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Why Hosting a Webinar is like Hosting a Dinner Party

Posted by Simone Nabers on
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I thought this post was most appropriate considering the massive amounts of appetizers, dinner, drinks, desserts and holiday festivities that area being planned in the coming weeks. My mouth is already watering. party planning is like hosting a webinar, Mad Men styleHowever, those of you that are responsible for the planning these event are probably on the verge of a breakdown. Good luck.

Ok, I kid. Whether you are planning for 10 people or if you are planning an event for 1000 people it's not all that different. How do I know? Well, hosting a webinar is like hosting a dinner party.

Step 1 - Start with the basics and plan one course at a time. A great dinner consists of drinks and appetizers (planning and promotion), main course (the live event, the meat of all your messaging), and dessert (an incentive or a call to action that piques their interest and generates momentum for future events).

The meat & potatoes - you can’t expect a webinar to go off without a hitch if you fail to plan, just like a dinner party flops without the preparation.

Step 2 – Set the table so your guests have a great experience and leave the party wanting more. Your menu and settings should reflect the guests you plan on hosting. You wouldn't serve Tofurkey to a group of hungry meat eaters and you wouldn't dish out stuffing and potatoes to someone on an strict protein diet (sad day when you have to avoid carbs during the holidays). The point being, you must consider the different “diets” that you’re delivering your meal (webinar content) to. Make sure that the message reflects their experience, role, interests and even pain points and that you’ve clearly addressed what you’ll be serving up during the presentation so that if it doesn't resonate with their needs, they can kindly decline (or pack their own lunch and just enjoy the company).

The meat & potatoes – if you don’t give your guests what they’re expecting or what you've promised on the menu, then you may quickly lose their interest and trust. Set the expectation early of what will be covered and deliver accordingly.

Step 3 – What’s a gathering without good conversation? I’m not talking about chit-chat or forced banter; it’s got to be genuine and meaningful. If the conversation is feeling forced, you may have the wrong guests at your gathering. So, how to do you make sure your webinar attendees are engaged? Prepare polling questions and interactive content to spur discussion and gauge whether or not they are in-tune with your presentation. Maybe even think of some questions beforehand to use during the Q&A portion of your web event to spark conversation, just like you’d come with some icebreaker games for a group of party guests (although sometimes the drinks help with this).

The meat & potatoes – good conversation is a must both at the dinner table and in the virtual world where often times your audience never sees you. Since you can’t captivate them with your good looks, you must rely on intelligent conversation so use insight from registration questions, polls and creative content within your presentation. I don’t recommend alcohol-induced discussion for webinars.

Step 4 - Lastly, don’t forget about the leftovers once the party is over…because it’s really never over. Just like a fridge full of Tupperware the following day, you’ve now got a webinar chalk full of content that’s just waiting to be devoured.

The meat & potatoes - think of all the ways you can splice and dice your message so it’s more digestible to the audience that never made the guest list in the first place. Maybe they just prefer a different means of consuming:

  • Cut up your recording into best practice sound bites
  • Embed it on your website
  • Post to your Facebook page
  • Turn the Q&A into a blog post
  • Put links to recordings in email signatures
  • Include it in nurturing or prospecting emails that speak to that particular pain point
  • Tweet, tweet, tweet

So, tweak your viewpoint next time you map out a webinar. Breakdown each part of the planning process just like you would for a dinner gathering. If you’re a master party planner then we’d like to hear how you work your magic. Most epicureans don’t dish out their secret recipes, but here’s one that I think could be a hit at your next event. Cheers!
 


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