A webinar is an effective way to communicate with your customers. Digital seminars have become increasingly popular lately. What is a webinar? How do you get started?
Webinars are becoming increasingly popular. But what is webinar, really? And how does a webinar compare to a video conference? What good does a webinar do?
If you have ever asked any of the before mentioned questions, you have arrived at the right place. We will answer the question “What is a webinar?” and anything else you might want to know. It is neither time demanding nor difficult! After reading this you will be able to host your own webinar.
The term is composed of “web” and “seminar”. In other words, it is a digital seminar. A webinar can be explained as lectures, conversations or workshops online.
A webinar is usually conveyed live via video. The streaming happens through a video conferencing application (Zoom, Skype, Teams) or a video-sharing platform (YouTube). One can also record and upload the webinar recording afterwards, but that means you will miss out on the unique interactivity.
A webinar gives the opportunity for direct contact, both between the speaker and the audience, but also between the participants. This can be achieved through chat functions, voting polls, or virtual hand raises. The participants can ask questions during or after the webinar, via chat or through their own microphone.
In any case, this is an effective way to communicate with customers, potential customers, website visitors, or other interested parties. A webinar is an excellent tool for creating leads – more on this in “What do you gain from webinars?”.
You can also host internal webinars for employees instead of seminars. The interactive aspect opens an opportunity for collaboration in a higher degree than regular video conferences. This article is aimed at businesses that would like to host webinars for new or existing customers, though the insight will also apply for intracompany use.
It does not have to be difficult or expensive. A webinar can include everything a regular seminar includes: lectures, conversations, debates, workshops and so much more. You decide what to include.
You also decide whether it will be simple or advanced. A simple alternative can be carried out with just one person and a laptop. You can speak to customers and other interested parties about what you offer, about a topic related to the business, a new project, or about the company’s history.
You can also make it more advanced. You can invite guests to a panel discussion or a debate. You can stream this so that customers and other interested parties can watch it live. It demands a bit more from you – but you also gain so much from it!
We have now answered the question “What is a webinar?”, but what can you actually gain from a webinar? Where should you host it? Continue reading to have these questions answered.
It is not without reason that webinars have shot ahead during the pandemic. With quarantines, furloughs, home offices, and social distancing this has become a sure winner. For many businesses, this has become the only option to stay in touch with their customers.
The society is gradually reopening, but webinars are still just as relevant. You have the opportunity to reach even more people than with regular seminars. In addition, you don’t have to consider the number of seats, and the size of a venue with this approach. By posting a recording of the webinar, it can engage for a long time after the event itself is finished.
There are many good reasons to host a webinar. A lot of people use it to reach a large audience. For a business this can involve meeting existing customers, or newly acquired customers. For an organization it is about their message having a wider reach.
Webinars are as mentioned an excellent tool to create leads. This term refers to individuals who have shown interest in your business. They tend to have left their contact information or have taken direct contact. Leads are individuals at the start of the buying process and are potential customers.
Webinars are excellent for creating leads because:
In practical terms, this means that you can utilize webinars to approach individuals who have already shown interest. You can also use the information in the registration form to contact these people at a later point in time. For example, you can send an e-mail with more information, encourage them to read more on your websites, or sell the product or service that your company offers.
This is a golden opportunity to show a new side of the company. The customers can get to know the people behind the product, service, or message. You can also show engagement by getting involved in topics that is of interest to your target group. All of this will strengthen the brand.
If you choose to invite experts in an area, you can “borrow” some of their authority. Being associated with experts is always a good thing. It’s a win-win situation if your company or any employee can be viewed as an expert on the same topic. This will also strengthen the brand.
As mentioned, you decide how advanced you want to do it. It is fully possible to stream through Facebook and YouTube on your mobile phone. In that case, you need to be somewhat spontaneous, and depend on a topic that can be carried out spontaneously.
Other types of arrangements cannot be done on a whim. To ensure an audience, you should plan well in advance. You should also acquire equipment for webinars that fits with your goal.
What type of equipment is most important for a webinar? You will find a list below.
A camera is important when hosting a webinar. The type of camera depends on what you will be doing.
You can talk about a topic in front of a laptop. Video conferencing allows you to share your screen, and you can hold a presentation. Usually, the participants will see a small squared frame with you speaking. In this case, a laptop camera might suffice.
If you rather want the person to be in focus, you may have to consider a better camera. A good recording of a webinar also demands a good camera. You will find that there are plenty of options depending on need.
BRIO 4K: Stream Edition
This camera costs NOK 2,595, and may be expensive, but has impeccable quality. Here you can stream anything from 720p to 4K without chopping. The camera has 13 megapixels, autofocus and 5x digital zoom in full HD. Logitech BRIO 4K is the perfect equipment for webinars.
In TechRadar's test, Logitech StreamCam to the top. The resolution is not over 1080p, but it also costs NOK 1,000 less than BRIO. The camera has autofocus, smart exposure and a frame rate of 60 fps. It also uses USB C, which transfers video faster.
Microsoft LifeCam Studio
På sjetteplass i TechRadar-testen finner vi Microsoft LifeCam Studio. Det kalles et “proffkamera for de profesjonelle”. Dette har blant annet en mikrofon med krystallklar lyd, og mulighet til å rotere kameraet 360 grader. Tross dette finner du det til bare NOK 879 at CDON.
Trust Trino HD
This camera you get for NOK 299 - that is much cheaper than BRIO for NOK 2,595. Admittedly, it only delivers resolution in 720p. Then it may actually be that the mobile or laptop has better quality.
Turn your mobile into a webcam!
Are you unsure if you want to invest in your own camera? Then you can try apps that turn your phone into a webcam. As a rule, you will then be able to stream in 1080p - something many webcams can not. Read more about how the Tek.no.
Several cameras have built-in microphones. If you do not wish to invest more in equipment for webinars, or you are satisfied with the microphone in the camera, you do not need to obtain a separate microphone. However, if you are hosting a webinar where several people are speaking, this might be a good idea.
Using a fast Internet connection is Alfa and Omega when it comes to streaming. In this instance it might be wise to not use Wi-Fi, but rather connect with a cable. The connection is more secure and stable than using a wireless connection. Make sure to check if your connection can handle the number of expected participants.
Livestorm, a webinar program, requires a minimum 5 Mb/s for both up- and downloads. This applies to the organizer. They recommend 15 Mb/s for optimal results. Participants are recommended to have 5 Mb/s.
It could be a good idea to host the webinar outside working hours to ensure not too many are connected at the same time. This can make the connection slower and less steady. Try doinga test to check the speed of your internet to see if it’s within the recommended range.
The market and the interest in video conferences has bloomed during the pandemic. Zoom was an early favorite, but Microsoft Teams will also be recognized by many. In addition, you can stream through video-sharing platforms like YouTube.
Software isn’t as tangible as a camera, but still has to be considered as an important part of webinars. What option should you pick?
An important reason that Zoom became so popular is due to how easy it is to use. You only need to send a link to the people who have signed up, and you are on. The participants are not even required to be logged into Zoom.
The only problem might actually be the fact that it is so easy. You can host a webinar over Zoom, but with the free version you can only have 100 participants, and the duration is a maximum of 40 minutes.
Zoom does have a paid version too. With it you can pick a webinar package, where you are allowed more participants and host a longer webinar. In addition, you get access to useful webinar functions like voting polls, chats, virtual hand raises, and more.
Teams is more about collaboration within a company than to reach out to others. Despite this, you can hold a video conference with 250 participants, more than the free version of Zoom. You can also integrate Zoom into Teams as an app – if you would prefer to do so.
With this easy solution you can host a regular live webinar, upload content beforehand which you then present live, or host an automatic webinar. In other words, you get to decide how “live” you want it to be. The software gives you access to how the presentation was received – for you to analyze afterwards.
Everyone knows YouTube. The platform is being used to not just upload videos, but also for streaming. In the upper right corner, you can press a camera widget and then “Go live”. The content you shared live can also be made accessible on the company’s YouTube channel.
With video-sharing platforms like YouTube the webinar will not be as interactive. The viewers can use a chat on the sidebar of the video, but it is not as easy to keep track of the communication. You cannot offer polls, questions and such. Sharing your screen with your audience is not an option either.
Video conference or video-sharing platform?
If you compare Zoom and YouTube, as an example, you will find a lot of differences between video conferencing programs and video-sharing platforms. A lot of webinars will work with YouTube, but they will not be as interactive. Think through what type of webinar you want to host.
Websites or social media is not as tangible as a camera either, At the same time this is also an important aspect in terms of webinars. This is where you promote your webinar.
Remember to include important information, like the date and time. You can also add the link for the registration form, giving you a chance to contact interested leads afterwards.
As mentioned, it is entirely up to you to decide how advanced it will be. Not everyone will have a need for the same type of equipment. For now, you have everything you need to get started with a webinar. The only thing missing is a venue.
Venues can be a great concern for regular seminars. Should we hire a venue? Does it cost much to hire a venue? Should it be big or small?
The size of the venue does not matter when hosting a webinar. The participants are usually in their homes. At the same time, it needs to be fitting. So, what do you need to consider?
You should try to avoid places where the one speaking could be distracted or interrupted. You should also avoid places with background noises, as it might distract your viewers.
In other words, you do not need to pick a place with a neutral background. It can seem monotonous if there are no other visual tools. But avoid anything that might be taking the focus away from the speaker.
A lot of people will prefer to host their webinar in a sort of chambre séparée – meaning a separate room. If the company has a meeting room that is not being used, it would work well for avoiding distractions. In addition, you will prevent problems related to noise and light.
It is of outmost importance that there is no background noise affecting your sound. The participants should not only see you, but also hear what you are saying.
As mentioned, you might not need a separate microphone. A lot of cameras have a built-in microphone that work well enough. You still need to make sure that the venue is suited for your microphone. Consider the optimal distance from the camera to ensure a good quality of both sound and picture.
If you prefer standing farther from the camera it might affect the sound unless you have a separate microphone. This also goes for background noises, as few things disrupt a webinar as much as problems with the sound.
It’s also important to pick a location where the natural light is suitable, or by using external lights. Do not forget how important it is with good lighting. Both weak and intense lighting can ruin the experience.
It is also important that the technical parts are functioning well at the location. This includes everything from lighting, microphone, camera, software, and of course internet connection. As mentioned before, the internet needs to be fast enough for streaming.
Some might prefer to rent a venue. By renting a venue you avoid the stress of getting the equipment needed for a webinar, same goes for the practical and technical parts. You don’t necessarily need to rent a venue in the center of Oslo – the webinar can be hosted anywhere.
Not all webinars are streamed live. You can also publish recordings of a webinar. A recording will give you more control. What are the pros and cons with streaming vs recording of a webinar?
Both have positive and negative sides to them. Streaming is attractive because it’s happening in the present moment. But it demands more from you in terms of planning – more on this under “Planning”.
If you choose to post a recording of the webinar, you can edit it to your liking. This can improve the quality, but it will mean you have to spend a lot of time and energy on the editing.
If you choose to not stream, you will also lose the opportunity to interact with your viewers directly through questions and such – a unique trait webinars offer.
At the same time, a recording will have a much longer duration. It can engage customers, potential customers, and other interested parties long after the recording. Everyday life can be hectic, and many will enjoy the option of tuning in when it suits them better.
In other words, there are many benefits of both streaming and recording a webinar. Luckily, you don’t have to pick just one. Video conferencing software like Zoom allows you to record as you go, and video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube, allows you to upload those live recordings afterwards. You get the best of both worlds.
You can also edit a recording afterwards. You might want a short version? Or split it into sections? Editing a recording requires software.
There are good alternatives that are free. iMovie can be used for editing recordings, but it does not offer as many functions as, for example, Adobe Premiere Pro. You will be able to do a lot with free programs, but with programs like iMovie, subtitles are tricky to get right. Consider what your needs are.
You can also use editing as a way to get previews of your recording. These can be used to promote the next webinar you will host. Short video clips are effective on social media. Try to add subtitles – many people keep their phones on mute as they scroll down their Facebook feed.
It’s rarely a good idea to improvise. A good webinar requires good planning, but it does not have to take a lot of your time. What do you need to prepare for? Continue reading to get tips on the most important aspects of planning.
You need to set a goal, and let this goal lead your planning process. What do you wish to achieve with the webinar? What does the participants wish to achieve? These two goals are not necessarily the same.
This is what’s called a conversion; when a person completes a desired action. A conversion can be anything from purchasing a service, to signing up for the next seminar. This is what the goal of the business is.
The goal will guide the topic and format. If you want more customers for you web design company, then it will not benefit you to host a course on a completely different subject.
Also remember that the participants might have a different goal than yours. They might be looking for information on a topic or want to learn something. Try planning for both conversion and to create value for the participants. This will also affect the topic.
Goals and topics are closely linked together, but they do not have to be exactly the same. You will find many companies doing podcasts on topics related to their business, without necessarily promoting their own services.
Say your company does web design. A webinar on web design will be relevant for your clients, potential clients, and other interested parties. Your goal might be to acquire new clients or to improve the relationship you have with existing clients, but the topic might be “10 tips for improving the efficiency of your website.”
Towards the end you might encourage to seek guidance from your business, and perhaps offer the participants an exclusive deal. In other words, you have hosted a webinar that is beneficial for both you and the participants.
The goal and topic will have an impact on the rest of the webinar. You have to decide on a format and visual profile that fits with the goal and the topic. This is when you decide if you want to do a presentation, or just speak to the camera.
During this phase you also decide who and how many will be speaking. Do you need to invite someone for a panel discussion? Or could you present a topic alone, or with someone from the company?
After planning the format, you need to structure the webinar. The audience need to know what it is about, and how it will be. A sort of table of contents is needed – either presented on a slide or by you informing the viewers.
A manuscript, keywords, or similar could be a good idea. Others prefer to speak freely. If you choose to present the content on slides, it is important that there isn’t too much text on each slide, and that you utilize visual aids actively. By any means, avoid static reading of the text on the slides.
As mentioned, it is important to promote your business on social media and on the website. Create a Facebook event with important information, such as topic, content, date, time, and with a link to the registration form. You can also make a post with the same information and post in on various social media sites.
A Facebook event will give the participants reminders about the date getting closer. Furthermore, send a link to everyone who have signed up a few weeks in advance, and then again on the day of – just in case someone forgot about the event.
Also try to contact relevant websites and groups who might help you by either sharing the Facebook event, or by sharing the information about the event on their website, magazine or newspaper.
Do as planned. Make sure to stay within your scheduled time. Remember to press record – if you’re using a solution that allows you to. Good luck!
After the webinar you can contact leads. You can either encourage them to use the services that your business offers, guide them to where they can find more information, or promote new webinars coming up. Maybe you would like to create a series of webinars about the same topic?
We have been through the most important items. Please feel free to read through more detailed instructions on preparations you need to go through before hosting a webinar in our article. A webinar is an effective and fun way to communicate with customers, potential customers, and other interested parties. After this introduction you should be ready to kick off your own webinar!