Whether you’re a large business, institution or single entity, establishing yourself as a leader in your field means being your authentic self and making your voice heard, and the best way to do that is through a webinar.
Webinars have become an increasingly popular way of efficiently communicating ideas over the last two decades, and now especially due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you’re a growing business or influencer, it’s a safe bet that you’re already hosting online sessions with customers or your target audience or will be exploring webinars in the near future. Luckily, with Lifesize, webinars are easy to organize, share and participate in, either as a guest presenter or attendee.
But before we share how you can seamlessly create your webinar using Lifesize, let’s first discuss what makes for a great webinar and how to ensure your session exceeds both your expectations and those of your audience.
What Is a Webinar?
Simply put, a webinar, short for web-seminar or web-based seminar, is a type of web conference – an online seminar/event wherein the host presents a particular topic and participants from around the globe can interact with the presenter in real-time.
Depending on the restrictions put in place by the host, the participants (such as an expert panel) can also share their audio, screen, and documents with other attendees – thus making for an engaging and collaborative virtual discussion.
From a business perspective, webinars allow your company to foster relationships with customers, partners or prospects, are a way to build authority around your brand and are a proven strategy for generating new business leads. In fact, recent studies suggest that 20-to-40% of webinar attendees turn into qualified leads, and 73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders say a webinar is the best way to generate quality leads.
When are webinars used and why are they useful?
Webinars are most commonly used for informational or educational purposes, often as a way to showcase new products or research. But, they are also an accessible format for company-wide internal presentation or even as a way to host a training workshop with a broad audience. Let’s take a look at five different types of webinars.
New product introductions are effective and impactful opportunities to re-engage customers and explain the value of a new offering. Yet, due to the current pandemic, it’s not feasible for most businesses to host physical product launch events, which historically helped generate initial traction and visibility for their new product.
An excellent and less costly alternative to an in-person launch event is to host a live webinar. With an online event like a webinar, you can still provide a live demonstration of your new product and showcase its value effectively, without having to rent a venue and pay for catering.
Webinars are a great educational tool to add value to your target audience by presenting relevant insider information about the industry and can even be used to provide support to customers who have bought your products (and thus increase customer satisfaction).
Plus, after a webinar is over, the video content you produce can be leveraged for other marketing material and repurposed into different formats. For example, a 60-minute webinar presentation can be repackaged into ten short video clips for your brand’s YouTube channel and social media, or into a written blog post that can help with your site’s search engine rankings.
Webinars are useful not just as a marketing and lead-generation tool but also for improving processes within your company. That is, you can create on-demand webinars for internal training purposes, or to host workshops and ‘lunch and learn’ presentations that bring team members together, even when working remotely.
Virtual conventions and gatherings
Hosting frequent webinars is an amazing way to bolster the sense of camaraderie amongst your remote teams. Teams can take turns hosting webinars to educate other departments about new projects and to share their subject matter expertise. The webinar can even be a non-work-related gathering – such as a virtual happy hour, which helps with team bonding. This is especially useful today (and in the foreseeable future of workplaces) when having a physical company-wide convention or even a simple team meeting is not feasible.
Customer Q&A sessions and advisory panels
Webinars can also be used for hosting Q&A sessions with your customers and partners so they have a chance to learn more about your products, company, or resolve any issues they’re facing. These monthly or quarterly webinars are also a great way to solicit feedback and identify areas for improvement based on customer and partner feedback.
The 3 Main Factors of a Webinar
Any webinar usually comprises three main stakeholders – the host, the participants, and the attendees. Let’s take a quick look at the role of each and how these play into your live event.
1. The host
For most webinars, there will be a single host responsible for making all the arrangements and ensuring everything goes smoothly. The hosting party running the webinar experience can be a person, team or company, but one primary individual will host the webinar.
2. The participants
Essentially, participants are the people that will be included in the webinar presentation, such as experts on a panel. These individuals should all have a defined and active role in the webinar proceedings based on the meeting agenda and goals of the discussion. Think of it as an online meeting, but with a large audience watching.
3. The attendees
Attendees are where webinars differ from video conferencing. Attendees simply watch the webinar and may comment, ask questions online or respond to the webinar, but they do not directly host, share, or interact with the webinar.
How to use Lifesize as your webinar platform in 5 steps
Creating a webinar may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually relatively easy if you have a webinar solution and the right tools. With Lifesize, creating a webinar takes only a couple of minutes.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of hosting a webinar with Lifesize.
Step 1: Sign in to Lifesize
Once you create your Lifesize account, you can immediately host or join meetings from any device and collaborate with meeting participants from anywhere
Step 2: Create a video meeting for webinar participants
Once signed in, click the “Meetings” tab, then select “Create a Meeting.” Next, enter the name of the webinar, choose the moderator (aka host), and create a numeric passcode to ensure only invited people can join.
Step 3: Share the link with webinar participants
Copy the new webinar link and share it with everyone who will be participating via email or any calendar application of your choice. Note, this is the link for those that will be presenting or speaking on the webinar, not webinar attendees (that’s what we’ll do next).
Step 4: Create a webinar link for attendees
Now, it’s time to create a link to allow webinar attendees to watch (not join) our presentation in real-time. To do this, you’ll first need to visit the Lifesize Admin Console (manage.lifesize.com). Once there, select the Meetings tab, then search for the name of your newly created webinar and select it.
Within the meeting settings menu, select Streaming, then Enable Live Streaming. You’ll now have the option to either enable or disable audience questions for your webinar. Choose whichever you prefer, then click save.
Step 5: Promote your webinar link to the masses
Great news – you’re now ready to start promoting your webinar. From the Edit Meeting Details menu, the newly created Streaming Link is what you’ll use in your marketing materials.
5 Tips for Your Next Big Webinar
Even with the right webinar software and preparation, hosting a webinar isn’t always a piece of cake, especially if you’re hosting one for the first time. To point you in the right direction, here are five quick and actionable tips to keep in mind when organizing your next big webinar.
1. Keep attendee capacity high
You never know for sure as to how many people will attend your webinar, so make sure there’s enough digital space for everyone by keeping the maximum attendee capacity high. Luckily, with Lifesize, you can effortlessly support up to 10,000 concurrent webinar attendees.
2. Secure with a password when needed
If you’re monetizing your webinar or hosting one for internal company purposes, make sure to secure it with a passcode so people who didn’t sign up can’t jump in unannounced.
3. Use clear visuals
It’s crucial to ensure that whatever you’re presenting is visually appealing. Use memorable GIFs, images, or short videos in your slides to better explain what you’re talking about and capture the attention of your audience.
Visuals are especially useful when presenting a technical topic, such as a webinar on blockchain technology or big data analytics software. To iterate statistics, use data visualizations like pie charts and bar graphs instead of creating simple bulleted lists.
4. Interact with your audience
Interacting with your audience during the session is essential. Otherwise, they may soon get bored or distracted.
Webinar hosts should encourage participation from everyone by conducting polls, asking questions, and being conversational whenever you can. Keep an eye on the chat room where you may find valuable audience feedback. Also, make sure to leave enough time at the end of the webinar to answer their questions.
5. Always do a dry run
Planning the virtual event, preparing high-quality content, and getting the word out is all well and good, but no amount of preparation can replace the importance of a dry run.
The day before the webinar, go through your content step by step, according to your agenda, as if you’re hosting the actual event. This will help fine-tune all the details, ensure all the tools are working correctly, the slides are all in order, and the speakers (your co-hosts or participants) know what they’re doing. A dry run will also give you a huge confidence boost when it’s time to host the actual event.
Common Webinar FAQs
Now that you’re familiar with the what, why, and how of webinars, you’re pretty much all set to host your first webinar. If you choose Lifesize as your weapon to webinar success, here are three commonly asked questions that you may want to know about.
How can participants join a webinar?
Once you create and schedule a meeting, you can easily share it over email or any calendar application of your choice, or simply copy and share the link to invite participants. Anyone with the link (and a numeric passcode, if you set one) can then join your webinar by going to the link, entering their name (creating an account is optional), and clicking “Join Meeting.” You can have up to 500 live participants with Lifesize.
Do I need a lot of internet bandwidth to host a webinar?
The internet bandwidth required will depend on the resolution and frame rate you desire: 1 Mbps is sufficient for 15 fps at 720p resolution, while 30 fps at 4K will need closer to 3 Mbps. The faster your internet connection is, the better the webinar quality will be. We recommend at least 2 Mbps of internet bandwidth. If it’s lower than that, the call will dynamically adjust your resolution to make the most of the available bandwidth and ensure the call runs smoothly. Also, other participants on the call who can send and receive 2 Mbps will continue to experience the call at full quality.
Hosting your first webinar can be a lot of work, but when done right, the value is indisputable. From building brand awareness and online authority to speeding up the sales process and boosting client engagement, among several other internal applications (such as improving team collaboration), webinars are a powerful and engaging way to deliver content to a defined audience.
Put the aforementioned tips into practice using Lifesize, and you’ll be hosting impressive webinars in no time.