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12 Important Steps to Planning a Successful Webinar

Planning the full webinar before it begins is absolutely essential. Without proper planning, you’re likely to end up with long periods of dead air or being unable to answer questions posed by attendees, which can throw off your webinar and cost you conversions/sales.

Webinar Formats

There are several different formats you can choose from for a webinar. Different formats have different benefits, so you may want to use different formats at different times based on your needs.

Let’s take a look at some of the various formats and their benefits and weaknesses:

Single Speaker

In the single speaker format, one person does the complete presentation and may ask the attendees questions or answer theirs.

One major benefit of this particular webinar type is that you won’t have to train multiple people how to use the webinar software. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about timing and coordinating multiple speakers, or having presenters talking over each other answering questions.

The biggest potential drawback of the single speaker format is that sometimes people are reluctant to interact with a single speaker, because they feel it can be a bit intimidating, because the single speaker becomes somewhat of an authority figure. However, this is also potentially beneficial, because if you are seen as an authority figure, people will be more likely to take actions you recommend or request, such as buying a product.

Interview Style

The interview style webinar involves two or more people working together. One person is usually the interviewer, and that person interviews one or more other people.

Some people find that hearing several people at once helps make a webinar more interesting. Also, since the interviewer is asking the other person questions, many times this encourages attendees to ask questions, increasing interactivity.

This means you’ll have to ensure everyone is able to use the webinar software, including the interviewer and all interviewees. You may also run into scheduling conflicts, because you will have to coordinate multiple people to run the webinar.

Moderated Panel

A moderated panel has several people online at the same time with one moderator who ensures only one person can speak at a time. This is done either through the software itself, allowing the moderator to mute everyone who isn’t currently speaking, or in the same way a moderator facilitates a live discussion, by giving individuals permission to speak.

Like the interview style, this type of webinar allows users to hear different perspectives and different voices, which makes the webinar more interesting than a single speaker style.

However, as with an interview style, you’ll have to ensure all parties know how to use the webinar software and be careful of any scheduling conflicts. But perhaps the biggest challenge with this format is keeping the conversation flowing well without people talking over each other. The moderator must take great care to keep things organized.


The interactive format requires a single individual to lead the attendees in various activities such as question-and-answer sessions, lessons or other interactive content.

Because this format is extremely interactive, people generally get more out of the webinar. Attendees can ask questions, and even answer questions for other attendees. This can be very helpful if someone asks a question that you don’t know the answer to.

The main problem with this format is that it can really only reasonably accommodate a small number of individuals, because large groups can cause a lot of confusion if everyone is trying to speak at once. You need to be reasonably skilled at running this type of webinar for it to work effectively.

Planning the Presentation

You will need to plan your presentation carefully from start to finish, and you won’t want to deviate from that format too much during your webinar. The reason for this is that once a webinar has been derailed, it can take a long time for it to recover and get back on track, thus making your webinar run over time.

Since people have to plan to be present at a particular time for a webinar event, they generally don’t allot time over that. They may make plans after your webinar, and if it runs over, they may have to leave. Or they may just get bored if the webinar runs too long.

Here are some things you might want to include in your presentation:

  1. A slide that introduces your webinar, including its purpose, what time it begins, how to use the various webinar functions, and how long the webinar is estimated to last.
  2. A slide that gives information about the webinar host/presenter and any other presenters, interviewers or interviewees. Include their name, their professional credentials, and a picture if you have one.
  3. A short presentation of the webinar’s agenda, including the topics to be covered and any other material to be presented.
  4. Screenshots or videos that demonstrate primary elements of your presentation. You may be able to keep these on your computer and present them as needed, as some webinar software allows you to share your desktop so everyone can see what you’re doing live as you do it. This will let you show videos, slides, screenshots or whatever else you need to display.

Plan Attendees

Keep in mind that a lot of webinar software has hard limits on the number of attendees. This is due to a number of different factors, such as bandwidth, software limitations, etc.

If you know you have a limited number of spots available, be sure to let potential attendees know this in advance. This will help increase the number of people who sign up for your webinar, because it will lend an element of scarcity.

Record the Presentation

It’s a very good idea to record the webinar to allow those who could not be in attendance to view it at a later date. This will increase your conversions, because you will be able to reach more people than could be present due to their own scheduling conflicts or due to the space limitations for the live presentation.

If you’re going to record the webinar, you’ll want to plan this in advance so you can be certain your webinar software allows recording, and to learn how to use the function properly.

Create the Agenda

It is very important to create an agenda with approximate times so that the webinar flows smoothly and doesn’t go too much over time. Remember, if you run over time, you won’t make it to your final sales pitch with some participants, which will severely cut down on conversions.

Your agenda should contain a list of topics that you plan to discuss during the webinar so that you don’t forget any important points.

The agenda should also contain a rough guide for each segment of the presentation, including the order in which speakers will make their presentations, a list of interview questions, etc.

Here’s a sample agenda for a webinar beginning at 6:00 PM:

6:00 – Introduction to the webinar and its presenters.

6:05 – First topic of discussion.

6:15 – Second topic of discussion.

6:25 – Third topic of discussion.

6:35 – Questions from the audience.

6:50 – Product is introduced, letting people know their unanswered questions can be answered by it. This is the sales pitch.

7:00 – Webinar is concluded, attendees are thanked for their presence, and the final sales pitch is made.

Schedule Presenters

If you intend on having any special guests, additional presenters, experts, or interviewees, you need to schedule them well in advance so they are certain they can be present and on time for the webinar.

Don’t forget to schedule all presenters for a trial run, too. This should be done at least once before the day of the webinar in order to ensure everyone knows how to use the software properly and that everyone knows their role and can stick within the time constraints.

Plan a Dry Run

A trial run is absolutely vital for ensuring your webinar goes smoothly. There isn’t much that will kill a webinar’s effectiveness faster than a bunch of people saying “um” and “uh” every couple of minutes because they don’t know what they’re doing or what should happen next.

It’s a good idea to do two or three dry runs, but you must do at least one. The dry run will help ensure everyone knows how to use the webinar software correctly, the order of events, what they plan to say, and how to stay within time constraints.

You won’t be able to plan for things such as user questions as well, but you can anticipate some of the things attendees might ask and be prepared to answer those questions.

The dry run should include, at minimum:

  1. Practice the webinar introduction, including introducing individual presenters.
  2. Making sure presenters know how to use the webinar software.
  3. Check all software and equipment. Make sure the web server is running optimally. Be sure everyone has working headsets and knows how to use them and mute them when necessary.
  4. Go over the complete agenda with all participants. Do a run-through of all presenters’ presentations, including visuals such as screenshots and videos.

Fine-Tuning Your Pitch

The most important part of your webinar is obviously your pitch. This pitch must be as finely tuned as possible before the webinar begins, and it must contain the perfect blend of selling versus informing.

If the product is yours, you can be a little more aggressive with your sales pitch. People will expect this if you’re selling your own product, so they won’t really be upset.

However, if you’re selling an affiliate product, people are likely to be rather skeptical about the product if you’re selling too hard. Instead, try to focus on talking about why you personally like the product rather than just saying, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”

Here are some things you might want to include in your sales pitch:

  • A few of the most important features of the product
  • The best benefits of the product (Remember, benefits are different from features. Features would be things like a server’s bandwidth or hard drive size. Benefits would be no loss of sales due to bandwidth limitations or never running out of server space for critical backups.)
  • What the product has done for you personally
  • Why you believe everyone would want the product

Be careful not to oversell the product or people will smell the sales pitch a mile away and won’t feel it is genuine. The more personal it seems, and the more you relate to them what it has done for you, the more people will want to buy it.