Lessons Learned Running Our First Webinar
Have you ever gone out on a limb very publicly? It’s not a fun prospect, depending on how things turn out.
And have you even had a financial investment riding on it? Okay, add some stress to that going out on a limb thing.
Annnnnnnd was the future of your business potentially riding on it? Well, that’s where we’ve been operating lately.
We’re a book publishing company, but we’ve been doing some heavy investing in technology lately. The first of these investments was unveiled with the DogCon5 Pre-Party yesterday.
Did you miss the DogCon5 Pre-Party online event? No worries, it was thrown together as a last minute test of our broadcasting system. I mean, very last minute. Like, thrown together about 12 hours in advance.
That didn’t give the event much chance to succeed from a promotional standpoint, but as a test it was an insane success. On top of that the feedback suggests people had a great time! On our end we were worried it was a disaster.
If you ever plan to do something similar–either an online training, a webinar, a dramatic presentation, Q & A session, or whatever–you can save yourself a little pain and suffering by checking out these impressions we collected the day after.
#1 Just do it. I tend to overthink everything, but even though we avoided a lot of potential problems by carefully researching how to execute a webinar, nothing lays all the possible problems bare like actual experience. And, by default, lays bare all the solutions.
#2 Having professional lighting and professional audio is great. Beyond just the cost and the technical specifications, it’s worth remembering each requires time allotted for setup. Unfortunately, the camera setup didn’t work out, forcing us to rely on the built-in laptop camera…so, maybe the pro lighting didn’t really come through. Next time, maybe.
#3 People are cool, especially when you get the right people. We didn’t have any affiliates or joint venture partners, no advertising or email blasts, just a couple mentions on our social media accounts late Saturday night, and early Sunday morning–a.k.a. the social media dead zone. Still we got 14 registrants with 100% attendance, which is unheard of, so clearly if you advertise at the last minute you are only going to get people who are serious about joining the webinar.
#4 Have a moderator to monitor chat. Yes, that’s what all the advice says: “Have 1 to 3 assistants moderating your webinar, paid at $100 to $150 if you’re expecting high traffic.” WORTH THE MONEY. Especially when you’re dealing with tech weirdness on the fly.
#5 Tech weirdness: if you’re presenting a slideshow with PowerPoint, you should be a person who has actually used PowerPoint before. Now that the DogCon5 Pre-Pary is done I can honestly say I have used PowerPoint! Once. The slideshow was prepared by our in-house graphics whiz. Issues with getting the second webinar presenter into the room forced us to start 5 minutes late; thankfully our crowd was dedicated enough to sit around waiting on us to show up.
#6 Starting late causes stress. Stress causes you to forget your plan. Forgetting your plan leads to hate. Hate leads to fear. Fear leads to The Darkside. Then you wake up in a black bodysuit breathing reeeeeeeeeally heavy. Solution: have an outline. And practice.
#7 Take it easy. Have a sense of humor about yourself, your subject, and how things will turn out. I was just making up things off the top of my head as I saw the slides I was presenting, and while I didn’t 100% have the “high-energy” the webinar experts recommend I kept things light despite the stress, The Darkside, and the ten tons of tech difficulties we had to resolve in the weeks leading up to this presentation.
#8 Yes, as I mentioned, there are a multitude of technologies we’re investing in for our business ventures, and working toward the rewards they offer has been a minefield. Not to mention the tech difficulties experienced as the webinar was about to launch. BUT…when you are in the room live with your registrants you are a performer, like an actor on stage, or a musician in concert. Nothing else exists; the only past is found in the details of your product, service, or whatever else your presentation entails. Guess what? Being there in the moment with everybody is fun!
#9 In turn, focusing on what was going right instead of what was going wrong allowed us to flex our legs and try out most of the extra features our webinar platform offers. It turns out the platform rocks. Hard. Use all the bells and whistles, or else what are you paying for? People love bells and whistles.
#10 I had wanted to offer “party favors” in the form of a free download, but our time frame didn’t allow for a quality download to be generated prior to going live. I tried to give value regardless, and pitched our next live “jam session” in which we’ll be detailing free of charge the number 1 problem people come to us with: how to get book reviews. That event absolutely will have downloads–yes, plural–and I recommend you do the same when design your own webinar. I’m certain we could have attained a higher registration rate, even among the limited number of people exposed to our message, if we’d had a free offering. The experts always say so, and I’m download-crazy myself when I register for other webinars myself.
#11 If you have other tech integrations you’re linking to…such as, say, a brand new shopping cart system…make sure that sucker works before you go live! One of our offers went to a shopping page without functional payment processing. My shame is eternal.
#12 Speaking of shame, uh, try to have an ending. Like, an actual wrap up. With some finality. Or, you can just sorta stop. Not something I’ll be trying again, but you can just stop if you want. Also, if you have to stall for time so your co-presenter can enable those aforementioned bells and whistles, have some extra content planned in advance. Or, you can follow my example and babble intermittently.
Thanks for sticking it out this far with me. It’s likely the above list was for me, more than it was for you. Just to make sure I remember it’s a good idea to recap:
- Just do it.
- Pro level equipment is only as good as the time you invest in learning how to use it.
- A targeted audience is your best audience.
- Have a moderator.
- There will be tech problems, so familiarize yourself with the tech.
- And have an outline.
- Keep it light (don’t be a bummer).
- Focus on what’s happening right now.
- Give something away.
- Make sure everything works on the other side of those links you are directing people to.
- Have a recap, like this one, followed by a wrap-up. It’s called an ending.
To make these lessons stick you can watch the DogCon5 Pre-Party to see exactly what I’m talking about. Just register at https://app.webinarjam.net/register/30519/1ae6094adf and you will have several options for replay times. Occasionally one of us will be live in the webinar chat to answer questions, or you can just use the button to email us questions and comments. Hope to see you there!