10 Common Webinar Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
Since more and more businesses and event planners are putting on webinars and live stream events, we’ve spent hours educating our event and video production clients on how to develop the best content and production strategy for webinars and live streams. (Since we have years of experience producing hundreds of virtual events, we know webinars!)
Webinars and live streaming events are a great way to connect with your audience and share your message. However, if they’re not done correctly, webinars can be frustrating for both the presenter and attendees. We’re going to discuss ten common webinar mistakes, and how you can avoid them so that all your webinars are successful. If you can avoid these common webinar mistakes, you’re on your way to an outstanding webinar!
1. No Clear Goal for the Webinar
An essential part of a successful webinar is how you measure your results. Is it by the number of people that sign up for a free demo? How many sign up for your mailing list? The number of people who attend the webinar?
How are you measuring success for your webinar? Not sure? It’s important that you set your goals and objectives for the webinar before the webinar so you can start measuring immediately after the webinar.
There are plenty of standard metrics to measure the success of your webinar. This can include the number of attendees, viewing time, engagement, lead generation and satisfaction with the webinar content.
Another way to further reach your goals is to send out a replay of the webinar. It’s best practice to make a replay available to anyone who registered for the webinar. That way anyone who missed the live event can at least watch the replay. Try to have the replay email written before the webinar and have it ready to send out as soon as the replay of the webinar is rendered. The sooner the better. Then watch the analytics for the replay of the webinar. How many people watched the replay? Did they watch the entire replay or only 30 minutes of it? Track these types of numbers and data as well.
You could also send out a survey to those that attended and ask what they thought of the webinar, what could you do better next time and what topics would they like to see you have speakers talk about in the future. The best feedback you can get is from your audience!
Be sure you’re using your time and energy wisely to gain the insights you need to continue success for your business or organization through your webinars.
2. Inconvenient Scheduling
If you’re planning a webinar, it’s best to invite participants to your webinar at least four weeks ahead of time. This allows plenty of time for them to clear their calendars so they won’t miss your event. If you’re scheduling a recurring webinar or livestreaming series, keep the schedule consistent so your participants can plan accordingly.
The time of day you schedule your webinar also matters. We’ve found that hosting a webinar between 10:00 a.m. to 11: 00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. is the best time to host a webinar or live streaming event. It’s also best not to schedule a webinar during the lunch hour. However, since you will probably get viewers from various time zones, it might be hard to avoid this. But when possible, try to do what you can to respect the participants’ lunch hour.
When promoting your webinar, include the date, time (including time zone), and how long the webinar will be. You should also include a brief description of what attendees can expect to learn from the webinar. If you have a guest speaker – or speakers — lined up, make sure to promote them and their expertise!
Webinars should typically be around 60 minutes long, with the last 15 minutes dedicated to Q&A. This gives attendees enough time to digest the content and ask any questions they might have.
If you have a lot of content to cover, consider breaking up your webinar into multiple parts so you have enough time to cover everything.
3. Choosing Boring Topics
As the organizer of your webinar, you are the person that drives the flow of the show, and it’s important that you select a topic that’s interesting to your audience. Choosing a bad topic that doesn’t engage your audience is a big mistake and is the quickest way to get a low sign-up rate for your webinar.
You can’t undo the damage caused by picking the wrong topic. Sometimes the major blunder is trying to host a webinar with a topic that’s too broad. With a topic that’s too broad, during the Q&A session, the audience will likely ask questions that are all over the place. It will be difficult for you to control the conversation or general flow of the comments.
It’s much better to focus on a single topic webinar where you can go into detail about one specific subject. This allows you to have a more targeted conversation with your audience and ensures that everyone is getting something out of the webinar.
Developing a good show flow or structure of your webinar presentation makes a big difference, too. Timing out the key points during the live stream and creating interactive features – like polls or surveys — in your webinar helps get the conversation going and keep things at a good pace for the audience.
And let’s face it: slides are boring! Spice things up with some video, surprise Q&As in the middle of the presentation, a poll or a game. Get creative! You know your audience best. (However, just make sure that your internet connection and technology is strong and can handle video and any “extras” that you’re going to throw into the webinar.)
4. Having the Wrong Presenter
When selecting a presenter for your webinar, don’t wait until the last minute – and be sure to do your research! We strongly encourage you to do your research and plan ahead. Finding a presenter that matches your target audience’s personality and has extensive experience speaking at events, on webinars or live streams, and offers the expertise to connect with your audience.
Try to attend an event that the presenter is speaking at before you book them, watch a replay of a webinar they’ve given or check with some of their references. If after your research you find the presenter doesn’t fit the vision you have for your webinar, it’s okay to pass on them and find another speaker for your webinar event.
In our years of experience in live, virtual, and hybrid events, we’ve had some of the most knowledgeable presenters on stage – both at live in-person events and online events. But often their lack of confidence ruined the whole event!
Confidence isn’t something a presenter can easily fake. Any presenter that can communicate confidently on their topic makes the audience feel positive about the information they are learning about. This is essential for a successful presentation.
When a presenter has confidence about what they are saying, the audience is more likely to engage with their content and be receptive to the message. They will also be more likely to remember what was said and act on it later.
5. Ignoring the Audience
Webinars are made for the audience!! Don’t ignore them! The speakers must engage with the audience during their presentation. Interactivity makes your webinar and the overall experience more memorable.
One of the biggest mistakes we see is when the webinar is a bunch of talking heads on screen and the audience gets left out. When there is no interactivity, there’s no reason for the audience to pay attention.
We highly recommend engaging your audience by having your presenter specifically connect with the audience during the livestream. This will help keep your webinar lively and engaging for your participants.
If you’re not sure how to get started, here are some ideas:
- Use polls to collect feedback or answer questions throughout the webinar
- Encourage audience participation with chat features
- Use on-screen questions to get people thinking about the topic
- Take advantage of social media to further engage your participants before, during, and after the webinar
It’s best to have a few contacts within your organization seeded in the chat to drive questions, acknowledge those who are communicating, and keep the conversation alive throughout the webinar.
There is more to engagement than just chat, polling, and Q&A…we promise! If you’re looking for unique interactive ways to engage and entertain your audience, connect with our creative services team.
PRO TIP: Your audience is attending your webinar to learn more about whatever content you’re sharing. So why not let them ask questions BEFORE the start of your event? Just create a form where they can submit questions beforehand.
Having a list of questions before the webinar can help keep your show flow moving smoothly during the Q&A portion of the webinar – and it will also give your presenter an idea of what your audience wants to know about so they can work some of that content into their presentation.
6. Skipping Rehearsal
Webinars are a great way to build an audience, but only if they’re done well. Not practicing your webinar is one the best ways for your webinar to flop. It’s important to test your presenter’s technical setup – especially their camera, microphone and computer — and make sure their background looks professional.
A dry run will also allow you all to test out the webinar platform with moderators, and you can go through the actual show flow. When you’re doing the rehearsal, take the time to test your technology – like testing any links or audience engagement tools – and there will be less stress.
Make sure you take the time to prepare and rehearse your webinar so that it runs smoothly on the day of. This way, you can avoid any stressful technical issues and keep your audience engaged throughout the entire presentation.
7. Your Webinar is TOO Long!
When it comes to webinars, there’s a fine balance between having a webinar that’s too long – or too short. You want your presenter to provide enough information that it’s worth the attendees showing up, but if the webinar is too long, you will have people leaving due to other priorities or things they have to do. (Or they will just lose interest.) Timing is everything!
Depending on your content, a webinar should be scheduled for somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes. This gives your presenter plenty of time to cover the material without steering too far off topic.
That’s why it’s important to have a clear and concise plan for your webinar before it even starts. By having a solid outline, you can ensure that each person who attends your webinar gets the most out of it – without feeling like they wasted their time.
Here are some tips on how to make sure your webinars are the perfect length:
- Start with a specific goal in mind
Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s something that can be realistically accomplished within the timeframe of the webinar. This will help you determine how long your webinar should be and what kind of content your presenter should include.
- Keep your audience in mind
When you’re planning your webinar, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. After all, they’re the ones you’re trying to reach with your message!
Think about who you’re trying to appeal to and what their needs are. If you’re targeting busy professionals, for example, you’ll want to make sure your webinar is concise and to-the-point. On the other hand, if you’re trying to reach students or families, a longer webinar with more interactive elements might be more appropriate.
- Make sure your webinar is the right length
Now that you have a goal, an audience, and engaging content, it’s time to start thinking about webinar length.
Remember you need to factor in things like introductions, transitions, and Q&A sessions. If you try to pack too much into a shorter webinar, you run the risk of overwhelming your audience or running out of time before you can cover everything.
- Test, test, test!
The best way to figure out the perfect webinar length is to test different lengths and see what works best for your audience. Try doing a shorter webinar one month and a longer webinar the next month. See how people react and take note of any feedback or comments you receive.
Over time, you’ll start to get a feel for what works best, and you can adjust accordingly. There’s no magic formula – it’s all about trial and error!
8. Poor Content Management
Every webinar starts with content. It’s important that the presenter gets you the slide deck well in advance of the webinar so you can look at any features they may have included in the deck – like links, videos, animated gifs, etc. You need to ensure that those special features work with your webinar platform and that there are no issues. (You also want to make sure that the slide deck looks professional…)
Also, make sure that you have a separate technical support person at-the-ready who can handle any technical issues on-the-fly as they happen the day of the event. This person must be experienced in both the webinar platform and the technical side of video and live streaming in general.
It’s a good idea to have a dedicated tech support number available that you can give to attendees ahead of time – just in case they have any issues connecting or run into any troubles during the webinar. Make sure this “webinar tech support number” is included in all communications that go out about the webinar.
Planning like this will go a long way to easing everyone’s mind before and during the webinar event.
PRO TIP: If you’re partnering with an event management company like ours, we can help with this. AV professionals are able to manage content and test out quality to ensure your content is top-notch to be shared online (and anywhere else!).
9. Lack of Tech Support
There’s nothing worse than your attendees getting on your livestream the day of the event and then getting stuck or running into technical difficulties. That’s why it’s important to let them know well in advance of the webinar how to reach someone on your team before the event.
This way, they can get help with any last-minute questions or problems and be sure that they’re good to go for your big event. Attendees should also have your contact information in case anything goes wrong during the webinar itself.
To make sure your attendees are prepared, send out a pre-webinar email a few days before the event with all the relevant information. In this email, include:
- A link to join the webinar
- Your contact information in case they have any technical issues
- Instructions on how to download any necessary software
- A list of any troubleshooting resources attendees can consult if they have problems
By taking care of these details in advance, you can avoid any stressful surprises the day of your webinar.
Also, plan to have tech support available during the event to offer assistance and manage the audience and any technical issues that may come up.
Whether you’ve got tech support by chat, email, or phone, make sure that you have someone at-the-ready to help in case there are any problems.
By planning for these technical snafus, you’ll have a smoother, more successful event for everyone involved!
10. Skipping Distribution Channels
When you’re marketing your webinar, plan to utilize all of your available distribution channels to register your audience AND market to them after the webinar is over. Share your webinar registration link internally and externally with your organization through your email blasts, social media, print media, and any other marketing channels that you may have available to you. The broader your audience, the broader your reach to share your webinar message.
When you’ve got your date, time, and format set for your webinar, start marketing it at least two weeks in advance. This will help ensure that you have time to promote it across all your channels and give people the opportunity to clear their schedules ahead of time.
You can use both paid and organic methods to market your webinar and reach your target audience. Some paid marketing methods you can use to promote your webinar include:
- Paid social media advertising
- Paid search advertising
- Display advertising
- Organic methods of marketing your webinar include:
- Blogging about your upcoming webinar
- Posting about your webinar on social media
- Sending email blasts to your subscribers
Both paid and organic methods of marketing have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Paid social media advertising can be an effective way to reach new people who may be interested in attending your webinar. The downside of paid social media advertising is that it can be expensive, and you may not reach your target audience if you don’t carefully target your ads.
Paid search advertising can also be effective, but it can be very costly if you’re not careful.
Display advertising can be a good way to reach people who are already interested in the topic of your webinar, but it can be expensive and time-consuming to create effective ads.
Organic methods of marketing your webinar, like blogging about it or posting on social media, are generally more affordable than paid methods and can be just as effective if done correctly. However, organic reach can be more limited than paid methods, so it’s important to consider both options when planning your marketing strategy.
No matter which marketing methods you choose to use, remember to include a call-to-action (CTA) in all your marketing materials that encourages people to register for your webinar. Your CTA should be clear, concise, and easy to spot so that people can register with just a few clicks.
As the date of your webinar approaches, continue to promote it through all of your channels to ensure that as many people as possible are aware of it.
PRO TIP: After your webinar is over, don’t forget to repurpose content from your webinar! Remember to repurpose content from your webinar! Use any slides, videos, audio clips, or recordings from your webinar to use in future advertising materials. Our entire production team encourages you to work smart, not hard.
Plan Ahead for a Successful Webinar Experience
We know firsthand how hard it can be to run a livestream webinar all on your own. There are a ton of moving pieces – a presenter in a different location, comments, Q&A, interactive features of the webinar platform, technical difficulties that can come up – you name it. Don’t go it alone! We can help!
Our team of livestreaming professionals can help you with your next webinar event. We travel all over the country to help with these types of events – and we can help you! Contact our events team today to find out more.