Webinar best practice #2: Top tips on how to start a successful webinar

Back in November 2009 I wrote about the planning necessary for a successful webinar and suggested that one of the most important thing to do before a webinar is to test and test again – the software, your equipment and the speakers’ equipment. If possible all attendees equipment should be tested. Many webinar sites have a way for participants to test their setup.

It’s something I endorse again this week after a week of rehearsals for the next webinar for the ELESIG community at elesig.ning.com which will take place in Elluminate.

This time I’d like to emphasise how to start a webinar. Gettign the right ambience and tone at the start can make the rest of the webinar much easier to manage. Make sure everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.

  • Host and speakers should join early
  • It can help to play music for 15 mins prior to start – to allow users to set their volume level and/or have a countdown timer so people can see they are in the right place
  • Have a welcome message set up on the whiteboard
  • Ensure the technology is working correctly and everything is prepared such as videos and presentations (a presentation can take an unexpectedly LONG time to load).

Establish the format and framework of the webinar in advance.

  • Keep it as short as possible
  • Don’t try to fit too much in (such as too many activities or slides) – a rule of thumb is that you will get through about half of the activities you would in a face to face event
  • Interact with attendees, such as polls, chat etc. – if it’s just a lecture it could be a webcast
  • Allow arrival time at the beginning and have some kind of introductory activity to keep early arrivals busy while they wait for the latecomers.
  • If the webinar is being recorded remind everyone that this is happening

If you have a successful format for a webinar, then repeat it and refine it!