What Are Webinars? Streaming, Conferences? On-line Seminars? Conferencing? Webcasts?

What Are Webinars and Webcast Demonstrations?

As we are venturing further into the 21st century the world is becoming smaller and better connected. Webinars and webcasts although similar can be made in similar ways and used to promote your business.

The main difference between webinars and webcasts is that webinars are often intended for a specific audience and specific number of people while a webcast can be either seen on a website or embedded in a blog and visible to anyone who may choose to watch it at a time to suit themselves. Webcasts are more often demonstration mode used in business to try and attract new clients and get them to buy your business or service by seeing the product or service in action and perhaps having embedded clips of recommendations or examples pre-set.

Although webinars can also of course be used to promote a business to outsiders this is not their primary function. Webinars are typically used by companies who need to bring training and development to their audience, whether they are in-house workforce, a network of franchisees or affiliates. The beauty of these things is that they can be used for business meetings that includes people from many different places.

Webcasts are often used in viral marketing because they can easily be embedded using the video sharing sites like YouTube etc. but don’t forget that PowerPoint and other presentations can be provided on sites like Scrib’d and SlideShare for this very purpose. Using these presentation sharing sites gives the serious business person access to a much bigger audience of prospective customers. See our presentations on Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/leewerrell ) and Scrib’d (http://www.scribd.com/lee_werrell ).

Possibly a better distinction if you are a consultant would be that Webcasts are more useful for promoting a business to a wider audience that is not necessarily business minded, and the approach should be provided at that level. Webinars on the other hand are generally available only to invited participants who may all use the same password to access the seminar as this makes the webinar more secure and the level of delivery can be set by the organiser or trainer with previous knowledge of the group’s capabilities.

It may be useful to turn a recorded webinar into a webcast for later distribution or providing links to it from other media. Sometimes it may be best to edit the webinar, especially if any ‘in jokes’ or swearing are used.

You can set up a webcast yourself with just a few clicks of the mouse whereas a webinar can often be hosted by a vendor and companies pay either a monthly fee or a fee for individual lectures and participants. Most webinars are pre-booked with an invited audience only, if you have not been invited to attend a webinar then you will not be able to see the lectures or attend the business meetings. Most of the content of webinars is meant only for the members of a company, who may be privy to sensitive company information that, in the wrong hands, could harm a company.

So whether you are preparing to use Webcasts or Webinars they are both easy to create and relatively quick to design and develop. And as you become more capable and comfortable they only become easier! For simplicities sake we will refer them to them as Webinars for this check list.

Here are seven tips on how to do your first webinar:

1. Clearly identify your target audience. Knowledge and the ultimate solutions will flow from this clarity. If you know your audience, you can identify with their pain and offer solutions based on your experiences. Having in-depth understanding of your audience will define how you market your webinar; what type of webinar you need to produce, and; how long your webinar needs to be.

2. Understand the ‘why’. Obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how many people fail in getting get this right. There are three major types of webinars; the sales webcast/webinar (as you may be trying to sell ideas internally); the educating on content or training webinar, and; the hybrid. Each of these types is distinct and imposes its own style and limitations. Mix them up and your webinar will fail to achieve its goals.

3. Spend a good deal of time on planning, designing and preparing your webinar.  One hour of planning is worth five in delivery. It is too tempting at times to rush through your framework and hurry to write a webinar or webcast. Some people even think that a rough, high level framework is good enough to try and make webinar planning seem easy. Every hour you spend in planning, designing, obtaining the right content and preparing your webinar will increase response rates, engagement from your audience and the chances of success.

4. Practice; Practice; Practice. This is so true you know it is right on many levels. Practice has many benefits and will generally help you to become comfortable speaking to an audience that may not be  able to give you direct or real time feedback, as well as helping you (or others) identify weaknesses in either content or delivery. Perhaps most importantly is that you can ensure your timing is about right for the time you advertised or promulgated and that you have the material flow correct.

5. In the old days we used to say ‘Death by Viewgraph’ and these days it is replaced with PowerPoint.  The second most common mistake is to have your slides contain the whole session, word for word, and then recite them to your audience. Slides are meant to be speaking hints and to anchor your audience’s understanding and preferably not to make your audience go to sleep. You should be the presenter, not the slides!

6. Visibility through your voice. Even without any webcams turned on, your audience will be able to ‘see’ you through your voice, and through the passion you convey. So here’s a tip; let your passion soak through and become infectious.  It is always a good idea (for diaphragmatic reasons) to stand when you are talking and, if possible, walk around. Just as cold callers are taught to ‘smile before the dial’ it’s a good idea to ‘walk before you talk’.

7. Which brings us to the last point and that is if you’re going to walk around though you need to have the right microphone for the job. There are two types of microphones that are best to use. The first is the headphone or headset and the second is the ‘unidirectional’ clip microphone and as you are going to be walking around it may pay to invest in a wireless or Bluetooth version.

As with all public speaking or training, in planning and preparation of your webinar or webcast is vital and you can get some good videos on YouTube and on various blogs. I won’t recommend any as it is a personal taste issue but having participated in these myself, it can be a very good way to connect with your clients or prospects.

Lets Talk Social Media can assist you in your Social Media strategy and execution and help provide ideas for building your brand using all the different relevant platforms. Email us at inquiry@letstalksocialmedia.co

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