Webinars or online workshops are all the rage these days and I had to give them a go.
They are a great way to share knowledge with your followers, get personal and show your human side, bring awareness to your brand and grow your list.
Sounds great, but of course, there’s that tech setup part that just puts a damper on the whole thing. I mean, there is mic and web cam, there is presentation software and screen capture, there are slides and screen sharing. Intimidating to say the least.
Those were all the reasons why I stayed away from webinars for a while, even though I love teaching and love to share what I know with others.
Finally, after taking an awesome webinar course from Miranda Coz, I realized that doing a webinar is not that scary, it actually pretty straightforward, you just need some guidance and good bit of planning.
Yes, there’s some work that needs to be done, but what great things happened without work? Preparation will help you give the best online workshop you can give, and the tech part is not that scary and I will show what I did and how I did it.
I followed the advice of either doing a webinar on the same subject as one of my popular blog posts or something that I’m really excited about and use often. I decided to go with CoSchedule training because I use it every day and I think it’s an awesome software that can help many busy online business owners.
Prepare slides for your presentation. You can use MS Powerpoint, Mac Keynote or Google Slides (free and available anywhere there’s a computer and an internet). You can use slides exclusively without even appearing on camera or do a combination of talking in person and then behind the slides (how I did). If you do the latter option you get to talk to your viewers face to face, so to say, but you don’t have to be on camera all the time. Plus many people absorb information better when they see it, read it and hear it which is what slides let you do.
Your walk-through notes:
Besides having the slides that will, to a degree, guide your webinar, prepare walk-through notes which will help you with your webinar overall. When it’s your first or second webinar you can forget simple things like introducing yourself, order of what you wanted to cover, and, if you’re also doing a software demo, what screens you wanted to show and which options, etc. It’s like having note cards for your speech – you might not end up using them, but having them nearby is great. I know that having my walk-through notes helped me a lot.
Prepare worksheets that will be sent out to your audience in preparation for the webinar. Include top points, questions, anything that your viewers might find helpful. Include a section for Q&A and notes.
Your webinar software:
You can go as complex or as simple as you want, and with that expensive or inexpensive as you want. I’m actually subscribed to a very sophisticated webinar software, but I felt it was a bit too much to handle with everything else this time around, and so I went with an easy solution of using Google Hangouts (free) and LeadPages (paid) to hold the hangouts screen and a chat box (I used Chatango, free).
Find a quiet, well-lit place. Natural light is the best, but if it’s not available or you only have time at night, create adequate lighting so your video is not dark and people are able to see your lovely face. If you plan to have a slide-show only style of webinar, the lighting is not a concern.
At the minimum you need to have:
- A computer, laptop or tablet with a built-in webcam and mic. Be aware that using built-in solutions will cause a lower quality of the video and sound, but if that’s all you have, you got to do what you got to do
- Dependable internet. Connect directly to the internet to get better quality of the webinar, in the worst case use WiFi (but know that it might drop at any time). If you can help it – don’t use public WiFi as it carries a lot of users and your presentation will lag
- On your laptop screen you will have to have opened your webinar screen, your slides and your chat window to monitor
- Have a printout of your walk through notes
In ideal setup here is what you might have:
- Mic – I have Blue Yeti which is the best of the relatively inexpensive mics out there (I got mine for around $70, it’s a great mic to use for one or more person speaking, you can use it for webinars, course recordings, interviews, singing, podcasts, etc, it’s very versatile)
- Webcam – I have Logitech C920 HD Pro which gives you a clear, high-quality image and plugs easily into the USB port of your computer. It’s very inexpensive for the quality it offers and it’s used by many well-known webcasters. (I got mine for $49.95 and you can use it for recording webinars, video-classes, chatting with friends and clients. Again, good investment)
- Computer to run the webinar on – this goes without saying. Use the fastest computer you can get your hands on so your webinar doesn’t lag
- Spare computer or a tablet to see your webinar as an outside person – this helps tremendously as you can see (and hear, with headphones of course) if your streaming is doing well instead of constantly asking viewers if they can see or hear you. Keep in mind that when you present there is a lag between when you do or say something and when people see and hear that. On my setup it was about 11 sec. If you don’t have an extra computer, see if a friend can sit in with you and monitor your webinar for you. You can also use this same computer or tablet to have your walk through notes on so you don’t forget anything
- Smart phone to keep track of your chat – if you are using a chat software during your webinar to interact with your viewers, it’s very inconvenient to scroll up and down your screen to see your chat while also presenting. Having just a chat window open on your smart phone makes it easy to monitor and respond to comments and questions
- Good internet connection – again this goes without saying, you need internet to run an internet training like webinar. The important point here is to make sure that the computer that you run your webinar on is plugged in directly into your internet modem with a cable. Don’t run the webinar over the WiFi if you can help it otherwise your webinar might lag or worse, drop all together
- Pair of headphones – this can be simple ear buds. The purpose of these is to be able to hear your own sound quality without echoing to the viewers
- Backdrop screen – if you don’t have a place with unobstructed background where you’re planning to record your webinar, get some kind of plain, even-toned screen to put behind you to keep your viewers distraction-free
Here is how my setup looked like:
Logistics, testing and practicing:
I can’t recommend enough testing everything out and practicing in advance. It’s the only way to give yourself the highest chance of having a successful, glitch-free webinar.
Here are the things that I did that saved my butt big time.
- I tested out creating and running a Google hangout. OMG, good thing I did because I ran into a problem I’ve never heard mentioned before: to create a Google Hangouts session you need a Google account (obviously). If your gmail account is a @domain name account (like mine is, ie firstname.lastname@example.org) you will run into an error of your hangouts being disabled. There is a solution to that, but no matter what settings I changed, nothing worked and even if it did, there was a caveat that it might still crap out. I couldn’t allow that to happen so I created a brand new, regular Google account for Nightpreneur with a confirmed YouTube channel and all that good stuff. Phew, that was a close one!
- After I was able to create new hangouts trouble-free, I tested out my mic and web camera. Again, good thing I did, because by default hangouts grab your computer’s mic and camera and those are not the best quality. So I updated hangouts settings to ‘talk’ to my Yeti mic and my Logitech webcam
- After that I adjusted my webcam position and realized that my background was kind of ugly and I needed a backdrop. To the rescue came my husband with a roll-up movie screen with a tripod so we didn’t have to drill any holes, etc
- Next I tested out running a small pretend webinar and see how it looks like to an outside person (to see if it lags, if the sound is good and the video is clear, etc). That gave me an idea to use my spare laptop for monitoring purposes (otherwise I had to yell to my daughter in the other room to tell me how the quality was, LOL)
- Then I practiced switching between being on camera and sharing a screen to talk behind the presentation, which was also a good thing to do
- I setup my chat software link on my phone and saved it in my Favorites on there for an easy access
Of course, it’s always a good idea to have a backup.
During creating my LeadPages for the webinar, there was an issue with the Google cloud they resided on and I couldn’t update or create new pages. Since my whole webinar was supposed to run on that solution, I was freaking out to say the least. That affected not only the page for my actual webinar, but also registration and thank you pages right as I was going into promotion phase of my webinar.
To address that I did the following:
- I created a registration, thank you and webinar pages on my own site
- I embedded the email signups, share buttons, chat boxes and frame link for a hangout in there
- I tested all of them out and actually ended up taking my first signups through these pages until the LeadPages problem was resolved
- I will further develop my own webinar pages not to be dependent on (or pay money to) LeadPages
- After having to stress about this situation, I setup a backup for everything:
- I had an extra portable mic (Samson Go Mic, $31)
- I tested running webinar off of my laptop’s webcam
- I tested out another location I could use if the internet at my home went down
- I printed my slides on paper
- I had my walk-through notes written out in my notebook
- I had another webinar vendor lined up to host with in an even Google’s other services crapped out and there were no hangouts
So yeah, I was prepared.
If, to some of you, this might seem like an overkill, I’ll have to disagree. It made a huge difference.
Here is how I see it.
Being this prepared put me at ease (at least about the hardware and software). I knew that teaching in front of a bunch of awesome people would give me jitters and I didn’t want to add any more excitement to it if I didn’t have to.
Also, testing it all out and running into unforeseen issues gave me a chance to create backup solutions and, as a result, deliver a webinar that went smoothly.
And, from it all, I got some awesome notes and a-ha’s that I can now put down in this very post and help you in turn to have your best first webinar.
So, to sum it all up:
To have as best of a first webinar as you can, do this:
- Have you hardware set up and tested
- Have your slides designed and practiced
- Have your walk-through notes created and readily available
- Have your webinar software tested and practiced on
- Have your location decided on; lighting, background and internet tested
- Have backup solutions in place and tested
- And as an extra tip: Have a glass of water nearby, breathe and Have FUN!
Planning your next webinar soon? Grab the helpful checklist below to make sure you don’t forget or miss anything in your preparations. Wishing you nothing but good luck!
*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links for the products I use myself and recommend. If you use these links and end up purchasing the product, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you to support this growing biz. Thank you!