woman web conferencing on laptop
Hosting webinars can allow you to reach a wider audience, grow your brand and strengthen your credibility. — Getty Images/Antonio_Diaz

Thanks to advancements in technology, businesses have the ongoing opportunity to connect with their audience from anywhere in the world. A prime example of this is the webinar (short for web-based seminar), a digital lecture or conference held via video conferencing software.

Hosting a webinar is like delivering a presentation in-person — only with much more flexibility. In business, this is an especially efficient way to communicate with clients, customers and employees.

How webinars can grow your business

Webinars are great tools for spreading brand awareness. By recording and sharing free webinars with your audience, you attract attention to your business and position yourself as an expert in your industry. This not only satisfies current customers, but also recruits new ones, building your list of contacts and expanding your reach.

Additionally, rather than speaking to a large room of people, you can deliver a webinar from the comfort of your own home, saving you time, energy and money spent on traveling. Not to mention, if you have a fear of public speaking, this can feel like a weight lifted.

[Read: 3 Expert Strategies for Productive Meetings]

If you want to engage your viewers, you’ll have to get personal with them.

5 tips to host a successful webinar

Hosting a webinar is no easy feat. There are many things to consider when creating one for your brand. Here are five tips to get you started.

Test your audio

According to eLearning Industry, quality audio is one of the most important elements of a webinar. To ensure your sound is loud and clear throughout your presentation or lecture, you’ll want to choose a quiet location (bonus points if you can find a soundproof room!) and use an external, high-quality microphone. You might also consider hiring a technical assistant in case you face any issues during the presentation.

Choose the right time

For webinars, timing is everything. You’ll want to pick a day and time when your audience will be available, so you can ensure a high count of viewers. Think about where most of your target demographic is located, their time zone and any other details that might impact their availability. WebFX noted that you can use Google Analytics to determine which regions drive the most traffic to your website, so you know who to prioritize when choosing the perfect time.

For reference, a recent poll by WhatCounts found that Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST) are sweet spots for most U.S. audiences.

Pick a specific format

According to Search Engine Journal, there are six main types of webinar formats to choose from:

  • Single expert presenter, in which one person presents.
  • Dual presenters, in which two people present.
  • Panel, in which a group of experts present or discuss certain topics.
  • Q&A, in which an expert or panel of experts answer questions from the audience (submitted via chat and/or social media).
  • Interview, in which the host interviews a guest speaker (typically a popular influencer).
  • Product demonstration, in which the host promotes a specific product.

Interact with your audience

If you want to engage your viewers, you’ll have to get personal with them. Zapier recommends answering their questions, offering customized feedback and advice, and periodically checking your webinar’s chat function.

You might also consider hiring someone to sort through messages and questions for you, so you can focus on your presentation and tackle common queries at the end; or, you can allocate a specific time for questions after your lecture is over.

Practice, practice, practice

Like any other business presentation, a webinar is not something you want to wing. While you might not be physically in the same room as your audience, you’re still presenting to them live. Do your research and prepare thoroughly to ensure you’re ready for any questions or issues that might arise.

[Read: Choosing the Best Video Conferencing Service for Your Business]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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