woman recording a webinar
From writing a script to doing a test run of your equipment, there are several steps to take to ensure your webinars are successful, engaging and effective. — Getty Images/RichLegg

The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on businesses throughout the nation, especially for companies that have had to cancel important events that are central to their business. While your upcoming events may be canceled, webinars are a great way to host events because they are inexpensive, easy to produce, reach a wide audience and can provide you with long-term marketing and sales materials.

These seven steps will help you host a great webinarand keep your business running during the COVID-19 crisis.

[Read: Coronavirus: 8 Things Your Small Business Needs to Do]

Choose a specific topic

If you are hosting a webinar because you had to cancel an event, chances are you already have specific topics in mind that you want to present. The more specific your topic, the better you can provide deep, valuable insight.

For instance, choosing to discuss everything about brand management, a specific topic, is better than talking about the different areas of marketing, which is too broad of a subject and can encourage unrelated discussions during the webinar.

Pick a webinar format

There are many ways you can present a webinar to an audience and you should consider the best format for your audience, speakers and topic. Common webinar formats include single-presenter presentations, interview-style Q&As and panel discussions.

Ultimately, the webinar format you choose should depend on the complexity of the subject, the comfort of your speakers and your audience’s preference.

Invite guest speakers (optional)

Inviting experts and reliable guest speakers is a great way to add credibility and top-quality content to your webinar. Guest speakers should be experts on the topic you want to discuss so they can keep your audience engaged.

If you had to cancel an event recently, reach out to the speakers and presenters you already lined up as you have already formed a relationship with them. If you need to find more experts, look for individuals with public speaking experience, as they will understand how to manage their time and know how to speak in front of a live audience.

Write a script

Webinars are live discussions and they should feel that way. You don’t want to sit in front of your webcam and read an article word-for-word to your audience. However, having a basic script at hand can help you stay on track, manage your time, cover every minute detail and, most importantly, feel confident while speaking. Even if you are an expert, speaking for a full hour is no simple feat. A script is the framework to a successful webinar.

On the day of your webinar, start setting up your equipment and testing everything an hour in advance so you can provide a seamless experience.

Coronavirus Guide for Small Businesses

CO— is working to bring you the best resources and information to help you navigate this challenging time. Read on for our complete coronavirus coverage.

Spread the word

Unlike in-person events, you can start promoting your webinar in as little as seven days in advance and still get a sizable audience. However, you must also consider who your ideal audience member is and give them plenty of time to sign up for your event.

If your goal is to present to current clients, a simple email marketing campaign that encourages them to sign up and remind them about the event may be all you need. However, if you want a wider audience, promote the webinar on multiple platforms, including social media, your website, press releases, etc.

[Read: 6 Ways Social Media Can Help You Connect With Your Customers During a Crisis]

Run a test and set up early

A couple days before the event, run a test webinar with every speaker to identify any technical difficulties. On the day of your webinar, start setting up your equipment and testing everything an hour in advance so you can provide a seamless experience.

Make sure to check these things before your webinar:

  • Webcam: Most people like to see the speakers on camera. Make sure your camera is functioning and that your background is clean and free from distractions.
  • Microphone: One of the best ways to level up your webinar is by investing in a high-quality microphone. Most computers have a built-in microphone, but an external mic will produce better sounds.
  • Computer: Before starting the webinar, make sure all unnecessary applications are closed and that notifications are turned off. Additionally, make sure all updates are paused so your computer doesn’t reboot in the middle of the webinar.
  • Batteries: If any of your equipment runs on batteries, such as a laptop, make sure they are fully charged or plugged in.
  • Lighting: Another great way to quickly and easily improve the quality of your webinar is to upgrade your lighting. Place a light on your desk or behind your laptop that fully illuminates you so the audience can clearly see you.

Record the webinar and follow up with attendees

While it may seem unnecessary, recording your webinars is a must. First, not all interested people may be able to attend the live discussion but will still want the information. Second, after your webinar is over, you can use it as a marketing tool to increase your brand awareness.

Sending a follow-up email containing the resources used in your webinar, a link to the recording and a feedback survey is considered best practice and it will help build your brand.

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