You Can Do It! How to Host a Web Conference
Host your own web conference? At first the idea may seem a little bit scary. But don’t let that stop you. There is no reason why you can’t put on a webinar that does everything a good webinar should: educate, inform, and entertain. Take a look at what goes into hosting a quality web conference and you may find your anxiety will disappear.
What’s Your Purpose?
Are you launching a new product? Do you want to put together an online course for members of your site? Maybe you have an idea for a training series for new customers? Take some time to consider how you can integrate a web conference into your current business model. No matter what you decide, you want it to be relevant.
Having sat through webinars that lacked focus, my first piece of advice is to start by identifying your purpose. Nobody wants to find themselves stuck in a “bad” seminar. It will end up reflecting poorly on your business and your professional reputation- something no business owner can afford to have happen.
Create your webinar well in advance of the presentation date so that you can prepare and make any necessary changes. The sooner you have your content completed, the sooner you can work on perfecting the technical aspects that will keep your web conference from becoming a flop. Don’t forget to find check out a few video conferencing providers to find who you are most comfortable working with. Here is a list of things you can do ahead of time, once you are comfortable with the material:
- Upload your presentation a few days ahead of time.
- Do a trial run- practice makes perfect. It’s the best way to identify any potential pitfalls. That includes pushing all of the buttons just as if it were ‘showtime’.
- Watch the conference room tutorial so that you know how things work.
- Test the audio. Have someone dial in from somewhere else as a practice call.
- If you will be making a video of the webinar, make sure your conference room has the option and take care of any details so it’s all set up.
Start Out on the Right Foot
Everything is ready to go and now it’s conference time! All of my favorite webinars have begun with a welcome greeting that pops up as soon as I log on. It reassures me that I got the time correct and also makes me feel as if I am important enough to the host to be addressed as a part of the group- right from the beginning. So be sure to have someone greet your attendees as they log in so that you get started on a positive note.
When you begin, start off strong. Give a brief introduction to the material so the audience knows what to expect. Yes, even though you are prepared, you may still be nervous. But don’t let the audience in on it! Let them see that you are calm, authoritative, and in control. Ask everyone to hold their questions until the end.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping a ‘cheat sheet’ to refer to as you go along. In fact, it’s a good idea- even if you don’t need it. You don’t want your whole script written out, because that will only bore the audience. But a list of bullet plans can keep you on track while allowing you to sound natural. It will also help you to pace yourself.
Keep an eye on the clock to make sure you are on a good timeline. And don’t speak too fast or you may lose everyone. If you start to get worried, just try smiling- it really comes through over audio. When you get to the end, don’t lose steam. You want to end the web conference on the same strong note with which you began.
Take a Bow
By the time you finish your first web conference you will wonder why you were ever nervous to try. Tackling a challenge successfully is a fantastic feeling. Before you know it you will be brainstorming ideas for your next webinar!
About the author
Jennifer Koebele, MS Ed. is a freelance writer and editor. The single mom of three lives in Charlotte, NC. A self-professed information junkie, she was hooked on webinars as a medium for education from her very first experience- a conference about the mind-body health connection. She is currently studying to be a life coach and plans to develop seminars using the planning materials found on http://webconferenceclassroom.com.