Easy to access and affordable to produce, webinars are an effective way for small businesses to deliver short bursts of learning that can generate leads and deliver value to prospects and customers. Use these six steps to make your webinar a standout.


  1. Choose a compelling topic. While it’s a noble goal to dream up a never-been-done-before concept, take the pressure off yourself—you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. For inspiration, start by mining your blogs or social media for ideas, says Bhaskar Roy, vice president of growth at Workato, a Cupertino, California-based technology company. “You can also select topics that people in your industry are already talking about. It’s an opportunity to add to the conversation and showcase your thought leadership,” he says. Still stumped? Try this: Get feedback from your customer-facing employees about questions customers frequently ask or common problems they’re looking to solve.


  1. Team up with a co-host. Double the value of your webinar and increase the size of your audience by partnering with a non-competitive business or an expert with a firmly planted social footprint. It’s a great strategy for lead generation because it draws in a new audience of potential customers. Having multiple voices and perspectives also boosts audience engagement, says Becky Robinson, founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, a digital marketing agency in Lambertsville, Maryland. “When two people play off each other it creates a lively, conversational dynamic and adds credibility, especially if the guest speaker is a respected expert.”


  1. Plan your visuals. To keep your audience hooked for 30 to 60 minutes, it’s crucial to make the presentation visually exciting. Create a slideshow that is heavy on eye-catching images to support key takeaways from each segment of the webinar. For additional visual flare, consider including animations or a live demo, Roy suggests. “Instead of telling people what your product does or why something is a good idea, show them in an interesting, unexpected way.”


  1. Use storytelling as an engagement-driver. Help the crowd connect with you by briefly sharing your personal or professional story, highlighting a few details that people will relate to. Also include case studies and customer stories in your presentation. Storytelling is a vivid way to make challenges, solutions and “lessons learned” memorable.


  1. Make it interactive. Give attendees plenty of opportunities to interact. Begin by asking people what they do and what they hope to get out of the webinar and then smoothly transition to an overview of what they’ll learn. Keep the learning immersive by breaking it up into short segments, followed by Q&A sessions. It’s frustrating and distracting for attendees to have to hold their questions until the webinar is over.


  1. Motivate attendees to stay until the end. Include a few teasers in your script to build buzz about a special bonus attendees will get only by watching the entire webinar. Also provide some actionable steps they can apply to their businesses now to get results, so they leave the session feeling that they’ve gotten something of value, Robinson says. “After the close of the formal session, consider having an ‘after party’ in which you open the microphone and invite people to interact with a thought leader. That makes them feel like part of the ‘inner circle’ and strengthens the impact of your webinar.”


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