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How to run a Webinar

I do a lot of Webinars–some of them public and many private–and I’ve found a wide range in terms of how well they come off. I am always brilliant, thoroughly professional, and modest to a fault, but the way the Webinar is organized means a lot for the participants. I realized that I’ve never discussed what I’ve learned about Webinars based on the hundreds I’ve participated in, so today is the time to rectify that. If you have to run a Webinar, it might be worth a read.


So, from a veteran speaker, here are my tips:

  • Explain who the audience is. Frequently, I’m asked to present to a group, but the organizers of the event don’t know who will attend and what they already know and need to know. Don’t make that mistake with your event.
  • Don’t demand a slide template. A lot of organizers demand that speakers use a particular appearance for their slides, but who benefits from that? It takes the speakers a lot of time and the audience doesn’t care at all.
  • Test your Webinar software. This is not one for the lowest bidder. I’ve been part of Webinars where the slides wouldn’t advance, where no one could connect, and even one where I spoke off the cuff because the slides couldn’t be displayed at all. Testing the software (and allowing speakers to test ahead of time) prevents the vast majority of the problems.
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  • Set a schedule and stick to it. Don’t be loosey-goosey about when speakers should start and stop. Tell people what they should do if their segment starts later than expected—should they take their scheduled time or should they try to get the entire program back on schedule?
  • Don’t expect speakers to notice questions the listeners type in while they are speaking. Either hold questions to the end, or have a moderator call them out over the audio if need be. Questions are great, but if you don’t split the speaker’s focus, you’ll get better speeches delivered without distraction.

These tips won’t solve all your problems, but they’ll definitely make your Webinar one worth listening to.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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