By John Eberhard

A webinar is basically a video seminar that is held online. There are several services that allow you to hold webinars, including GoToWebinar.com which I have used a lot.

First, what is the purpose of a webinar? The purpose is to get a large group of people in front of you, via the Internet, to hear your message. It is generally easier to get people to attend a webinar than an in-person event because they don’t have to travel to it.

So what types of things should you do webinars about? It is important to know that people will want to attend a webinar that contains information that is useful to them. They will not usually want to attend a 30-45 minute sales pitch, with some exceptions. You can hold webinars related to:

  • News and updates about your industry
  • News and updates about your products or services
  • Details on how to use a particular product or service
  • Some topic related to your industry that you are expert about
  • Industry trends
  • A new product or service release

A webinar is usually 30-60 minutes long. The usual format that some experts recommend is to make it 30-40 minutes of useful information, then 10-15 minutes of a sales pitch for some product or service related to the topic of the webinar. When you have a sales pitch at the end, you of course want to make some sales. But it is also possible to run webinars that are informational only, where the main purpose is to establish yourself as an expert or keep your company high in their awareness.

When you hold a webinar depends on the target public, and whether your company sells to businesses (business to business or B2B) or consumers (business to consumer or B2C). One company that I worked with which was a B2B company found that their clients wanted to watch webinars on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, around 12:30 EST.

When you use a platform like GoToWebinar.com, you schedule a webinar within the system, enter some pictures and graphics, and set up who your host and any guests will be. Then the system will create a signup page.

Now you have to promote that webinar and get people to go to that signup page and sign up. My standard action was to hold a webinar on Wednesday, then send out promo email for it on the Friday the week before, then again on Tuesday the day before the webinar. Then send a promotional text for it on Wednesday morning. You can also promote these on social media. Make sure in giving the time of the webinar, to note that it is 12:30 EST or PST or whatever. We usually got 50-100 people attending, depending on the topic. It really helps in doing this to have a large email and texting list. Once someone is registered for the webinar, the system will usually send them a reminder email the day before and morning of the webinar. Plus you get the name and email of all the people who registered, for future use.

Now how do you deliver the webinar? You’ll have to get familiar with the interface so you can run the webinar. Start on time. If you have a really good public speaker, you can have them do the webinar solo. But I have found that it is much easier and more productive of a good quality product, to have one person be a host and interview another person as the guest. Then the host prepares a list of questions to get the guest talking and keep him talking, so you don’t have any dead space.

Using a webinar system, you can have a host in one state and a guest in another, and I have run webinars with as many as four guests all over the country. Each person should make sure the background behind them is neat and uncluttered. They have to have a decent quality webcam, and set up in a space without noise or interruptions.

Most webinar platforms allow attendees to type in questions, which show up in the interface. The host can urge people to type in questions if they have them, then ask the guest the questions during the webinar. So the whole event becomes interactive and people can feel they are part of it.