Create and Host Engaging Webinars: The Ultimate Guide

Rachel Meyrowitz

If you're preparing to host a webinar, you know it comes with a lot of pressure and expectations. 

Not only does it represent a crucial part of your marketing strategy (and sales are expecting leads!) but you don’t want to waste anybody’s time or bore people. You want to provide value to your business and your attendees. So, as with most things in life, preparation is key.

So how do you go about creating and hosting an impactful webinar? You’ll discover the answers in this ultimate guide.

What to keep in mind when planning and hosting a webinar 

First up, before we get into the step-by-step guide, let’s cover off a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning and hosting a webinar.

Webinar planning 

When planning a live webinar, setting clear objectives is your first step to success.

Whether your aim is pure lead generation, to enhance brand awareness, or educate your audience on a new product or service, defining specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals will guide your planning process.

For instance, aiming for a specific number of sign-ups can help focus your efforts and enable you to measure success objectively. Not only will clear goals help you measure your success when the event is over: but they’ll also help you plan the event, as you’ll find materials and topics to cover with that goal in mind.

Choosing an engaging topic and knowledgeable presenters forms the core of your webinar's appeal. Understand your audience's interests and needs to select a subject that resonates and delivers value. Incorporating interactive elements, such as live polls or Q&A sessions, can further elevate the attendee experience by keeping attendees engaged. Engaged attendees are more likely to pay attention, remember your messaging, and convert to leads for your sales team.

The bottom line is: a well-planned webinar with clear objectives, and engaging content geared toward those goals, is going to give you the best chance of generating ROI from your marketing efforts.

A screenshot of a smiling webinar attendee alongside images of Demio features live chat and polls
Make sure your webinar platform of choice includes engagement features like polls and live chat

Webinar hosting 

When you're hosting your event, remember it's all about creating value for your audience. As with planning (above), every aspect of your event should be designed with their interests and objectives in mind, ensuring they walk away feeling enriched and engaged.

Getting to know your target audience is the first step. You need to understand their preferences, interests, and where they're coming from so you can craft content that hits the mark, attracting the right crowd and keeping them captivated.

You’ll also want to make sure you have tools that provide real-time feedback and post-event data allowing you to see what's resonating with your audience and what's not, offering valuable insights for future improvements. This continuous loop of learning and adjusting is what elevates good webinars to great ones.

For instance, Demio has features that not only empower you to engage audience members but also measure that engagement so you can attribute genuine results and measure ROI. More on that later, but it’s a crucial piece of the webinar hosting puzzle.

8 Steps to Create and Host a Successful Webinar

There are a lot of things you can do to prepare for — and host — a successful first webinar but we’ve simplified it as much as possible into 8 easy steps.

Step 1. Choose your topic

The first and most obvious step is to pick a webinar topic.

We recommend the use of tools like AlsoAsked and KeywordsPeopleUse to see what your audience is searching for. Make sure you decide on a subject matter related to your brand and find one where you can either leverage internal expertise or where you have access to credible industry experts.

As mentioned above, you’ll also want to keep your goals in mind. For instance, if you want to generate a certain number of high-quality leads from this event, you’ll want to think of ideas for BOFU (bottom-of-the-funnel) content where your attendees will be at a more advanced part of the sales cycle.

Step 2. Decide on your webinar platform 

One of the most decisive factors in the success of your webinar will be the reliability and functionality of your chosen platform.

It might be that your company already has a platform and you have no wiggle room to choose the ideal tool for the job. In that case, make sure you take time to explore the tool you have in advance of the call so you understand its features and core functionality. That way you can avoid awkward “ooh how do I share my screen?” moments in front of your live audience.

If you have more flexibility and can seek out a tool to match your needs, then think about the sort of features you’re likely to need. There are a lot of bells and whistles on modern webinar software and not all of them will be relevant for the task at hand.

For instance, Demio includes the following features:

  • Participation tools — Interactive polls, surveys, Q&As, tagging features, and more, which are proven to increase attendee focus
  • Downloadable resources — Upload handouts and value-add documents. For on-demand, automated events, you can even set up timed downloads to go out at a scheduled moment in your webinar.
  • Intuitive interface — Easy for both hosts and attendees to navigate
  • Insights reports and segmentation — Powerful engagement data showing who interacts with your content, downloads, and chats, so you know which leads to prioritize 
  • Focus time analytics — Understand exactly how long people are paying attention for and see when they’re dropping off or losing focus.
  • People reports — Track registrations, attendance rates, conversions, and other webinar KPIs
  • Wide-ranging integrations — Connect tools like Hubspot or another CRM to build webinar analytics into your workflow
  • Evergreen webinars — Repurpose events and use Demio AI to chat with on-demand attendees 24/7
  • Events Showcase — Easily create a branded showcase of your webinars to embed on your website or share online
  • Spotlight audience members — Bring attendees to the stage so they can be part of the content
  • Customized branding — Keep your logo visible on your registration page, email reminders, and webinar room 
  • Personalized interfaces and backgrounds — Look professional and creative, no matter where you're broadcasting from
  • Guest speakers & moderators — You can add guests to manage the chat and Q&A or share their expertise
  • User-friendly solution — Simple, no-download tool that’s easy to use 
  • 24/7 customer support — Speedy solutions to any issues or questions to keep everything running smoothly
  • Strong security and data protection — Encrypted data communication channels, unique join links, and secure storage 
  • Boost add-on — Makes it easy for your registrants to drive further signups with social sharing and incentives

This is great if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution with a range of features and access to analytics that will help you prove the ROI generated by your event.

But if you’re seeking a platform which will enable you to have all attendees on camera (for instance, to facilitate meetings rather than purely webinar events) then you’ll want to consider a different tool with a different set of features like Zoom. Alternatively, if pricing is a key factor, you may be looking for free webinar tools. There are options to cater to every budget and use case.

Step 3. Pick a webinar format

When you know what sort of webinar platform you have — and which features are at your disposal! — you can then define the format. Here are a few examples of webinar formats to help spark ideas:

  • Panel discussions: Invite a small group of expert panelists to discuss a focused topic of interest to your audience, usually with predetermined questions from the host.
  • AMA (ask me anything) or Q&As: Similar to the above, but with a single expert and much more audience interaction. You could take questions from the live chat or ask attendees to submit them in advance.
  • Presentation: Pretty self-explanatory, but this is a single presenter going through a slide deck. This is the type of webinar you might traditionally arrange to go through a new product update, for example.

These are just a few examples and whatever you decide should also keep your goals in mind. A new feature roll-out to an audience of existing customers aimed at upselling might be done best via a presentation. Meanwhile, attracting TOFU (top-of-the-funnel) interest from people who haven’t heard of your product might be achieved by hosting an AMA with a noted industry expert on a hot topic.

Step 4. Organize speakers, hosts, and roles

Once you know what type of online event you’re running, you’ll need to organize your speakers. You might also need to find a host unless you’re taking that on yourself (or giving that role to somebody else in your company with a flair for presentation).

If you’re running a large webinar with some budget behind it then you might want to go further and formalize a few other roles to help run the event. For instance, you might need a team including:

  • Speaker(s) or educational trainer (subject matter experts)
  • Moderator to manage the live chat, maintain an environment for safe and respectful participation, and curate questions
  • If it’s not you, you’ll need to appoint a host or organizer to plan and lead the webinar and look after/help organize the speakers

You might also want to organize backups or assistants for the moderator or host to cover yourself in the event of any issues. Whether this is important depends on the scale of your virtual event and the budget level.

Once you know what you’re doing and who you need, coordinate to find a time slot that works for everybody. You could even run a survey to find out what day works best for your prospective attendees. The accepted wisdom is that it’s best to avoid Monday or Friday with your webinar, with people more willing to invest time midweek (so Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays). Also remember to keep time zones in mind if you’re hoping to reach an international audience.

Step 5. Promote your webinar

To kick off your webinar promotion, you'll need a registration page, and some tools make this easier than others.

After scheduling your webinar, Demio generates a customizable registration page and email invite templates. You can tweak the aesthetics of this landing page to match your brand, from the color schemes and fonts to adding custom fields, ensuring everything aligns with your branding strategy, including setting a cap on the number of registrations if needed. 

Now, the real challenge is drawing in your audience. This involves choosing a compelling title, delving into topics that spark interest among your target audience, and nudging your email list and LinkedIn connections toward registration.

But it’s not a case of set it and forget it: you’ll need to maintain engagement with your invitees before, during, and after the webinar with reminder emails and continued social media engagement. This is to make sure people don’t forget or lose interest in the run-up and so your potential leads don’t cool off after the event.

A strategic mix of social media platforms and targeted ads, particularly a month before the event, can significantly boost your reach and sign-up rates. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are often cited as the sweet spots for sending out invites because you avoid people’s crowded inboxes on a Monday morning and don’t risk catching them when they’re wrapping up work at the end of the week.

Demio enriches your promotional efforts with features like Boost and Showcase. Boost transforms your registrants into your promoters by providing them with unique sharing links, allowing you to track new registrations and recognize your top promoters. This feature not only amplifies your message but also drives new sign-ups directly to your Demio account, offering incentives to those who bring in the most attendees.

Showcase lets you embed a customized collection of your Demio events on your website or share them via a unique URL, making event discovery a seamless process for your audience. It’s  customizable to ensure consistency with your website’s branding, from logos and layout to colors and fonts. Plus, with UTM tracking, you can monitor the effectiveness of your promotional activities through your Demio dashboard, giving you insights into your marketing’s impact. By leveraging Demio's features, you're not just organizing webinars; you're creating a comprehensive, brand-aligned event experience recognized and trusted globally.

A screenshot of a Demio webinar featuring smiling attendees and a snapshot of features like live chat
Demio makes it seamless to present slides and pre-recorded video while enabling engagement features like live chat, polls, and handouts

Step 6. Build your content

You’ll want your webinar to be engaging, memorable, and attention-grabbing so to give you the best chance, we’d suggest you follow these steps:

  1. Create a clear outline: Make sure your message is succinct and focused by starting with a paired-down outline covering the key points
  2. Define your agenda: Start your webinar with a clear agenda to let attendees know what’s going to be covered up front and if they should save questions for a Q&A or feel free to write them in the chat as you go
  3. Include visuals: Complement your message with pictures and video where possible to account for different learning styles and to give your speakers a break (and your audience a break from your speakers!)
  4. Plan use of engagement features: If your webinar platform has engagement features like polls and reaction emojis make sure you factor these in, which might mean briefing your presenters, hosts, or speakers on the availability of these features too

A quick pro tip: you’ll want to consider doing a dry run before the big day to minimize the risk of unforeseen technical hiccups, like trouble screen sharing and problems with your webcam or internet connection.

Step 7. Host your event 

Start your webinar off on the right foot and keep your audience engaged by following these simple tips:

How to start a webinar

  • Welcome your audience: Even if you (or your host) don’t need to be on camera for the whole webinar, begin with your camera on to greet attendees personally. While waiting for latecomers, engage the early birds by asking where they're joining from. 
  • Set ground rules: Briefly cover the session's rules, like camera usage, question protocols, session length, and note-taking expectations. Emphasize the importance of respect and active participation.
  • Share agenda points: Outline what the audience can expect, including break times and interactive features such as Q&A tabs and emoji reactions.
  • Introduce speakers: Properly introduce each speaker, highlighting their professional background and what they’ll bring to the session.

Check out our easy video guide to hosting an event in Demio.

Keeping your audience engaged

  • Conduct live polls: Use polls to interact and gather insights from your audience, from ice-breaking questions to topic-related quizzes.
  • Open with an Icebreaker: Kick off with a short, engaging activity. For example, you can start with a poll or use a digital whiteboard to share a fun meme and have attendees react.
  • Play a game throughout: Introduce a simple game, like hiding an emoji in slides, encouraging attendees to stay alert and engaged.
  • Run Q&A sessions: Allow attendees to ask questions freely, using tools like tagging and attendee spotlights, hand-raising, emoji reactions, or marking questions in the chat as they come in.

By nailing the introduction and keeping engagement up throughout the webinar, you give your event the best chance of success.

Step 8. Follow up effectively 

When your webinar concludes, you’ll want to leave your audience feeling positive and like they’ve learned something.

Wrap things up by summarizing key points, and end with a strong parting call-to-action (CTA). Depending on your goals that might be signing up for a demo of your product or agreeing to a consultation with one of your sales reps. 

Share a recording for those who missed out and then use feedback and analytics to make your next webinar even better. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Summarize key learnings: Start by thanking everyone for their participation. Share a summary slide of the main points covered to refresh their memory and encourage attendees to share their insights or key takeaways.
  • Engage with a CTA: Place a clear CTA at the end. This could be a link to sign up for your next webinar, a product purchase page, a feedback survey, or social media profiles. If you're tech-savvy, add a QR code for easy access.
  • Share the recorded webinar: Recognize that not everyone who signed up could attend live. Automatically send out the webinar recording to reach those who missed it, boosting engagement even after the live event. And repurpose the recording as automated webinar content to extract ongoing value from the event.
  • Dive into analytics: Check your webinar's performance through analytics. Look at engagement rates and collect attendee contact details for future outreach. This insight is invaluable for refining your strategy and enhancing future webinars.

This streamlined approach ensures your webinar ends on a high note, keeps your audience engaged post-event, and leverages insights for continuous improvement.

A collage of Demio features, awards and screenshots featuring multiple smiling attendees
Demio is recognized as an industry leader for small businesses

Getting the Most From Your Webinars with Demio 

As we’ve covered, a great webinar is engaging for attendees, easy for hosts to organize and run, and created with a clear goal in mind to serve the sales and marketing needs of your business.

Utilizing Demio for your webinars doesn’t just simplify setup and live management but also enhances engagement and gives you access to powerful, post-webinar analytics so you can demonstrate tangible ROI rewards for your efforts.

Engagement features not only make the webinar more interactive but also help in gathering real-time feedback and insights from your audience. They help minimize the risk of people dropping from your session due to boredom and make it more likely attendees will convert as leads for your sales team.

By leveraging Demio, you're not just conducting webinars; you're building a comprehensive engagement strategy that keeps delivering value well beyond the live session. Whether it's the live interaction or the post-event analytics, or content repurposing, Demio equips you with everything you need to make each webinar a stepping stone to the next level of success.

Frequently asked questions about creating and hosting a webinar

How do I choose the right topic for my webinar?

Pick a topic that's both interesting to your target audience and something you're knowledgeable about. Start by understanding your audience's needs, challenges, and interests. Look at forums, social media, or previous webinar Q&As to see what questions come up often. The best topics are those that solve a problem or answer common questions. It's also helpful to consider current trends in your field to ensure your content is timely and relevant.

How can I feel confident hosting a webinar?  

Confidence in hosting a webinar comes with preparation and practice. Start by familiarizing yourself with the webinar platform you'll be using, so you know how all the features work. Organize a detailed run-through of your content, and if possible, rehearse with any co-hosts or guest speakers. Knowing your material well will naturally boost your confidence. 

Additionally, try to anticipate questions that may arise and think about how you'll handle various aspects of audience interaction. Remember, it's perfectly fine to acknowledge when you don't know an answer; you can always follow up after the webinar. Lastly, keep in mind that minor hiccups are normal and often go unnoticed by your audience

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