Head of Customer Care at Peto
17 October 2011 22:18pm
Hi, i wonder if someone can help me. We're looking to start holding live/open webinars with potential customers.
Has anyone had any recent experience of running Webinars? I'd like to learn from your experiences.
For example, which providers are best? How did you run them? Software solutions? Links to other useful info? Hint and tips?
All comments welcome.
Account Director at Econsultancy
18 October 2011 10:44am
Hi, we (Econsultancy) ran a series of educational/training webinars earlier this year for a client. We used WebEx which seemed to work fairly well, although quite a complicated platform to get to grips with. We also use Eluminate to run webinars and I believe we have also used gotomeeting in the past. All the webinar platforms are fairly similar and offer similar functionality, so I'd suggest trying to get a demo of a few before deciding on one to use.
In terms of hints and tips for running the webinars (in no particular order)...
I'd suggest having a dry run before each live webinar where you can check the set up, run through the content and make sure everyone is happy with how the live webinar will run (we ended up having two dry runs for a couple of webinars to help refine the flow of the content). This would involve just a few people. You don't want to find out about problems once it's to late and you're presenting to a few hundred potential customers.
I'd also recommend building a small team to run them. Have someone responsible for the tech side, setting it up, sorting out any problems, tech questions during the live webinar etc... a person to introduce and present (can be the same person) and also someone to review and field the Q & A questions.
Q & A can be the hardest thing to manage on a live webinar, especially with a 100+ people attending. One tip is to have a couple of canned/pre prepared questions ready to ask to get the Q & A going. Once a few questions have been asked they then start rolling in. Ideally set up in a room with two laptops and have one person reviewing the Q & A as they come in and then passing the questions over to the presenter. It's hard for one person to present and also manage the Q & A element at the same time. When we had a remote presenter, we would email them a list of attendee questions so they could get to them quickly during the Q & A.
I'd avoid trying to manage Q & A using the audio functionality, I'd stick to posting text questions via the Q & A window. I'd also suggest that the presenter switches of the chat and Q & A windows, as it proves to be fairly distracting to them.
Make sure you have a back up machine up and running incase one fails. We had one webinar where the screen froze for our presenter for no apparent reason, so we were able to switch them over to the back up machine fairly quickly.
Some webinar providers will offer someone to sit on the first dry run and live webinar at a fee to ensure they run smoothly. This can be worth doing, as it can take a few webinars to get fully to grips with the software.
It's worth having some introduction slides running on a loop as people start to sign into the webinar. This gives attendees something to look at and reassures them that they are in the right place. These slides could introduce the session and perhaps provide a biog on the speaker.
In terms of timings, we found 30 minute presentations followed by 15 mins Q & A worked well. I'd avoid running past an hour.
You are likely to get lots of chat messages from attendees at the start asking if they are in the right place (we did, as we set it so attendees couldn't see who else was attending). So just be prepared to answer these messages to reassure people that they are not alone and are in the right place. We had a message we would post every 5 minutes in the 15 minute lead up to the start to say "welcome to the webinar on topic x, we will start at 10am". Then we would also get the presenter to say that 10 minutes and 5 minutes before so that we could test their mic was working and the volume was right.
I'd suggest testing the webinar on various set ups during the dry run (e.g. mac and pc and different browsers) so you are prepared to answer any technical questions as they come through. You can often record the webinars as well, which is worth doing so that you can send round a recording afterwards to those that attended and those who missed it.
Apologies for the essay, but hopefully there are some useful hints and tips above for you. Good luck!
18 October 2011 13:40pm
Thanks Chris. I appreciate you taking the time to respond so comprehensively. A lot to think about and do.
18 October 2011 15:03pm
No problem, glad I could help. Good luck with the webinars!
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