10 Best Practices for Preparing Your Guest Webinar Speakers
When planning a webinar, a crucial piece for pulling off a successful event is adequately preparing your guest webinar speakers for all the possibilities that come with a live production. We’ve put together a list of 10 best practices to thoroughly prepare your webinar speakers before, during and after the webinar.
Best Practice #1: Schedule practice sessions for each webinar
Practice makes perfect! Three to four dry-runs might be overkill for a reoccurring webinar, but for each brand-new webinar, if you are not making changes and updates after each dry-run, you’re not collaborating enough.
Dry-runs are the time to find all the gaps in content, ensure the presentation is smoothly transitioning throughout the entirety of the webinar and see if the webinar speakers have any issues with managing the webinar platform or connecting to audio.
Best Practice #2: Coach your webinar speakers on effective presentation skills
More people are likely to engage and pay attention when there are energetic and lively webinar speakers. Webinar attendees will take note if your webinar speakers’ delivery of presentations are engaging, easy to follow and have periods of interaction.
Ensure your webinar speakers don’t “talk at” attendees, or give a “death by PowerPoint” presentation. Similarly, ensuring there is something new to look at every minute or so on the screen will help to keep attendees engaged. Make sure your webinar speakers don’t sound like they are reading from a script either. Watch out for a monotone voice and those nails-on-chalkboard “um’s”.
Coaching your webinar speakers until they are comfortable speaking to a live audience and practicing all the above items will go a long way in having a successful webinar.
Best Practice #3: Train guest webinar speakers on your webinar platform
In many cases, your webinar speakers might have to manage the webinar platform in some context. Whether it is to advance their PowerPoint slides, type a question in the chat or put themselves on mute. Without proper preparation and training before a webinar, you’re likely to have confused webinar speakers if they are not familiar with your webinar platform. Likewise, if you have webinar speakers that are “technically-challenged” make sure you have multiple training sessions until they have it down.
Best Practice #4: Review and collaborate on all webinar content
Don’t let your guest webinar speakers plan the entire webinar, including content and engagement. As the primary webinar host, you oversee the whole webinar and its success. Make sure the guest webinar speakers are not putting together a “death-by-PowerPoint presentation.” And ensure that they are including multiple engagement opportunities with webinar attendees to keep them entertained. Similarly, encourage your webinar speakers to use powerful images in their presentations that align with their content.
During your dry-runs see what engagement tools are being used with the content, are they using the chat, Q&A and polling features to their advantages? Does the text in the polls align to the content and goals of the webinar? A webinar is more than a webinar speaker spewing words; it’s an opportunity for a webinar speaker to interact with prospects or existing clients and to make a positive impact.
During your dry-runs, review the agenda and objectives of the webinar content to ensure it aligns with the text on the webinar registration page and that it fulfills the reason people are attending! Also during your dry-runs, it’s important to have at least one full dry-run to see if the content is long enough to last the entire length of the webinar.
Best Practice #5: Review webcam best practices
It is best practice to use a webcam when you’re live on a webinar, it gives a more personal touch and can feel more like an in-person event. Yet, there are many things to consider when you put a person on webcam.
Make sure the webinar speaker selects a nice solid colored shirt to wear the day of the live event, preferably not black. Also, ensure that whatever is shown behind them on the webcam screen is neat and tidy. I’ve seen messy beds in the background of a webcam before. Awkward!
Another best practice is to ensure there is a light set-up behind the speaker. This will make everyone look better on webcam. Before the live event if the webinar speaker is using a portable webcam, make sure they have the best angle on the camera, so it’s not too low or not too high. Lastly, give the webinar speaker a few tips about how close to move in on the webcam, don’t want to get too close, that would look strange — and too far away would be hard to see them.
Best Practice #6: Review all technical possibilities and create a playbook
Not only should you review what could potentially happen during the live webinar, like an audio failure, but you should also put together a playbook for how to react to every type of error should a technical error happen. This playbook should have a list of all error types and then a response for options of what to do.
With the audio failure example above, if their audio line is cut off, a playbook response could be to make sure they have a second phone available to dial in at any time. Likewise, if there is an internet failure an option in the playbook would be to have an alternative option nearby, like using a cell phone as a hot spot. These are the types of items to include in your playbook, so when something happens (and it inevitably does!) you know that the situation is covered.
Best Practice #7: Prepare a webinar script
A webinar script is like a map. Its function is to keep you on the right path throughout the length of the webinar and not find yourself on the wrong path halfway along the trip.
This script should be in the webinar speakers voice and cover all the main sections of the webinar. Ideally, a good webinar script is written from the initial introduction down to the goodbye and thank you for attending.
The script should include when to ask webinar attendees a question or request that they answer a poll. And highlight sections that are important to add a little extra energy, for example. With a solid webinar script, your webinar speaker will walk into (or sign into) the webinar fully prepared and ready to go without any hesitations on where to begin.
Best Practice #8: Prepare webinar speaker for post-webinar Q&A
Depending on who your webinar speaker is, an internal employee or an outsourced industry expert, you should prepare them for what type of questions may come up during the Q&A part of the webinar. You might want to bring in some internal help to answer questions that are beyond this person’s knowledge base, particularly if they are an outside industry expert, but might not be an expert on your offering.
Having the webinar speaker offer their contact information to webinar registrants to be able to reach out directly to ask questions after the webinar is a best practice as well. Some webinar speakers might not be keen on having their information distributed, so this option should be discussed beforehand.
As a side note, you might want to offer your webinar registration list as a thank you or payment to your webinar speaker. Before offering this as an option make sure you aren’t “selling your list” to a speaker who is just going to email spam them, ensure it could be just as beneficial for your webinar registrants to hear from your webinar speaker too.
Best Practice #9: Login to the webinar at least 30 minutes beforehand
This piece is very, very important — I cannot stress it enough! Make sure all key players of the webinar login to the webinar at 30 minutes before the start of the webinar. When this doesn’t happen, you never know what could take place throughout the webinar.
Use this time to do a last review of the content, ensure your engagement tools are set-up, test the sound quality and check that the audio is working. Have someone do a test to make sure that webinar attendees can access the webinar without a problem as well.
Doing this before the webinar start time will allow you to begin right on time and know that the webinar will most likely get off to a good start. Never hurts to have a few extra minutes to “pump” up the webinar speaker too, give them a little burst of energy to knock the webinar out of the park.
Best Practice #10: Help webinar speaker prep a sheltered space for the live webinar
If your webinar speaker is doing the webinar from a home office, ensure that their kids, pets, neighbors, mailman, or whoever, won’t interfere or make any noise during the live webinar. I’ve been on a webinar where a handyman accidentally walked in the path of the webcam, while funny, it took the whole webinar off track.
Alternatively, if they are doing the webinar from a work office, have them find a quiet room with a door where they won’t be disturbed. Perhaps even put up a sign saying, “live webinar in the process, please keep your voices down.” Have them keep this space clean and free of clutter. Have them also potentially shut down their cell phone, email and IM apps on their computer. Just eliminate potential distributions, then it can never become an issue.
Make the time to follow these best practices and ensure your webinar speakers are fully prepared for the live event. Your webinar speakers might believe they are seasoned speakers, even so, all you need to do is ensure they check all the above 10 boxes and then you will have the confidence in their speaking and presenting abilities to move forward with them as webinar speakers. A webinar speaker makes or breaks a webinar. They can have the best content, but if the delivery is poor, your company’s reputation can be on the line, not to mention the webinar speaker’s reputation, too.