You’ve probably noticed that webinars are more popular than ever.
They’ve skyrocketed from a once-a-quarter marketing activity to once-a-month.
And for good reason.
Today, everyone’s looking to better their work, their skills and knowledge.
But everyone’s also short on time and attention.
The solution? Webinars are unrivalled as quick, effective learning tools.
In a short 30-40 minute webinar session, your target audience can get snackible lessons, digestible takeaways, new skills, and walkthroughs. That window of time is also a perfect opportunity to show them just how much they need your product or service.
In fact, the best webinars can generate conversion rate averages of 19%.
And this is precisely why you just can’t afford to mess up.
Eminem said it best: “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
Your best shot at not messing up: a dry run for your webinar.
Here's everything you need to know about conducting one.
In this blog post
- Why it’s important to not skip over a webinar dry run
- How far in advance should you schedule a webinar dry run?
- What to have in place before the dry run
- Who should attend the dry run?
- Webinar dry run agenda
Why it’s important to not skip over a webinar dry run
A practice session ahead of your live webinar can expose cracks or gaps that are not noticeable during your planning process or on a Google Doc, such as malfunctioning audio settings on your speaker’s laptop or not having enough talking points for a 40-minute session. You can gauge timing, test audio and video equipment, refine slide transitions, and ensure smooth coordination with co-presenters.
It’s the difference between nudging registrants further down the customer journey, or losing them forever to competitors with better webinars.
How far in advance should you schedule a webinar dry run?
At least 7 days prior to the go-live date.
This will give you enough space and time to make any required changes.
Any less and you might not have enough time to straighten out the kinks.
For instance, if you identify that your webinar ‘script’ - by which we mean the storyboard of talking points used by a speaker and moderator - is too short, you and the speaker can work on adding more meat to it. This could take a couple of days, especially if you are both in different timezones.
What to have in place before the dry run
- A storyboard of the talking points that will be discussed during the webinar (key to this is creating a targeted abstract - read more about this here)
- Slides or a deck that will be presented during the webinar. These should be proofread before the dry run.
- A webinar platform that makes your life as the organizer easier. You should have already set it up with your branding - overlays, logo, backgrounds etc.
Who should attend the dry run?
- You, the organizer
- The moderator
- Your speaker(s)
- An additional member of your team
Webinar dry run agenda + what to check at each stage
Let’s jump right in.
1. Before the webinar starts
Ensure that your speakers are confident about using the webinar platform.
What to check:
- Test that your speakers logins to the webinar platform are working
- Check their audio and video settings
- Ensure that speakers are comfortable using the platform. Either ways, walk them through how they can present their deck or share their screen, how to change slides, answer questions and participate in the chat.
- Show speakers how they can reach out to you for help during the webinar if they need to
- Double-check that you are able to record the webinar
2. Hit ‘record’ before you start with the presentation run-through
3. Run through the presentation
Use your storyboard to navigate through the different stages of the webinar as if it were live.
- Welcome the audience + housekeeping announcements
- Introduce yourself and the speakers
- Hand it over to the speakers to share their presentation OR use the different talking points specified in your storyboard to move the discussion forward
- Q/A time with the attendees
- End the webinar and collect feedback
What to check:
- Timing: Ask the additional member of your team to time the session. If it’s severely under or over the allotted time, you’ll have to make adjustments.
- Branding: Sometimes the backgrounds or overlays you prepped ahead of time just don’t work when you see them live. Check if any need to be replaced.
- Flow of content
Visuals: Does the information on the slides sync with what the speaker is talking about? Do your visuals support what is being said? Is there too much text on screen?
Content: Are there any points during the presentation/discussion that are unclear? Your team member should flag areas that may need additional clarification or identify slides/visual content that needs more polish.
- Audio/video quality: Are there any glitches in the video? Any lags? Issues with audio like an echo?
- Polls and engagement: Driving interactivity during your webinar is critical, and polls are a great tool for this. So during the dry run, identify which points during the session, would a poll be most useful for the audience? (Note: Don’t be afraid to begin launching polls right from the start of the webinar) What poll questions can help drive the discussion forward, or interject some energy? Who will launch them?
- Links/resources: Are you planning on sharing any supporting material during the webinar? If so, who will be sharing it? Will it be shared in the Chat?
4. Don’t skip the Q/A portion
Run-through a couple of seed questions to help your speakers understand what that portion of the webinar is like. If during the live webinar your attendees are hesitant to ask questions of their own, ask your additional team member to ask the seed questions to get the ball rolling and encourage others to speak up.
What to check:
- Are there any questions that the speaker wants to discuss? If so, include them in the seed questions.
- Are there any questions or topics to avoid? Discuss what to do if these come up during the live webinar. For instance, if your webinar tool allows moderation of Q/A questions submitted by the audience, ask your team member to block these unwanted questions.
5. Post-mortem of the dry run + share the recording
After the dry run, talk through the issues that were flagged with the team so that everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done.
- Share the video recording of the dry run with the speaker, so that they can review it later.
- Talk through contingency plans in case of audio/video malfunction, loss of connection to the internet, what to do with hecklers, or any other scenarios that may arise while presenting.
- Arrange for another dry run if the team and the speaker feels that it is necessary.
And that’s it! Keep in mind these steps when conducting your dry run to fine-tune it.
Don’t leave anything to chance
By allocating time for a thorough dry run, you can iron out technical issues, fine-tune your content and flow, and deliver an exciting and interesting experience for your target audience.
But keep in mind that no matter how carefully a webinar is planned and rehearsed, something may still go wrong with it. We’re all human. So if you do make a mistake or a little mishap occurs, acknowledge it and keep going. Your audience is just as human as you are. And if the webinar turns out to be a complete disaster, reassure your audience that you will email them an improved recording as a follow-up.