1. Have an AudienceThis is maybe not the first thing on many people’s to-do list for their webinar but everything revolves around it - it is the most important aspect of a webinar venture. Your audience will determine everything about your webinar, from preparation to follow up and maybe beyond. If you aren’t clear about your target or existing audience, or don’t even have one, then you have way to go before considering organizing a webinar.
2. Define Your AudienceBe very clear to yourself or your team about what your audience will be. Who are you targeting? Are you trying to exploit a niche market for marketing? Do you want to have a message passed to members of a particular group or community? Do you want to attract people of a particular interest to a certain cause? Do you want to gather family members and friends around a common subject? Also, decide on the maximum number of participants you want to accommodate in the seminar.
3. Choose a Good Webinar ServiceMany will ask why a service when you can have webinar software? Well, the service is more important than the software, because it is what actually links all participants through the web wherever they are. Most services offer their software for free download and installation, which is why many people believe that having webinar software is all you need.
One decisive criterion in your selection of a service is the number of participants you want to host in your seminar. This will determine the cost as most service providers price their plans according to the number of participants, especially for video conferencing. You may organize webinars with the free video conferencing tools available. An example is ooVoo which allows you 12 participants for free. If you want more participants and more professional features fit for webinars, choose a paid service, which will come with its free software. For simple voice webinars, maybe you can be settled with a free VoIP service like Skype. Check other services on this list.
4. Get the SoftwareDownload and install your webinar software and make sure it works well. Most importantly, make sure you know how to operate it and use all the features. You may want to try some mock or simple webinars among friends and colleagues for testing and acquaintance.
You may also want to choose a service and software that will save your participants from having to install software themselves, unless you are in a corporate environment or intend to have frequent webinars with the same group. As a participant, I am never happy to install something on my computer for a webinar in which I will be participating only once. So, prefer a web-based tool and service.
5. Have Decent BandwidthA good Internet connection is understood to be a sine qua non condition in all cases, but is often poorly dealt with, especially in places where bandwidth is still low and expensive. Make sure your bandwidth is appropriate to the type of webinar you are having – simply voice or with video – and to the number of participants you are expecting.
6. Set a Topic and TitleThe title and abstract of your topic are what will make people decide to participate or not in your seminar. So choosing a convincing title and giving a brief description of the content are very important when prompting your invitees.
7. Schedule the WebinarThe date and time of many webinars often determine their success of failure. Choose a time and date that will convene to all if not most of your targeted participants. Take all constraints into consideration. You may also want to plan it collectively. For webinars that have international reach, take into consideration the time difference among countries, and make sure you specify the time zone of your scheduled time.
8. Invite Your ParticipantsChoose the best means to invite them. If it is not a webinar that is open for anyone who wants to come, make sure you have a reply or acknowledgement from each of them. Your webinar service may also provide a means for interested participants to register for participation confirmation. Make the registration process as easy and simple as possible.
When inviting, be clear about the title and subject, the date and time and the time zone, about who will present and about other important information on the webinar. Mention the duration of the webinar. Also mention any pre-requisites for participants, like the requirement to download and install a plug-in in their browser etc. I have often had the surprise of having to install plug-ins just when webinars start, thus ending up being late in the meeting.
Send your invitations well beforehand, giving them ample time to prepare and arrange. The lead time depends on the frequency of the meetings. Also, consider sending reminders a few minutes or hours before the webinar starts.