You just attended a webinar and came away thoroughly impressed. The entire experience from the registration page, to the look and feel of the webinar environment, to the speakers and the presentation was first class. Guess what? That didn’t just happen overnight. It took meticulous planning and preparation to deliver that experience. After years of executing countless webinars and digital events, we’ve come to the conclusion that the ideal webinar project plan should consist of six weeks. Here’s what each week should entail, along with what you should do the day of the event to ensure webinar success.
6 Weeks Out
- Define who the audience is. Is it for net new prospects? Existing leads and opportunities that you’re looking to move down the funnel? Is it for existing customers where you’re looking to educate and upsell? Defining this will dictate what kind of webinar you’re going to have in terms of what will be presented and how. For example, a broader webinar to establish subject matter expertise might make more sense for net new prospects, while a case study and ROI driven webinar could make more sense for existing opportunities that you’re looking to close. It’s very important to match the content with the audience. Make it relevant.
- One you know who the audience is and the type of webinar you’ll be delivering, now is the time to begin working on topics, webinar descriptions, and the information you want to get from your registrants. When thinking about topics, make sure they’re not overly long. Shorter topics that let your audience know they’re going to learn something tend to work best. We’ve found that using numbers and “How to” in webinar titles really resonates with folks because they know they’re going to be educated more than being sold to.
- Determine who your speakers are. Look for presenters that have experience, are dynamic, and will keep your audience engaged. Your presenters can make all the different in the world, so choose wisely.
- Lay out your promotional plan and cadence. Be sure to use a multi-pronged approach to get in front of your audience and drive registrations – email, social, outbound calling, digital ads, SEO, press releases, premium placement on your website,, leveraging partners to help spread the word. Everything is on the table and now is when you want to get your promotional mix solidified.
5 Weeks Out:
- Now that your webinar topic and description are defined, it’s time to build your webinar registration page. You need to have the ability to optimize your registration page and build one that is on brand and has a clear call to action. Include your logo and color scheme, custom banners, multimedia, presenter pics and bios. Be sure visitors to this page can save it to multiple calendar types and have the ability to test their system to ensure they’re properly setup to view your webinar. In terms of registration fields, get the information you absolutely need. It’s been proven that too many fields can turn off potential registrants. We’ve found that 5-7 is the sweet spot and asking a question during the registration process is always a good idea. It will give you a better sense of who they are, challenges they’re faced with, initiatives they have, etc. There are a lot of boring registration pages out there, so stand out from the crowd and make yours engaging.
- Determine if you’re webinar is going to be 100% live or what we call simulive. A simulive webinar is one that is pre-recorded and then broadcast as a ‘live’ event with certain live elements like Q&A, polling, etc. Live vs. simulive is another blog for another day!
4 Weeks Out:
- Begin the promotional engine with an initial email blast to your targeted audience. We’re bullish on four weeks of promotions to drive an optimal audience. Remember, leverage a multi-pronged approach.
- Get your presenters together for a brainstorming session to discuss the flow of the webinar. The topic and description are already defined, obviously, but now is the time to begin thinking about how the discussion will flow. Along those lines, you’ll notice I used the word “discussion.” Webinars should be collaborative, engaging discussions that make your attendees want to engage. Make it relevant, lively, and energetic. If you make it boring, your audience will think you are boring and nobody wants that.
3 Weeks Out:
- Not that you’re starting to get some registrants, how are you going to engage with them from now until the live webinar date? Provide them with relevant content leading up to the webinar as a way to nurture them and keep them engaged. Doing this will Improve your registration to attendee ratios as well.
- Now that your presenters have brainstormed on the flow of the webinar discussion, now is the time to start building your PPT deck. Stay away from death by PPT, which is a real thing. Too many slides that are overly complicated can lose an audience. Your slides should be a foundational element that act as a jumping off point. They should not tell the whole story. We always tell our customers that their slides should be constructed as such that they provide little value to the audience by themselves. To understand your slides, people have to attend and hear you talk against them. Finally, stay away from overly animated slides. They often serve little purpose other than providing your attendees with strained eyes and a headache. Less is more here.
2 Weeks Out:
- This is when your initial dry run should take place. If you’re dealing with really experienced, seasoned webinar professionals, it may only take one dry run. With that said, we always recommend two dry runs to give everyone peace of mind that they’re going to nail the presentation. Dry runs don’t have to be exactly like it’s going to go the day of the event, but they do need to cover responsibilities, key talking points, and how the webinar is going to be delivered overall.
- During the dry run, you want to ensure your presenters are technically sound from an A/V perspective. Make sure their speakers and microphones are optimal and that their audio is clear and crisp. If they’re going to be on camera, their video needs to be high quality and not grainy. Additionally, if they’re going to be on camera be sure the room they’re in provides good lighting and they are clearly visible with no distractions. If your webinar platform has background options for your speakers, now would be a good time to test this out. I personally like a real, professional looking background if it’s available.
- Define the engagement tactics you’re going to use during the webinar such as live Q&A, polling, surveys, resource/content downloads, attendee chat, social feeds, etc. If your platform has the ability to go into breakout rooms after the webinar for a deeper dive discussion, that’s another thing to consider.
- Finalize how the webinar user interface (UI) will look. You want your attendees to enter your webinar environment and be wowed. Like your registration page, the webinar UI should be on brand and look like it’s your event. Ensure you’re using a webinar platform that enables you to customize your UI several different ways.
- In addition to all the other promotions you have going, now is a good time to send your 2nd dedicated email blast to your targeted audience,
1 Week Out:
- At this point, your presentation and slide deck should be finalized. It’s understandable if you still have a few edits to make on your PPT, but it should be mostly complete at this stage.
- A second dry run, if necessary, should be executed the week before the webinar to be extra sure everybody is comfortable with the webinar presentation and their setup for the event.
- Your first reminder email should be sent to your existing registrants, reminding them about the webinar date/time and their login details.
- In addition to all your other promotions, now is a good time to send your third dedicated email blast to your target audience.
Week of and Live Day:
- Make sure your slide deck is final two days before the webinar. No last minute, live day changes if it can be avoided!
- If your presenters want to have one last discussion to tie up any loose ends, have them do it a day or two before.
- If your registration numbers are lagging, sending one more email blast 1-2 days before to get some last minute registrants is always a good idea.
- The day of the event, send a 2nd reminder email to all existing registrants a few hours before the webinar. This will keep your event top of mind and help improve your registration to attendee ratio.
- If your webinar is going to be 100% live, make sure your presenters login to the platform 30 minutes before the webinar starts. Logging in early enables you to do last minute system tests and performance checks, and it reinforces how everything will be handled if a presenter loses connection or is disrupted somehow. It’s technology and anything can happen, so always be testing and have troubleshooting plans in place for worst case scenarios. You’ll be thankful you did.
- You’re live. Knock it out of the park, engage your attendees, and give your audience multiple reasons to keep coming back for more webinars down the road.
As we all know, with webinars it’s more about just planning for the live date. You can substantially extend the shelf-life and value of your webinars through a well thought out on-demand plan. Be on the lookout for a blog in the coming weeks that will provide you with a roadmap for on-demand webinar success.
Jason Stegent is the Founder & President of Elastic Solutions. Email him @ email@example.com