If you’ve been asked to be a presenter for an upcoming webinar – congrats! Webinar presenters are most often chosen because they are articulate, engaging, and an expert in their field, so kudos to you. It’s an honor, but it can be a lot of work, and even a bit stressful, especially if you are new to the webinar presenter game. But having a clear plan-of-action and executing on that plan can make presenting a webinar pretty darn rewarding and dare I say…fun!
In order to help you knock your presentation out of the park, we’ve compiled a list of six must-do-tasks to make your webinar go as smoothly as possible.
1. Stick to a strict schedule
This timetable is an agreement between presenters and organizers, and is the lifeline of a successful webinar. Starting eight weeks prior to the event, there should be a mutually agreed upon set of deliverables that support the promotion and execution of the webinar. Here’s a quick example of a solid timeline:
2. Work closely with organizers to create webinar content
Webinars are a wonderful collaboration platform for different organizations to deliver great content. Even if an organization has asked you to present on a subject matter that you’re an expert on, the content development should not fall entirely on your shoulders. You may be the expert, but the webinar organizer knows their audience the best. In an ideal situation, the organizer will be able to provide great insight into what resonates most with their audience, and you can craft your content to best align with that. Work closely with the organizer from the outset to develop the webinar content. This can save time, ensure quality, and help to avoid conflicts further down the road.
Although marketers agree that webinars are a great platform for generating leads, the ultimate goal should be to create engaging, educational content for your shared audiences. By offering genuine value, you’ll strengthen your brand awareness and increase subject authority. The ultimate goal is that both parties mutually benefit from the webinar presentation.
3. Finalize all content two weeks before the event
This is included in our example schedule above, but we want to emphasize how important this step is. Having a strict deadline for all finalized content two weeks prior to the live webinar date cuts down on the stress of the presentation, and ensures that all parties are on the same page as you get closer to the event deadline. Once your PowerPoint deck and talk tracks are approved by the organizer, make printouts of all of the content so you can do several practice run-throughs. This will help you to learn the script quickly and present in a more confident, natural way. Depending on your expertise with the subject matter, it might even be better to not work directly from a script, but rather an outline. Honestly, nothing is worse than the obvious cadence of someone who is reading. A more conversational tone and flow will be much more engaging to your audience.
4. Learn everything you can about the webinar platform technology
Modern webinar platforms offer an incredible range of bells and whistles, but with functionality comes complexity. Many webinar platforms have limitations; some work best on specific browsers or computers, require downloads to present, or have nuances that need attention. It’s important that you take the time to learn the technology so there are no surprises on the day of the presentation. Watch tutorial videos, ask the organizer to walk you through the platform, or read a user guide. Taking these steps a few weeks before the event will allow you to easily flow through your content without getting caught up in technology hitches. You might also discover features that can complement your presentation such as downloads, interactive functionality, or a social media component.
5. Conduct rehearsals and hold a pre-event meeting with all parties
At the very least you should hold a dry run one week prior to the presentation. In an ideal world, you’d be able to have two or more practice sessions involving the organizer and all presenters. These rehearsals are crucial for working out all of the kinks of the technology, the content, and the transitions. During this dry run, you’ll want to make sure the content matches the allotted timeframe and that there’s plenty of time for Q&A. If there are any adjustments that need to be made, you’ve left plenty of time between the rehearsal and the live presentation to smooth things out.
Note: It’s very important to schedule a final meeting before the webinar. This can be in conjunction with the dry run, but there should be schedule time to discuss final details such as:
- Timing of presentation and transition points
- How to communicate among presenters during the event
- Planning for Q&A – who will moderate, who will answer, when will this take place
- Creating “planted” questions (and even answers to those questions) in the event that you do not have organic questions or the webinar is pre-recorded for a ‘live’ event later
- Presenter best practices including muting yourself when you’re not presenting, turning your cellphone on silent, etc.
6. Know that there will probably be hiccups
No amount of planning can make up for the unexpected. As they say – sh…stuff happens, right? And it probably will. Likely during the presentation something will arise that you had not expected or planned for. But that’s ok. Remember that this is a live presentation, and your audience is just as human as you are. If you make a mistake, need to cough, clear your throat, get flustered, have technical difficulties, or find yourself stumped on a question – don’t worry. Expecting the unexpected can help you to relax and enjoy the presentation even when things go awry. Remember that you’re there to guide your audience through educational and engaging content. Perfection is never a requirement.
We hope this checklist is helpful. Happy presenting!