You may have heard of Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory. In essence, it shows how some things cause satisfaction while others cause dissatisfaction. This also applies to your webinars. Herzberg identified “hygiene factors” and “motivators”.
“Hygiene factors” are those things that we expect as standard. So, for your webinar audience this may be the use of video (instead of audio-only) in your webinars, good audio quality, or indeed a speaker who can present well. Hygiene factors are expected by the audience and their presence alone does not cause satisfaction (because they are expected). However, if these are not present or done well, they cause dissatisfaction.
Whereas “Motivators” are aspects that are not expected, but their presence motivates the audience to feel positively about them. In other words, these are unexpected surprises, or things that set you apart from others.
If your webinars are not performing well, you are either actively causing dissatisfaction, or not doing enough to cause satisfaction.
If you don’t do these or fail to get them right as you strive for successful webinars, you will fail in your goal of satisfying your audience and running successful webinars.
Audio, Video, Lighting, Background
Getting these four aspects right is a definite “must”.
Successful webinars will always aim to use very high-quality audio and video. Since we’ve all been working more from home, we have come expect this – for example in our daily video calls. As a result, we are also more aware (and perhaps less accepting?) when someone’s audio is persistently bad, or their video picture quality is low.
For audio, you’ll want to avoid loud background noise, hard-to-hear low volume audio, and poor-quality microphones.
For video, a good quality HD webcam is a must. Some go even further and have started using their old DSLRs. If you are still using your laptop’s low-quality built-in webcam that is angled up at your nostrils, you’re unlikely to impress your audience.
However, it doesn’t matter how good your webcam is, if your lighting is not right. Successful webinars will follow the general rule of thumb that the main light source should always be behind the camera (facing you). That could be a window, an LED ring light or panel, or another light source.
If the light source is behind you, your face will be veiled in shadows and your audience won’t be able to see your facial expressions. If it comes from above (eg spot lights) the shadows will still be a distraction and the overall lighting can be uneven and unflattering. More often than not, in this scenario your eyes will just be dark holes.
Lastly, your background is just as important for successful webinars as the audio, video, and lighting quality. Forget virtual or blurred backgrounds. These make your video quality look cheap. Instead, successful webinars will make use of a neutral and/or tidy background, which adds authenticity and personality. If you regularly use a specific room for your webinars, consider spending some time on adjusting the background with that in mind.
Prepare for flawless webinar delivery
Successful webinars ensure that everything is prepared to the standard your audience expects. This is particularly true of the webinar presenters, but also applies to webinar moderators and webinar producers. Between presenters, moderators, and producers all of the webinar’s content is controlled.
If your speakers are not prepared to present their content to the best of their ability, or indeed are unprepared to use the webinar platform and its technical capabilities, your webinar audience will be disappointed.
If your webinar moderator is unprepared and treats their role as an afterthought, they can significantly detract from what might otherwise be a brilliant presentation, conversation, or piece of thought leadership. Read more about moderator best practices.
If a webinar producer is not prepared, or circumstances occur that mean their preparation is affected (eg by unexpected changes introduced by the webinar owner, an unprepared speaker or moderator), the webinar quality can suffer as a result.
In other words, preparation by contributors is key, and a full and proper alignment between webinar owner, speaker, moderator, and producer is vital.
A webinar platform fit for purpose
Successful webinars will use a webinar platform that is fit for purpose. What does that mean?
It means that an audience member should be able to easily access and engage with your chosen platform before, during and after the webinar.
It means that marketers (and subsequently sales teams) should be able to access and engage with sufficiently insightful metrics before, during and after the webinar.
A webinar platform that is fit for purpose, and is used in the correct way, will form the foundation for a positive audience experience. Audience members will have a positive perception of the webinar’s quality, UX, or UI.
A good webinar platform cannot make an unprepared speaker shine, but on the flip side it can significantly detract from a good speaker’s amazing presentation. In some cases, it can make the entire webinar inaccessible for all, or parts of, the audience.
Successful webinars will be live. Successful webinars can be on-demand, but only if they were live first. As a general rule of thumb, any webinar that is not live will be less successful than if it had been live.
Live webinars come across better to the audience for a range of different reasons, including authenticity, engagement, interactivity, and overall delivery.
How would an audience member know whether a webinar is live versus simulated live (i.e. pre-recorded and then streamed “as live”)?
Well, live allows for audience engagement through polls and Q&A, which in turn allow speakers to adjust and react to audience input. Audiences recognise this and value it.
A little-known fact is that a speaker who is being recorded for a non-live webinar will, in 99% of cases, sound different than if they were presenting live. They will sound scripted and/or recorded. Their actual tone and voice pitch changes audibly and audiences can tune into this and will recognise it. As a result, engagement levels drop, giving webinar organisers fewer audience insights and therefore create a less effective webinar.
Use a range of webinar formats
Successful webinars may shine individually, but to truly run successful webinars continuously requires organisers to think beyond the individual webinar.
Thought must be given to a programmatic approach to running webinars. One of the core aspects of running a webinar program that offers audiences more than just a collection of individual webinars is a focus on a diverse range of webinar formats.
We have a specific blog post dedicated to The Power of Webinar Formats, which we recommend you read for more insights. However, in essence there are multiple formats that go beyond your “standard” webinar format comprised of presentation and Q&A.
For webinars to be successful organisers have to offer audiences more than “standard”. By going beyond a standard format, you create opportunities to engage with, and appeal to, your audience in ways that is of value to them and you.
Taking this approach intentionally and consistently sets your webinar program apart from the competition. Continue reading for more information about webinar formats.
Align webinar formats with the audience journey
The use of different webinar formats not only offers a more diverse experience, it also allows webinar organisers to better serve audiences with a digital content journey. This ensures longer, more satisfying, and more valuable audience experiences.
When webinar formats are designed in the right way, they can be mapped to the specific stage of your audience’s content and buyer journey.
Each webinar format addresses the relevant audience segment with the detail and type of content most relevant to them. A highly mature audience segment has different content requirements than an audience segment at the beginning of their journey.
Matching audience segments with the appropriate content and webinar format is vital for effective audience engagement. In doing so, webinar organisers create audience satisfaction, making it more likely that their webinars are successful.
Moderators are the most forgotten-about contributors, yet they can make or break a successful webinar. Webinar moderation shouldn’t be an afterthought or be treated as any less important than the presentation itself. We believe this so much that we dedicated a full article on How To Moderate A Webinar.
Moderators fulfil a number of important tasks on a webinar. Most important of all is to make a good first impression on attendees. A rocky start to a webinar can result in a very early drop in attendee numbers, which is usually unrecoverable.
A good moderator will ensure that the overall webinar delivery is smooth and seamless, while also keeping attendees informed about what will happen during the webinar (and after). When considering the role of the webinar moderator, you should view it as a very similar role to a News or TV Anchor. Without it, the show would just be a series of content contributions, not a well-delivered, informative, and comprehensive show.
Ideally, the role of moderator is managed by someone who is not presenting content on the webinar. As such, moderation is a distinct role in the webinar, which should be owned by someone who is a confident speaker and can think on their feet in case something unexpected happens on-air.
A moderator does not have to be a subject-matter expert, but rather should enjoy the role for the purpose of providing a smooth audience experience.
Run webinars in the relevant context
Delivering webinars within a relevant context makes them more valuable to attendees and organisers.