You’ve worked hard at putting together your webinar slides.
You’ve fine-tuned your presentation to your liking. After a few run-throughs, you’re ready to launch.
Ready, set… hold up.
Before you invite your attendees, there’s one more step to check off your list: foolproofing.
I know what you’re thinking, “What? Why bother? What could go wrong enough to need foolproofing?”
But hear me out, or rather, hear Eleanor Roosevelt out:
It’s vital to “learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
We think she had the right of it, especially when you consider how much time and energy webinars take for everyone, host and attendee alike, involved.
So, to foolproof your webinar and keep everything running as smoothly as possible before, during, and after your presentation, we’ve got five major mistakes for you to check out today, plus how to avoid them.
Let’s dive right in.
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#1. Not making your webinar interactive
The first webinar mistake to avoid is not having an interactive element to your webinar.
By leaving out interaction between you and your attendees, you miss out on leaving your mark as a brand. So much so that 88% of marketers believe interactive content is what makes them different from their competitors.
If you’re hosting a live webinar, definitely take the opportunity to ask your audience questions. Leverage your webinar platform’s chat feature, which will allow your attendees to see each other’s responses and engage in a live dialogue.
These days, live chat is the leading digital content method, with 46% of customers preferring it over email and social media, so take advantage.
Another way to engage your webinar audience is to reserve some space at the end of your webinar for a live Q&A session.
There are two advantages to this. The first is that it incentivizes your attendees to stay until the end. The second is that you’re giving your audience what they want.
After all, a hunky 92% of your attendees want a live Q&A session at the end, so skipping out on one is going to disappoint a lot of people.
You can also try asking your attendees to partake in a poll in the middle of your webinar.
For instance, let’s say you’re hosting a webinar on how to run mobile strategies, similar to Wordstream’s 5 Strategies to Help You Dominate the Mobile Marketplace webinar.
A simple poll question to ask your audience could be, “Do you have a mobile-first strategy?”
Even if it’s a simple “yes” or “no” answer, you’re still encouraging online comments and getting your attendees to quickly participate and engage with you, which makes it an easy win.
Finally, be passionate and energetic when you present your material. If you do, that’s when your attendees will feel the most engaged. That’s what 32% of attendees say.
On the topic of engaging your audience, avoiding our next mistake also helps with that.
#2. Not having a well-designed presentation
Hosting a webinar without a well-designed presentation is another dangerous webinar mistake to avoid.
If you don’t have a presentation that engages your audience, it can cost you attendees who abandon your webinar early and, ultimately (aka worse), sales.
To remedy this mistake, make sure your slides are visually appealing. When in doubt, include more images and less text.
What you don’t want to do is use your slides as a teleprompter.
The reason is your webinar attendees will retain 65% of your presentation if you use both oral and visual content, compared to retaining only 10% of your material if they rely on hearing your presentation.
So, lean on visuals and your oral presentation to impress your audience.
To beef up your oral presentation, use storytelling to convey your points. It’s a powerful way to make an impression. In fact, conveying your messages through stories is 22 times more memorable than merely rattling off facts.
Basically, if you want to engage your webinar attendees, don’t underutilize visual content and storytelling in your presentation.
OK, so that covers a couple pointers on engaging your audience. Now it’s time to walk through a logistical mistake.
#3. Not respecting your audience’s time
Another webinar mistake to avoid is not respecting your attendee’s time.
The simplest and most effective way to avoid this one is to start and end your webinar on time.
This means if you include a live Q&A at the end of your presentation, be sure to end your presentation portion early enough to squeeze it in.
After all, your attendees have carved out a chunk of their day to listen to your webinar, and if that includes the perk of a Q&A, then include it inside the designated duration of your entire webinar. Rehearse your presentation, so you know how long to allow for your Q&A.
If you’re wondering about how long your webinar should go, the average length is 39 minutes, according to BrightTALK, a webinar platform that serves some pretty big pros.
There’s even more research by GoToWebinar that found 58% of webinars are between 45 and 60 minutes, so shoot for something in that ballpark.
Regardless of your webinar time, the vital factor here is to set a timeframe and stick to it. Your audience will appreciate it and, in turn, respect you for respecting their time.
While you have your audience’s time and attention, it’s vital to not ruin with a sales pitch — which is our next fatal mistake.
#4. Pitching your audience too hard for a sale
One of the more lethal webinar mistakes is coming off as too salesy during your presentation.
This can be an easy mistake to make, given that only 17% of salespeople see themselves as pushy, while a whopping 50% of prospective customers think they’re coming on too strong.
One way to remedy this too-common disconnect is to focus on providing educational, valuable information to your audience. In other words, prioritize serving your audience and solving their problems rather than selling your solution.
If you do, your webinar content will resonate better, and you’ll come off as a leading expert, rather than a pushy salesperson, in your field.
Naturally, the sales will follow when your audience member reaches the decision part of the buyer’s journey.
So, if you’re trying to sell courses online, for example, and want to nurture your leads through your webinar, hold off on pushing for your online course offer during your webinar presentation until the end, and keep the sales push soft, if present at all.
The main takeaway is to not jump the gun and start selling your products and services during a webinar when your audience may be in the earlier stages — whether the awareness or consideration stage — of their buyer’s journey.
OK. While this webinar mistake is overly promotional, our final one is quite the opposite.
#5. Not promoting your webinar enough
Our final webinar mistake to avoid today is not sufficiently promoting your webinar, which can result in poor registration and show-up rates.
If you’re curious about how early you should start promoting your webinar, you can start as early as four weeks prior to your webinar date.
It’s worth noting, though, that 69% of your registrations are probably going to take place one week before your webinar, and 33% will happen the day of your scheduled presentation.
To promote your webinar, try promoting it at the bottom of your blog articles, like in this Constant Contact blog post.
This is especially useful if the topic of your blog article matches your webinar’s subject matter. Registrations will be a natural fit.
Another way to promote your webinar is to be crystal clear from the get-go and include informative details on your registration landing page. Check out how HubSpot clearly describes what their Future of Content Strategy: How Your Startup Can Win at SEO webinar is about.
By being explicit in your messaging, your attendees will know who exactly the webinar is for and what the benefits include. This increases the chance of your registrants being a good fit and decreases the chance of them abandoning your presentation early.
Both are wins, right?
Another effective way to promote your webinar is to leverage the power of email. It’s so powerful that an impressive 57% of webinar registrations come from email, which is more than any other channel, like social media, your site, or even a newsletter.
While email is the most effective way to promote your webinar, that’s not to say you should leave out the other channels. It’s certainly worth promoting it on social media, too.
Check out how experiential education company, General Assembly, promotes their webinar on Facebook, for example.
The point here is:
Regardless of how you decide to promote your webinar, try out various avenues to see what works best for your brand and do it often, starting from up to four weeks leading up to your webinar date.
Fortify your webinar success by avoiding these mistakes
You can avoid a lot of future troubleshooting by learning from mistakes before you make them, so to speak.
With these mistakes of other webinar presenters revealed, you don’t have to learn the hard way and can avoid them altogether.
- Mistake #1. Not presenting an interactive webinar. Avoid this one by engaging with your attendees through questions, answers, live chats, and gusto.
- Mistake #2. Not taking the time to design a top-notch presentation. Avoid this by using powerful visual and storytelling content.
- Mistake #3. Disrespecting your registrants’ time. Avoid this mistake by sticking to your set webinar timeframe.
- Mistake #4. Focusing your webinar on your sales pitch. Avoid this by providing educational and valuable information in your webinar.
- Mistake #5. Not sufficiently promoting your webinar. Avoid this by promoting your webinar early and often using email, social media, links in blog articles, and explicit messaging.
Now you’re ready to launch your webinar. Here’s to hosting one that’s a smashing success.
Guest author: Cyn Meyer is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites — alongside their creators — thrive. Check out our free 12,000+ word guide to creating profitable online courses, even if you’ve never done it before.