This month, I had the pleasure of hosting UK Marketing Day – a virtual event for UK marketers that consisted of 7 webinars in one day (yes that really did say 7!).
Not only did I moderate all 7 webinars, I also ran each one using GoToWebinar. I’ve run hundreds of webinars before, but never so many in one day. As a result, it’s fair to say that I’ve learnt a number of lessons :)
So here are my takeaways from running 7 webinars in just one day.
1. Have at least 30 minutes in between each webinar
This was our webinar programme – 7 webinars starting at the top of the hour and lasting 30 minutes.
I started each webinar in practice mode 20 minutes before the live start time. That allowed our speakers to join ahead of the attendees, to switch presenters, test audio and webcams. This meant that we had just 10 minutes between the end of one webinar and before I had to open up the next one. Not a great deal of time. So If you’re going to be running more than one webinar in a day, then I’d say that you must allow at least 30 minutes in between each presentation.
2. Remind speakers of their time slots more than once
We had speakers from Australia, Israel, Chicago, Canada and the UK which meant that everyone was in a different time zone. To ensure that everyone knew when they had to join the webinar, I reminded everyone of their speaking slot time on the calendar invites, during the rehearsals and the week of the event. I even sent out a reminder email one day before the webinar to ensure that no-one forgot about the event. I’m pleased to say that this paid off – not a single speaker was late and all sessions started on time.
3. Insist on receiving a copy of the slides BEFORE the event
By only using experts who you often see at the big marketing conferences, you’d think that their slides would be perfection. Even though I requested a copy of the slides to review ahead of the event, not all presenters were able to send them through in time. I was therefore ‘blind’ to their presentation and was left looking at a few typos on the screen together with the audience. Not something that anyone wants to see. So lesson learnt – no matter who is presenting, always insist that they send you the slides ahead of the event so you can double check for typos and grammatical errors.
4. Make sure you’ve got supplies in
With so little time in between each webinar (just 10 minutes from the end of one before having to open up the next), you need to arrange your food and fluids ahead of time. Grab a couple of glasses of water, make yourself a sandwich, have fruit on tap and anything else you want to munch on to keep your energy levels high.
5. Let everyone know
The last thing you want when you’re running a webinar is someone walking in when you’re on webcam. Ahead of the event, I told colleagues that I would be in our webinar room all day (I also didn’t want them worrying about my whereabouts!) and I put a sign on the door telling people not to enter. It’s a simple thing to do, but it does prevent any awkward moments.
6. Insist on a rehearsal even if they’ve done 100s of webinars before
Not only are rehearsals useful as they remind people how to share their screen and turn on their webcams, but they’re also important for relationship-building. Yes, it’s an opportunity to go over the logistics for the day and test audio, but I love being able to meet and see the presenters face-to-face ahead of an event. It makes a difference to how we respond to each other going forward and it throws up some good ideas for what could be done before, during and after the webinar. So rehearsals really are a must – even if they last for just 10-15 minutes – do them!
7. Insist on using a telephone if hotel internet is unreliable
Sometimes the internet in hotels, particularly when they’re running conferences and have a lot of people in the building, are a little unreliable. That makes using a webcam and VoIP a little tricky and can interrupt the audio quality. I’d therefore say, where possible, to insist that the presenter has a telephone available to use for the webinar so that the audience has a great experience.
8. Have backup slides ready
As I was chatting to our speaker before the 5th presentation on UK Marketing Day, I noticed that something was looking quite right on her slides. We therefore decided that I would share my screen as I had a backup copy of the slides all ready. I quickly made myself the presenter and gave the speaker keyboard and mouse control so that she could advance the slides along. This reinforces the point I made earlier about requesting a copy of the slides ahead of the webinar. And make sure you save the presentations in the same folder on your computer to make them quickly accessible.
9. Use a hashtag
If you’re running a big event, you’ve probably decided on using a hashtag. That’s great. Now what I did for #ukmarketingday was to feature the hashtag on every opening slide, I chatted it out to the audience via the chat pane on GoToWebinar so they could see it throughout each webinar, I mentioned it at the start and end of each session and our event partners, Unbounce and Marketo, engaged with tweeters as they posted on Twitter throughout the day. It was so lovely to see the positive feedback, networking and attendees and speakers coming together beyond the event.
Finally, I would say that a great deal of preparation really did get me through the 7 webinars. I practiced the introductions for each webinar several times, I knew which session was coming up next so I could promote it at the end of each webinar, I was confident that the speakers knew exactly what they needed to do and what time to show up, my webinar room was stocked up with drinks and food and I even brought in a blanket in case the office got a bit chilly. Thinking about the little things and preparing for the webinarthon helped to make UK Marketing Day a success.
But would I run so many webinars in a day again? The jury is still out on that one…!
For more expert tips on how to host exceptional webinars, download the free eBook: The Insider’s Guide to Better Webinars