This past Wednesday, I held my very first webinar. So far, the feedback has been excellent and apparently it was good enough that it taught both beginners and advanced some new things about keyword research and search engine optimization. A huge thank you to those of you who attended, and especially those of you who took extra time to email or message me with your appreciation.
It was definitely a fantastic learning experience. I was used to shooting videos and screencasts for YouTube, so it wasn't a total “OMG what am I doing” type of thing, but the fact that there are people watching you LIVE makes it so much more interesting, and honestly a lot more fun too.
If you have an audience base (or even if you don't, and you want to expand your audience base), I definitely recommend holding a webinar. I can imagine it being somewhat scary, especially for those of you who are shy and nameless behind your blogs and websites, but it's like what Tim Ferriss preaches in the 4-Hour Work Week: you have to learn how to put yourself in uncomfortable situations if you want to get anywhere with your business, and in life. Or, as I like to say it—take bold actions.
Below are 10 things that I learned from my first webinar experience that you can use to be ahead of the game when you do your own.
1. GoToWebinar is Awesome
I did a lot of research on different webinar hosting services, and GoToWebinar (a branch of GoToMeeting.com) has everything you need. What's nice is that they have a 30 day Free trial, so for your first one you can do absolutely free (or as many as you can do during the 30 day trial). That being said, you can only have a maximum of 100 attendees (not registrants) per webinar as long as you are in the free trial.
2. GoToWebinar isn't as Awesome for Mac Users
As good as GoToWebinar was for the webinar hosting experience, it did lack 2 important features for me as a Mac user:
- The ability to practice your webinar before it goes live. And by practice, I mean actually using the webinar hosting interface that you'd see when doing it live; and
- The ability to record your webinar.
I did perform a couple of practice runs before the webinar went live (going through the content and what I was going to share on my screen), but I had no idea what the GoToWebinar interface would look like or how it would feel to host a webinar until it actually happened. Fortunately, it wasn't too complicated to figure things out once it finally started.
Not having the ability to record the webinar sucked. I wanted to record it, obviously, so I could have it for a replay to show those of you who couldn't catch it live, so I tried to be slick and use Camtasia for Mac to record the screen on my side.
Of course—it didn't work. Camtasia only recorded the first 15 minutes and then nothing else. I was missing an entire hour of content!
So the following day, I re-recorded the entire webinar again as if it were live because I realize how important it was to have a replay to show. THAT is exactly why the replay is delayed a little bit, and I apologize for that.
3. Not All Registered Participants Will Actually Participate
I had about 160 people signed up for the webinar, but less than half actually showed up (70 total). Apparently, this is always the case with webinars, and you can't really expect everyone to show up.
There are things you can do, however, to maximize the attendance of your webinars:
- Make sure you use the GoToWebinar email settings to send notifications before the webinar starts to remind people that it's coming up in a week, a day, in a few hours, etc. Some people will just simply forget and these emails will make sure that doesn't happen.
- In your emails, make sure to tell people to arrive early because space is limited. This will put a little extra reminder in their heads that will make sure that they not only remember when the webinar is, but also that they should show up early.
- Make sure you are clear on when the webinar is. Always tell people the time zone and the time in other time zones as well, so there is no confusion as to when it starts.
- Don't publicize beforehand that there will be a replay. If it's widely known that there's a replay, then people won't show up. Along the same lines, if you do announce there is a replay, you can tell people that there will be special content just for the live viewing that will not be available in the replay.
4. Make Sure Your Audio Is Working Correctly
During my live webinar, my volume was very low for the first 15 minutes of the session. Luckily, I had the right mind to check the chat room comments and saw that many people were commenting that my volume was low. I turned it up, and then it was better.
I guess this is the one good thing about having to re-record my webinar, because I could make sure the sound was perfect the second time around, but honestly that shouldn't have happened in the first place.
Ask your audience in the beginning, or hold a practice session (if you're on a PC) with a friend and have that person tell you if the volume is adjusted correctly.
5. Time Flies Like Crazy
I initially expected to have 45 minutes of content and 15 minutes for questions on the tail end of my webinar. Well—after an hour I hadn't even finished my content, so I had to extend the webinar a few extra minutes.
I mentioned this in the video, but time really does fly by. I was actually very surprised and it made me re-think the length of the podcast episodes that I'll be doing in the future.
If you can, run through your content beforehand to get an estimate of the time that is needed to get through it. I only skimmed through my practice runs and notecards, so my estimated time was a little off.
6. If You Get Nervous, Present To a Friend
I'll admit that I was a little nervous at first. It's human nature to feel that way when presenting to a group of people, no matter if it's online or offline.
What made me feel comfortable was actually seeing a comment from a buddy of mine during the webinar, and then pretending to present to only him. After that, I got into a groove and felt really comfortable with what I was doing. I didn't worry about messing up, and because of that, I didn't mess up or fumble quite as much.
It's easier to use this technique when hosting a webinar, because you can't actually see an entire group of people in front of you. So, if you get nervous, present like you presenting to a friend, and you'll be all good.
7. If You Can, Prepare a PDF Printout Ahead of Time
I did not do this, but after the webinar I was reading on tips to help improve my skills, and came upon this one here which I wanted to share with you.
Before the webinar begins, prepare a PDF file that is maybe just an outline of what you're going to be talking about. It could just be a one-page outline itself, or a copy of some of the slides you're going to show.
The PDF does a couple of cool things:
- If you email it out before hand, people will print it out and have a tangible, physical reminder of when your webinar is. Obviously, you'll want to include the name of your webinar, the time and date on the PDF.
- During the webinar, people will pay more attention to what you have to say, as they follow along the outline or slides as you present. They can take notes, and will overall have a better learning experience as a result.
For my next webinar, I plan on having a PDF printout—for sure.
8. Get Your Audience Involved
Again, this is another tip I learned AFTER my webinar.
The trick is to get your audience involved, so that they'll be more attentive and have a better learning experience too.
One way to do this is to simply ask questions and wait for people's answers. Many people are happy to type in responses in the chat box in GoToWebinar. Read them off, and people get excited when they hear their answers read off live on the webinar.
Also, GoToWebinar has a polling feature. During the webinar, you can have people answer polls, which can be a cool way to present certain types of information to the audience as a whole, while getting them to participate and be a part of the data too.
9. Expect the Unexpected
A lot of my webinar consisted of going into the Market Samurai software and demonstrating some of what it can do related to Keyword Research and SEO. (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you purchase Market Samurai through the link) When doing my practice runs, the software ran smoothly, and all inquiries for keyword information happened at lightning speed.
Well of course, during the webinar, things were super slow! I mean like, a snail climbing a 60 degree incline with the wind blowing in it's face kind of slow.
Okay, maybe it wasn't THAT slow, but it seemed like it, especially with 60-70 people watching it live. This was unexpected, and I later found out that the reason this happened was because just being on the webinar itself was eating up bandwith and slowing everything else down.
That being said, although this wasn't planned for, I wasn't phased. I knew things like this happen all of the time, and you can't get phased (especially live on a Webinar).Y ou just have to roll with the punches.
So, during the loading times, I'd take the opportunity to give people information about what was happening and what was coming up. Also, I filled people in on some of the questions they had, and read some of the comments in the chat as well.
Expect the unexpected.
10. Just Do It, and Have Fun!
If you're thinking about doing a webinar, don't think anymore—just do it. Go to GoToWebinar, get your free trial and get people on your first webinar. Expand your brand, build authority and show yourself as an expert in whatever niche you're in. Like I mentioned earlier, progress doesn't happen until bold actions are taken, so just do it.
And lastly, have fun with it! Don't stress yourself out over the upcoming webinar that you have planned. Think of it as an opportunity to share your knowledge with others, and not as something that you just have to get over with.
I wish you the best of luck on your upcoming webinars. Please send me a registration link, and I'll do my best to make it. More webinars to come from me, because practice makes perfect.
Thanks again for all of your support, and have a wonderful weekend! Cheers!