Organising useful meetings online – some advice from a webinar host

How do you create the best preconditions for a succesful webinar? ”Know your audience, be prepared with your content and know how to do the marketing” are some of the advice from Andrew Juurinen, seasoned webinar host at XTalks. 

The Crastina theme of this month is communication culture. We got in touch with a webinar host to get some suggestions on how to create the best preconditions for virtual meetings and seminars. Andrew Juurinen M.Sc., is marketing head at XTalks who describe themselves as “the world’s leading provider of educational webinars for the international life sciences community”.

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Hi Andrew! Which are the three main characteristics of a successful webinar?
1) Know your audience. Understanding the wants and needs of your audience is essential to obtaining an engaged audience. Constructing your webinar around your audience is a better tactic than deciding on a topic that’s on your agenda to promote. What is your audience interested in learning? What issues are confusing and could use clarification? While some webinar attendees may be interested in learning about a product or service you may have to offer, the most well produced webinars help audiences solve problems, or introduce new avenues of thought.
2) Be prepared with your content and possible technical issues. Content that was good enough for a scientific conference or trade show isn’t necessarily going be engaging in a webinar. When preparing webinar content, keep my first characteristic in mind, try to find a third party perspective, and ensure your visuals are modern, and aren’t too static. Being prepared technically is equally important. Knowing what to do if an audio or visual source unexpectedly drops or if a presenter can’t advance slides, can ensure you don’t loose your audience. Even without technical problems occurring, making sure that your webinar runs smoothly, from introductions, to poll questions, speaker transitions and  Q&A sessions, ensures that you don’t appear to be blundering through your presentation.
3) Know how to market your webinar. Don’t assume that people will attend just because you’ve launched a registration page. Optimizing your search engine strategy, webinar title and abstract content are just the beginning. Outreach campaigns are essential to obtaining interested registrants. Where will people find your content other than your registration website? Can you reach certain key individuals to help spread the word? What is the best way and when should you optimally contact these people? Knowing how to market your webinar goes hand-in-hand with knowing your audience.
Which common mistakes should be avoided?
1) You talked AT your audience instead of engaging them in a conversation. While you and your content are the reason people are attending, you’ll want to make sure you get your audience involved in the presentation while you’re delivering your content. Reading a script for 60 minutes will ensure you’ve put your audience to sleep. Make sure to ask your audience questions, get them to ask you questions, and poll the audience for their opinions.
2) You got too bogged down in the details. At Xtalks.com, we cover some potentially extremely detailed topics – from synthesizing glycosylated peptides, to electronic health record and electronic data capture integration. So we’ve learned that while a highly educated audience expects a certain degree of detail from you, if you’re too detail heavy, you’ll end up loosing your audience. Cover the main points you want to discuss throughout the webinar but don’t give a detailed breakdown. Most of your webinar attendees won’t review their notes, so stick with what is memorable.
3) You marketed prior to your webinar, but not after. While the most excitement can be generated prior to the live webinar, webinar content can be recorded for review, repackaging and remarketing. You’re not capitalizing on your message if you’ve stopped marketing the day you’ve finished your webinar. You need a post-webinar marketing strategy.
Which is your favorite webinar?
I really enjoyed hosting a recent webinar titled, “Each Hour Counts: Physician and Pharmacist Perspectives on the Value of Rapid Blood Culture Testing“. Both the physician, Dr. Marin H. Kollef from Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and the pharmacist, Brad J. Crane from Blount Memorial Hospital, did an amazing job at summarizing what they’ve experienced when a patient is diagnosed with sepsis.
Let’s say that I plan a webinar. How should I proceed with my planning?
That’s really what we do best at Xtalks – but put simply, here are 5 steps you can take:
  1. Once you’ve decided on a provider, start with determining your essential content, get your webinar team on board (presenters, hosts, marketing team, and backend help) and decide on a date months ahead of time.
  2. Get your registration page up quickly (but not too far in advance), and decide on the fine details of your webinar during your marketing time.
  3. Determine the tools and strategy you’ll use to market the webinar while finding exactly who and where to find your potential registrants.
  4. Monitor you registrants and adapt your content.
  5. Practice.
  6. Plan your post-webinar strategy.
Andrew Juurinen M.Sc., is marketing head and webinar host at Xtalks.com. Andrew works with the Xtalks team to deliver webinars to life science professionals within pharmaceutical, healthcare & biotech companies, as well as research & academic institutions. 
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