Here we are at the second appointment dedicated to digital events.
After the first five, today our Lucy James (Synesthesia event marketing manager) will reveal the latest tips for creating a successful webinar. Enjoy the reading!
6) Webinars are fantastic for test-driving new speakers and topics
In our situation, we decided that due to the high volume of webinars we have scheduled, and due to the wide range of participants that are joining our webinars (range of geographies, professions, levels of experience), it makes sense to use the opportunity to showcase some new speakers and topics. We’ve balanced this with established speakers & topics, and sponsored content as well.
The result is that we’ve ‘discovered’ some speakers we didn’t previously know so well and can now envisage how we would work together on a live event.
Naturally, it’s really important to try to gather feedback from the participants to also get a ‘feeling’ from the market. Our post event feedback forms are simple and brief, aimed to get a snapshot of how well the speaker and topic were received.
7) Speakers need persuasion to participate in webinars
Truth time: we thought it would be really easy to confirm speakers for our webinar schedule but it was more complicated that we had anticipated. What we’ve learned is that even though we’re asking less from the speakers in terms of time and travel commitment, they still need a really clear understanding of the value of speaking at the webinar, in short - what’s in it for them. The value of speaking at a webinar isn’t always clear, and even if there isn’t travel involved, the speakers are still required to prepare a presentation, share their expertise and commit their time.
We’ve worked to create a seamless onboarding for the speakers, meaning it’s easier for them to say “yes”. One thing that has also been really appreciated by our speakers is that we post the recording of their webinar on YouTube, in a relatively quick time frame. That’s something that’s important to our speakers, so, by proxy, it’s important that we execute that effectively.
8) Digital audiences like it when you communicate with them
Our webinars are focused on the tech space, so our participants are very tech savvy. However, even accounting for that, we’ve had some (good) surprises on how well our audiences respond when we communicate with them. Example:
Despite all being well in rehearsals, in one of our webinars the audio simply wasn’t working for the speaker. The webinar eventually began almost 30 minutes late. In that time we communicated with the waiting audience vocally and in the message bar, explaining about the technical hitch and how we were trying to resolve it. The response was honestly heart warming, participants wrote with suggestions on how to resolve the issue, links for trouble-shooting, and lots of “no problem” and jokes about this being “typical”. We didn’t lose any participants in that half hour wait, not one.
In the virtual event space there is a lot of guidance on creating engagement for the participants. Our experience is that the most simple communication, even about an issue being resolved, became a point for engagement with the participants.
9) Participant engagement doesn’t have to be complicated
We’ve touched on this a bit in the previous point, but to expand:
For virtual events that comprise multiple speakers & presentations, a digital exhibition, and networking elements, the expectations for audience engagement are quite high. Webinars are usually single presentations meaning that the expectations for audience engagement are quite low.
As previously mentioned we adapted to use a new tool for the Q&A part of the webinar to improve the usability and interaction for the speakers and the participants. Another really simple engagement piece that we have used (not always, but sometimes), is the message bar on the webinar platform. We found that posting a simple “hello, where is everyone from” resulted in an explosion of messages and interaction. Is that critical to the webinar? Of course not. Is it a nice extra that creates a personalised experience for the participants? Absolutely.
10) Our core philosophy is just as important for our webinars as it is for our live events
The quality of event experience has always been fundamental for us: always looking for incremental changes and improvements that impact our speakers, sponsors, partners and participants. The same is true with our webinars. We’ve worked to ‘tweak’ all parts of the process: planning, communications, graphics, content, and more, to continuously improve the webinars that we’re putting in the market. The results? Our registrations are consistent (in a crowded market this is an achievement!). The percentage of registrants attending the webinar is still increasing with every webinar that we run. And we’ve received some incredible testimonials:
Webinar sponsor: “The Droidcon Italy webinars gave the Bluetooth SIG the very welcome chance to share recent, exciting advancements in Bluetooth technology with Android developers at a time when it wasn’t possible to get together in person. Our webinar audiences have been really engaged and the whole experience has been excellent!”
Webinar participant: “This webinar - available to us across the globe - gave me the chance to improve myself and learn from Android experts. Everything was great!”
Webinar participant: “Great presentation with 100% user engagement.”
In our experience webinars offer a great way to stay connected with a community, and to showcase new speakers and content. Naturally there are differences in the organisation process, but there are also parallels between the venue/ the platform, the rehearsal/ the green room, the networking break/ the chat bar. We have found that being open minded to testing new tools and platforms has helped to improve our webinars, and that continuing to be focused on the details has led to a high quality experience for all involved.