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Historically, webinars have provided strong demand opportunities and the ability to build brand awareness, engage your target audience and establish thought leadership in the industry. What’s more, engineers and technical professionals find great value in viewing webinars—67 percent attended at least one webinar or online event in the past year; 31 percent attended four or more (2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector).

However, your target audience has high expectations. They want a robust, interactive and compelling learning experience. Your job is to give it to them. Here are five best practices to help ensure that your webinars are effective and memorable.

1. Put Audience and Purpose First

Are you trying to connect with financially-focused executives, tactical technical managers or hardcore engineers? Where in your audience’s buy cycle are you trying to connect with them? An early-stage webinar might focus on awareness and thought leadership, mid-stage buy cycle is ripe for presenting problems and solutions, and later-stage is the time to drive home benefits and purchase opportunities.

By answering purpose and audience questions up front, you will find it much easier to create focused, compelling content for your target audience. One thing you don’t want to attempt is to create a webinar that is everything to everybody. It will end up so general and watered down that no one’s needs will be met.

2. Create a Highly Visual and Interactive Experience

Webinars are not meant to be read by your audience and blocks of text on slides are boring, so keep your text to a minimum. Instead, make your slides visually interesting. Use screenshots, product photos, and data charts and graphs—all of which can be quickly absorbed and retained by your audience.

You can also use short video and audio clips in the webinar to deliver a multimedia experience. Go one step further and engage your audience by adding interactivity. Real-time polls give your audience an opportunity to participate and also provide you with valuable data. Q&A sessions allow you to hear directly from the audience, discover what’s on their minds and perhaps even generate ideas for your next webinar.

Another way to boost interest is by having more than one speaker. Pass the speaking duties back and forth based on each speaker’s area of expertise or segments of the webinar. Or include a brief interview with an expert as part of the webinar. If you can utilize both male and female speakers, their different voice qualities can add a measure of variety to the presentation.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Your audience will know if you’re not prepared and are just casually winging your presentation. They will also know if you are reading straight from a script. Both of these are audience turnoffs.

It’s important to create a comprehensive content outline to guide the flow of the webinar and it’s essential that you practice at least one complete dry run of the webinar, including testing your technology and settings.

Probably everyone has attended a webinar where something has gone wrong: the slides don’t display properly, the video won’t play, there’s background noise or the speaker isn’t clear or wanders off topic. There are many variables to account for when creating a webinar, but you can minimize anything going awry if you practice and prepare.

4. Market Your Webinar—Pre- and Post-event

To drive attendance to your webinar, make use of every marketing vehicle you have to reach your target audience. Promote the webinar prominently on your website, send invites through email and announce the event on all your social media platforms. Salespeople can even add a temporary email signature that promotes the event, and you can use online display advertising to build awareness and drive event registrations.

Make sure you record the webinar and post it for on-demand viewing following the live event. Many people may not be able to attend the webinar live, yet are still interested in your content and message. Just as you promoted the live event, promote the on-demand version as well. Attendance of on-demand webinars is on the rise, and can often result in a large chunk of additional viewers.

Also, if you plan ahead, you can build your webinar in discrete modules and split them into chunks for later on-demand viewing. This allows your audience to pick and choose what content interests them the most and gives you more fuel for your content marketing efforts.

5. Make Sure You Have a Trusted Platform or Partner

You’ll need a reliable webinar platform in order to market and host a compelling, interactive event that’s free of technology glitches. There are many providers to choose from, including GoToWebinar, Webex, On24, Adobe Connect and more. Make sure the platform you choose has all the features, capabilities and support you need.

Another way to add webinars to your marketing mix is to work with a media partner such as IEEE GlobalSpec. Whatever your marketing objectives, we have a webinar package to meet your needs — from providing industry speakers and additional target audience to handling all aspects of event production and marketing, freeing you to focus on other marketing responsibilities. Learn more about IEEE GlobalSpec webinar solutions here.

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