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Dos and don’ts when hosting a webinar

illustration of a webinar in progress

With most physical events canceled due to the spread of COVID-19, hosting webinars online can be a useful way for brands and PR pros to stay in touch with clients — or potential clients — and share their knowledge.

Falcon.io, a social media management and engagement platform based in Denmark, has long offered webinars to demonstrate its expertise on a variety of topics related to its platform. Cision tapped Dino Kuckovic, Falcon.io’s director of events, to share some webinar dos and don’ts.

headshot of Dino Kuckovic

Dino Kuckovic, Falcon.io

In your opinion, what are the advantages with hosting webinars compared to physical events?
I’ll be honest, in a world with too many conference calls and virtual offerings, I am truly excited about meeting marketers face-to-face. We all want to exchange war stories and learn from one another. Nothing can replace a focused in-person conversation and we all need to learn how to put our smart devices down.

That being said, webinars are great because they have great reach and, whether live or on-demand, allow for a success story to live on a website or digital infrastructure longer than any physical event.

Are there any differences in preparations for hosting a webinar compared to a physical event? If so, what are they and how do you best prepare yourself?
The biggest difference are all the technical and feature-related steps that go into hosting a flawless webinar. If done right, webinar attendees never know that hosts are more like jet pilots operating with dozens of clicks and boxes in the backend of a webinar.

By that I mean running the pre-webinar practice session, launching polls, moderating chats, answering questions, syncing privately with panelists while live on air, etc. These technical steps are so important because they can make the webinar engaging, something I care about the most as it is a digital medium.

What are the most common mistakes brands make when they host a webinar? How can they be avoided?
The first thing that comes to mind is radio silence! Hate is a strong word but I must use it, I hate when I’m listening to a webinar and hosts go silent. The reasons are oftentimes very valid, the technology is not working, WiFi went out, you’re trying to click on the poll feature to start, etc. but logistic and troubleshooting situations do not need to be highlighted to the webinar audience.

Some situations are inevitable and you’ll have to out yourself as having WiFi issues or if one of your panelists just dropped out, but in those situations it’s ever so important to jump right in and have someone else take over. Another example are polls; narrate active poll results coming in instead of looking at the screen. Webinar moderation creates a wonderful common theme we can follow — and who knows, you might accidentally create the best possible transition from one part or speaker to the next.

Once the webinar is finished, how do you extend the experience with follow up and distribution?
One of our most frequently asked questions during a webinar is “will you share the recording and slides?” Yes, truly! We take it upon ourselves to send webinar follow-up emails the morning after the webinar. That gives me time to clean up the recording and update the landing page infrastructure. This is especially relevant for those in our audience who sign up for a webinar but plan to watch the on-demand version instead of joining live.

Is there anything you would like to add, general advice or something you think our readers should keep in mind when hosting a webinar?
Humanity first! I’ve built our webinar program on humor and memorable conversations that make people want to come back. Thought leadership based on current and strong webinar topics make the program a success but a monotonous flatline of an atmosphere can break it just as quickly.

This post originally appeared on the Scandinavian Cision blog, and is reposted here with permission. 

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