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10 Steps You Need to Master When Planning a Webcast

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If you are new to the world of webcasts, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when you sit down to plan.  And if you become lost in all the details, you can easily overlook vital steps which are essential to success.  That’s why the best approach is to break it down.  This simple 10-step procedure for planning and executing a powerful webcast can streamline the process and set you up for success.

 

1. Schedule the webcast at least three weeks in advance.

Never take a rushed approach to webcasting.  It is important to give yourself at least three weeks.  Depending on the event, you may need more time to prepare and achieve the best results.  There are several key reasons to give yourself this extra time.  First, it allows you to plan a better session and pull together all the resources you need.  Participants can always tell when a presentation has been rushed and speakers haven’t practiced.  Second, it offers you more time to promote your event and garner more interest.  Third, it allows potential attendees more time to make room in their schedules for your webcast, boosting attendance and participation.

2. Have a planning call with the speaker three weeks in advance.

As part of your planning process, be sure to touch base with your speaker(s).  Discuss the subjects to be covered, the timing for the presentation, and the schedule for the event.  The last thing you want is a speaker who will pull out at the last minute because of scheduling or who can’t perform to your expectations.  Follow up on the call by sending over a written document with your expectations for the speaker, best practices, and deadlines.  Talk about who the audience will be, the format of the session, and how the webcasting platform works.

3. Create an informative registration page.

After the planning call it is important to create and publish a clean and informative registration page for attendees to visit leading up to the presentation. Here attendees will learn information about the speakers and the overall message that will be shared during the webcast. Adding additional links to social media can help spread the word and increase audience attendance at your webcast.

4. Publish the webcast two weeks in advance and start promoting.

Two weeks before the day you plan to go live, get your webcast posted with the title, abstract, and speaker information.  That way you can start promoting the event and your attendees can learn a little bit about what to expect during the webcast Promote your event across social media channels and send out emails to your newsletter subscribers.  Reaching out early to potential attendees shows courtesy and gives them the best chance to block out time to attend your webcast. Most attendees will register a week in advance to an upcoming webcast so giving them plenty of time will ensure they make your webcast a priority. Remember to target people who have already demonstrated an interest or attended previous events, and also ask your speakers to promote the event to their networks.  If you host regular sessions, always mention your upcoming events as you close your webcasts, and update your site with banners supporting your webcasts, if applicable.

5. Finalize and upload all content to your webcast.

Do not wait until the last minute to upload your content.  Do it as soon as you have finalized it, preferably at least 48 hours before the live event. This includes your slides, surveys, polls, calls to action, documents, links, and any other materials you have prepared in advance.  By uploading this material ahead of time, you can use it during the dry run, which will help you establish pacing and flow. This in turn helps the speakers to understand where they fit into the presentation.

6. Upload finalized speaker content.

You may wish to give your speaker extra time to prepare his or her content, but make sure all of the speaker content is finalized and uploaded at least 24 hours before the presentation.  Make sure it is uploaded properly before the dry run and that polling questions have been converted to active slides.

Practice your webcast for pacing

 

7. Do at least one dry run.

A dry run is like a dress rehearsal.  It gives your speakers and others involved in your webcast a chance to run everything through and make sure that there are no issues with content, pacing, or any other technology you are integrating into your presentation.  If there are, you have time to troubleshoot.  It is best to do the dry run 48 to 72 hours in advance—or earlier, if time allows.  Particularly elaborate presentations with different speakers may require multiple dry runs. This is also a great time to develop and practice contingency plans.

8. Deliver the live webcast.

It’s the big day!  All speakers should be logged into the webcasting platform at least 30 minutes before the start time of the event.  The engineer should log on at least 45 minutes early and double check all the content is formatted and working correctly.  Then it is time for the pre-call and the webcast itself.  The engineer will need to monitor the event as it unfolds, ensuring that all elements display and the timing unfolds as scheduled.  If something goes wrong, it will be the engineer’s job to troubleshoot and enact contingency plans to cover for mistakes.

9.Follow up with a post-webcast debrief.

Your work is not complete after the webcast is over and your participants log off.  Follow up with the speakers and other members of your team to talk about speaker performance, the results of surveys and polls, data on user attendance and engagement, Q&A discussions, and other aspects of the presentation.  Look for areas where you could improve in the future, and also identify strong points in the presentation

10. Take time to thank your audience.

Take the time to thank your participants for attending and gather any other feedback or questions they may have. If you plan on creating more webcasts on a schedule you can inform your attendees of upcoming events in the near future.

Become a master webcast planner

Following these 10 steps can help you to stay organized and focused when you are planning your presentations. A great webcast encompasses an entire process, not simply the main event.  The live event is the culmination of all the effort that goes on behind the scenes.  A follow-up meeting is just as essential to the process, because it helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and begin the planning stages for your future presentations.  With time and practice, you will be delivering exciting, engaging, and more powerful webcasts!

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