Over the past year, webinars have become one of the most popular marketing channels. A lot of organizations — from small and midsize to enterprise — use webinars to establish thought leadership, enable sales teams, attract new prospects and better serve existing customers. And for good reason: They work.
But executing great webinar programs that drive engagement takes the right combination of planning, people, process and… (arguably the most important part) a whole lot of love.
And that all starts with planning a webinar agenda. So we’ve put together an A-Z guide designed to help you put together engaging webinars that your audiences will love.
Webinar Agendas: Wing em … or Plan em?
PLAN THEM. Always. Not only is your webinar agenda the cheat sheet your presenters will need to feel totally prepared on the day of the event. And your attendees will thank you. And yes, they will notice the difference.
Creating an effective webinar agenda will ensure that the experience runs smoothly and that you don’t miss valuable engagement opportunities, or forget to deliver valuable information.
We like to kick start the process by creating a webinar script. And, like a movie, a great script has a beginning, a middle and an end. Ask yourself these three questions:
- How will you grab the attention of your audiences?
- How will you keep them engaged throughout the experience?
- What will you leave them with when it’s time to close the digital curtain?
With a dynamic script and plenty of interactive elements, you’ll have them at hello — and keep them engaged with your brand long after the webinar.
ACT 1: Setting the Webinar Agenda
The beginning of your webinar is your chance to convince attendees to spend the next hour with you. Blow it, and you’ll end up competing with Facebook, Podcasts and YouTube.
First and foremost, you’ll need an introduction with a housekeeping component. This is where you let your audiences know how they can engage and interact with you and the experience.
If there’s a chat feature, show them where it is. If there are additional content offers or opportunities to register for upcoming events, call it out.
Ideally, your webinar has lots of interactive elements and engagement tools built-in. Giving attendees a quick overview will not only encourage them to interact with your event but will also get them excited about what they’re about to experience.
Act 2: Driving Engagement
Now that we talked about how to introduce the features and functionalities that make your webinar engaging and fun, let’s talk about exactly what kind of interactive elements you can include to keep audiences engaged throughout the entire experience.
At ON24, we like to start our webinars with a poll. This is a great way to get audiences engaged right off the bat, and for you to get some immediate feedback on who is filling your digital seats. The more you know about your audience’s digital body language, the better.
Running a webinar on how to create a webinar agenda? Start the experience with a poll about how comfortable your audiences are creating agendas.
Knowing how familiar your audiences are with the concepts you’re about to present will help you cater your presentation to their unique needs.
Maybe you have a room full of webinar novices and decide that you can actually go a little more in-depth than you had originally planned. If your attendees are a little newer to these ideas, feel free to slow down.
Maybe allow for questions throughout the webinar instead of only during the Q&A portion of the event. This leads us to our next webinar agenda hack.
Consider taking webinar questions throughout the entire event. A lot of presenters set aside a designated time for questions and answers at the end of the webinar — which is great!
But giving audiences the chance to ask questions during the presentation keeps them engaged. It also ensures that you don’t lose valuable opportunities to collect first-person insights your sales teams can use to start conversations.
And speaking of sales teams, find opportunities to integrate them into the experience. If someone asks a question that you don’t have time to answer, empower your sales teams to follow up.
You can integrate a sales rep into live chats, have them answer sales-related questions in the Q&A, and even enable audience members to meet with sales after the webinar in a live 1:1 virtual breakout session.
What better way to keep the conversation going, even after the live event is over.
Act 3: Pace Yourself with your webinar agenda
Have you ever attended a webinar where the presenter seems to blast though what seems like a thousand slides over the course of an hour? Or worse… have you ever presented a webinar where you just finished your last slide only to realize you only used half your allotted time?
It happens to the best of us.
That’s why it’s important to think about the pacing of your webinar before the actual live date. Know your cadence — some presenters prefer to go through 20 slides an hour, some can comfortably get through 100.
When building your presentation, create decks that match the cadence of your presenter so you don’t end up either rushing your audiences or leaving them hanging.
The pace at which you go through your talking points is important — but making sure your talking points fit the overall theme of your event is imperative.
It sounds simple enough but you’d be surprised how easy it is to get side-tracked or try to cover too much at once. Don’t try to boil the ocean.
And remember… don’t pitch until it’s time to pitch. If you’re delivering a thought leadership webinar, save the pitch for the end.
Pro Tip from ON24 Chief Webinerd, Mark Bornstein: Every webinar should have a single narrative. When building the deck, break up your content into acts with different chapters, sessions and speakers to keep it organized and on topic.
Make sure your audience always knows where they are in the story, but keep their eye on the bigger picture as it unfolds.
Act 4: how a webinar agenda Prepares Presenters
Arguably the most important part of your webinar is your presenter. The energy your presenter brings to the webinar can transform the event from a boring PowerPoint presentation into a fun and lively experience.
And why would you want to deliver anything less than that? Think about it. When someone attends your webinar, they are giving you an hour of their time and attention. Make it count.
This is your chance to establish thought leadership, become a trusted advisor and build relationships that go beyond static content downloads.
When a prospect fills out a form on your website you get a name, an email address and maybe a high-level understanding of where they work or what they do. But this is your chance to go deeper.
Before you put all the pressure on your presenters, remember that even Leonardo Di Caprio needed a little CGI to pull off Titanic. Find opportunities to integrate multimedia content into the presentation.
Most of us have tons of cool video clips we created just gathering dust on a lonely YouTube channel somewhere no one sees. Why not integrate those clips into your presentation to deliver a more engaging experience?
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over
All good things must come to an end. Great movies. Good dates. Backup stashes of Oreos. The important thing is that we give our audiences the chance to keep the content journey going with content offers, upcoming event invitations, networking opportunities or (wait for it) sales conversations.
Making a purchase decision is a journey as much as it is a destination, and the worst thing we can do is fail to help our prospects take the next step in their journeys.
Use these three ideas (or come up with your own) to encourage your prospects to continue the journey from within your own webinar event:
- Include content offers to keep audiences engaged with your brand and keep them on the path to revenue.
- Invite them to another upcoming webinar or event.
- Include links to relevant content offers or send them to an on-demand content portal.
PRO TIP: Making webinars available on-demand is a great way to maximize your attendee count. Schedules get tight and not everyone is always available to attend the live date — try as they might. Give them a chance to tune in when they can, and — take it from us — the proof is in the pipeline.
By making its webinars available on-demand, Align Technology increased webinar attendance by 54%. And the best part is, you can still engage audiences with on-demand experiences the same way you could a live webinar.
With CTAs, Engagement and Conversion Tools (including book a demo or start a free trial), relevant content offers attendees can navigate to directly from your webinar console, or even polls.
You can also deliver your live webinar directly in ON24 Engagement Hub to make it even easier for audiences to take the next step in their content journeys.
A Final Note…
Are you wondering how your webinar agenda measures up?
Ask yourself this: Did you answer every question your attendees might have had? What questions would you have had, had you been on the other end of the experience?
If you wouldn’t be satisfied with your own presentation, maybe your webinar agenda needs a little more love.
A great webinar agenda takes audiences on a journey — from beginning to middle to end. Make sure they get to the end.