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«Best Practices for Webinars White Paper Best practices for webinars Creating effective web events with Adobe® Connect™ Ken Molay, president, ...»

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Best Practices for Webinars White Paper

Best practices for webinars

Creating effective web events with Adobe® Connect™

Ken Molay, president, Webinar Success

Webinars have many different uses in the business world. You may conduct public webinars to showcase your

Table of contents

1: Balancing company, products, or services, and to collect potential sales leads. You may conduct free or fee-based training


for customers or employees. Perhaps you offer general business education seminars that establish your 2: Building attendance thought leadership on a topic. Or you may hold special limited-access web meetings for investors, press, 5: Preparing your industry analysts, and other groups.

webinar 7: Presentation tips Whatever your reason is for hosting a webinar, there are things you can do to increase attendance, engage your 9: Working with audience, and make the event more successful at advancing your business goals. This white paper offers a set Adobe Connect of best practices you can apply to your events to make you more effective at planning, administrating, 1: Post-event delivering, and benefitting from them.

considerations 4: Summary and resources Balancing perspectives 4: About Ken Molay The single most important tip is to approach your work from the audience’s perspective. This philosophy should influence everything from initial planning, content preparation, delivery style, to follow-through after the event. You will see the idea of audience perspective incorporated in many of the guidelines highlighted throughout this paper.

That is not to say that your own goals are unimportant. You should have a clear and explicit statement of intent for your webinar. Why are you hosting it in the first place? Look beyond the surface-level delivery of information. If you hold an educational event, it is obvious you want to educate your audience. But why do you want to educate them? What is the benefit your organization receives if the webinar is successful?

Here are some examples of webinar purposes that go beyond the obvious:

Incomplete goal Benefits defined We want to educate customers We want to reduce the number of support calls we receive that could be avoided by

–  –  –

A good best practice is to solicit audience questions in advance of the webinar.

A web form can provide a convenient method for doing this.

–  –  –

Send reminders Reminder emails are a good idea before your event. Some companies send one reminder, others use two reminders. Avoid the urge to send more than two reminder emails, as you run the risk of changing their Reminder emails Instead of “Reminder: perception from value to harassment. A useful schedule for reminders is 24 hours before the event and 1 to 3 Your ABC Company hours before the event. Make sure to briefly highlight the key value proposition for your audience in the webinar is tomorrow at reminder message. Many people will have forgotten the persuasive marketing points that made them want to 1 p.m.”, try a sentence register. You need to reestablish the idea that your event is worth their time.

like “Remember, tomorrow is your opportunity to learn how new regulations impact your company’s operations and profitability.”

–  –  –

There are four main functional roles involved in producing a webinar. One person may take on several roles, or a function may be addressed by a team rather than an individual. Without respect to the actual number of

people involved, here are the four areas of responsibility:

–  –  –

Coordinating/administering Schedules the event, manages setup in the web conferencing system and coordinates with other team members to help ensure deadlines are met

–  –  –

Separating these tasks allows team members to concentrate on their individual areas of responsibility.

Presenters can spend more time working on content if they do not need to take on creation of marketing materials and details such as email reminders. Moderators offer a critical backup and resource for the presenter during the event and this role should not be combined with presentation of the main content.

Plan event timings Plan out a schedule for each component of your presentation. In a 60-minute presentation, you might plan to start 2 minutes after the hour to account for late arrivals, spend 1 minute on introductory technical remarks (explaining the web conferencing controls and how the audience can interact and provide feedback), let the first speaker talk for 20 minutes, take 2 minutes for an audience poll, let the second speaker talk for 20 minutes, spend 13 minutes on audience Q&A, and spend 2 minutes on closing remarks and action items.

Your timing plan will be different, based on the number of polls, number of speakers, and so on. But each presenter and moderator should have a copy of the timing sheet so they know exact expectations for the amount of content they need to deliver.

An example of webinar timing Plan to put your most experienced and comfortable speaker last. They can adjust their presentation time if earlier activities run long or short.

In most cases, marketing and general informational webinars should have a maximum length of 60 minutes.

Training and educational webinars can go as long as 90 minutes. After this, attendees have a hard time maintaining concentration and remaining sedentary in front of their computers. Sessions of 90 minutes or more should include a break for people to get up, stretch, and take care of critical needs.

–  –  –

Focus attention Small, subtle animations can be useful in focusing the audience’s attention. For instance, you might use animation to add an arrow pointing to a key item on a slide. But avoid the temptation to add repetitive, distracting animations such as text that flies in for each bullet point. You can also use annotation features in your web conferencing software to draw lines, arrows, boxes, and other highlights that pull your audience’s focus to the screen and synchronize their attention to your speaking point.

Using a whiteboard overlay or the pointer tool allows you to call attention to specific areas of your content and keep your audience focused.

Reference information Large amounts of text, data, graphs, URLs, or other reference information should be provided in handouts that are separate from your presentation slide content. Make your presentation about the value and use of the data, not about the factual information itself. If a listener can’t actively use the data while listening to you, it does not belong in the presentation.

Interact with your audience Invite participation in the conference by including polls or typed questions and responses, but remember to frame these in terms of value to the audience, not to you. If you start your presentation with a poll asking people to provide you with demographic information, you put them on the defensive. Make sure you have given value to your listeners before you demand value from them. Each time you ask for information, tell them how answering your question will benefit them: “This will let me customize my presentation to make sure I am addressing the things that you want to hear about.” If you get typed comments or questions from the audience, refer to the questioner by first name, putting a personal touch on the communications and letting people know that you are truly paying attention to them as individuals.

Best Practices for Webinars White Paper Working with Adobe Connect Adobe Connect software has many features that allow additional flexibility and capabilities for preparing and delivering a web seminar. This section highlights ways to use Adobe Connect to best advantage in your webinar.

Use multiple layouts You can match the physical configuration of your webinar to the logical flow of events in the session. Start with a layout reserved as a lobby or waiting room for early attendees before your presentation begins. This might contain welcoming information, audio instructions, a video created with Adobe Flash® technology, or a self-running presentation created with Adobe Presenter. Create a separate layout for each presenter. This lets you keep Share pods ready for display with each presenter’s slides, and you can place speaker-specific information such as a biography or head shot in the layout. You can use an additional layout for your Q&A session, where you expand the size of the Question/Chat pod and place pods for downloadable materials or calls to action. Having each layout optimized for its task in the webinar lets you preconfigure your materials and move smoothly through the content.

Using multiple layouts in your meeting allows you to predefine a meeting flow and help ensure smooth transitions between sections of your webinar.

Reuse rooms If you deliver repeated sessions on the same topic, you can reuse a meeting room with all its content and layouts in place. Use the Pod Options menu to quickly clear questions, chat, and poll results from the last session, and then be ready to offer the content with no additional setup.

If you plan on reusing rooms for multiple webinar sessions, it is always a best practice to clear the chat and Q&A pods so that you don’t get confused about when a question or chat message was sent.

Best Practices for Webinars White Paper Create templates Adobe Connect lets you create user-defined templates for new meetings by moving a meeting into a template folder. You can specify the number of layouts, standard pod positions, and standard text that should be displayed in all meetings using the template. This lets you create consistency in the look and feel of your webinars, while making setup and preparation of new meetings faster and easier. If you want to share your template with other users you’ll need to ask your Adobe Connect administrator to put it into the Share Templates folder. This template then becomes available to all other users when they create meetings.

Saving your webinar rooms as templates can be a time-saver if you plan to present on the same topic multiple times.

Configure polls Use the options menu in Poll pods to configure how results are displayed to the audience. You might wish to display absolute numbers of votes in small meetings where attendees are part of a select group or in very large webinars where you want to show off the size of your audience. With medium-sized events (or ones where you do not know ahead of time how many people might attend), you can choose to display results as percentages so audience members are not aware of the actual number of attendees.

When creating your polls, choose whether to allow a single answer or multiple answers. It is usually a better idea to allow multiple answer selections than to offer “All of the above” as a choice on a single-answer poll.

“Display results as” option in the Poll pod Use multiple Chat pods You can encourage audience participation by asking for “fun” chat contributions. Ask audience members to type their first name. Or ask them if they can identify an actor or movie referenced in a slide graphic. This gets them used to participating and makes chat seem nonthreatening and inviting. But it can be tedious to separate the fun responses from real topic-related questions. Solve this problem by creating two separate pods for audience interactions. Keep the “Questions” pod open at all times for real topic-related questions that the presenters can review and manage individually. But when you ask for fun contributions from the audience, overlay another open-community “Chat” pod on top of the Questions pod. This lets people type their responses without filling up the question queue. It also lets them see responses from other participants, which builds a sense of community and shared fun.

Best Practices for Webinars White Paper Use the presenter-only area Place a Chat pod in the presenter-only area to allow private conversations between presentation team members during the event. You can trade notes about timing, reminders to stay on the line, or comments about incoming audience questions. Presenters, moderators, and technical assistants can communicate without the audience seeing the messages. You may wish to place a Note pod in the private area as well. This acts as a holding area for reminder messages, highlighted questions you want to prioritize, seed questions for the moderator to ask, or standard question responses that you can copy and paste for rapid answers to common queries.

Add a web link survey The Web Links pod is useful on your final layout for letting attendees access a feedback form or survey implemented on the web. The presenter can open the page for attendees or attendees can open it themselves.

Once the page is opened, attendees can fill out the requested information and close the page without affecting their status and participation in the meeting room.

The Web Links pod allows you to push any web page to attendees’ computers.

Post-event considerations The most important guideline to follow after your event concludes is to act with as much speed as possible. If you have delivered value to your audience with a well planned and executed presentation, they will be receptive to further communications and willing to give back to you with their personal information and time.

But that receptiveness decreases very quickly with time. If you wait a week to contact them, the advantages of your webinar dissipate, and you are only slightly better off than making a cold call. Here are tips for ending your event strongly and including effective follow-up activities.

Announce the call to action Let attendees know what you would like them to do next. You might want them to fill out a postevent survey.

You might want them to visit your website for more information. Or you might want them to download a white paper. Make sure they have an explicit call to action, and let them know why taking that action will benefit them.

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