sure to view your presentation at 50%. This will give you an idea of how legible your slides are to the audience.
8. Don’t make it too long or too short/Do schedule your webinar for no longer than 60 minutes and if you plan for 60, stay for 60
In a recent survey conducted by FTF to its readership in regards to online learning, we found that 50-60 minutes is the maximum amount of time that people like to listen to an online presentation at one time. On the flip side, if you schedule a webinar for 60 minutes and only run for 30 minutes, it can come off to your attendees that you were not prepared and are not knowledgeable enough on the topic to fill-up the allotted time.
7. Don’t just have your webinar any day of the week/Do take into consideration what days and times are most preferable to your audience
Depending on your initiatives, timing can be varied. Take into consideration where the audience you are trying to reach is located and plan accordingly. Again referring to our recent survey, the most preferable days to hold an event are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. as the most popular time slot.
6. Don’t rush it/Do leave enough time to properly plan for your webinar
When you have a good idea and are excited about a new endeavor, there is often a sense of urgency to do everything yesterday. If you are not properly prepared for your webinar, however, it could have a negative outcome not only on your lead generation but also on your overall company image. A 5-6 week lead time is recommended to effectively align your messaging, agenda and speakers with enough time to promote your event and get a sizable, qualified audience.
5. Don’t go in blinded about your audience/Do take every opportunity to qualify your attendees
Hosting a webinar that is open to the public means anyone can register whether you consider them a potential lead or not. There are ways however, to qualify the audience. The first opportunity is on your registration page. Use this process to ask registrants 1-2 additional questions such as “What is your biggest challenge” or “Do you have any questions for our experts before this webinar”. Polling questions during the call is another great way to qualify attendees while also adding an interactive element to your presentation.
4. Don’t come unprepared/Do practice, practice, practice
Coordination is key. Be sure to schedule a call with all of your presenters to run through how to use the webinar technology and review other best practices. This is not something you want to be doing 30 minutes before the call on the actual day of the event. That time should be used for any last minute questions or quick refreshers. Additionally, be sure to do a practice run through of your presentation prior to the call and this means out loud. Don’t worry that your colleagues will think you’ve totally lost your mind – they probably already do. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation on the live-call where your presentation is significantly under or over your allotted time. You also don’t want to come off as if you are reading from a script. The more relaxed you are and the more conversational you are, the more the audience is likely to hear what you are saying and remain engaged.
3. Don’t forget about promotion/Do partner-up with a company that can help you invite target qualified leads.
You’ve taken all this time to think about the date, the time, your messaging, your speakers, your presentation and your lead time, but don’t forget about promoting your event! While promotion through social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will support additional traffic, consider hiring a company that specializes in your field to handle direct marketing efforts. It’s worth the added cost to get the audience you are after both in quantity and quality. One deal can pay for this cost multiple times over.
2. Don’t have only one, monotone speaker/Do use knowledgeable, upbeat, energetic and interactive presenters
When selecting your speakers, you want to choose not only your most knowledgeable experts but also your strongest public speakers. This includes people that speak loudly and clearly are naturally energetic and upbeat and are able to have fun with it. Additionally, using a variety of speakers can help keep your audience engaged. For a 60 minute presentation, you should have no more and no less than three speakers. Selecting the right speakers can determine whether or not people stay for the duration of your event.
And finally, (drum roll please), the number one Do and Don’t rule for hosting a successful webinar
1. DON’T SELL/Do present yourselves as industry thought leaders and problem solvers
First and foremost, do not use this as an opportunity for a product pitch. Your audience does not care how great you think your product is or what it looks like or how it’s used. They have chosen to take an hour out of their day to listen to your presentation because they want to hear how you are going to help them fix their problems. Use this opportunity to position yourselves as thought leaders and problem solvers so that potential customers come to YOU first and not your competitors. Show your attendees that you aren’t just doing a webinar because you are looking to win their business. Show off how smart you all are.
Now that you are armed with the knowledge, go forth and plan!