Best Practices for Successful Webinars in a 'Work From Home' World

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My colleague Mark Borstein recently led a discussion on How to Deliver Engaging Webinars for a Work From Home World, where presenters often don’t have access to studios and conference rooms, can’t be together in the same room while leading the session, and might struggle to put together the polished presentations that their firms – and clients – expect.

Mark's guidance is especially useful to lawyers and law firms striving to run successful webinars in today’s new working-from-home normal.

The topic is particularly relevant because the pandemic has forced us to move digital marketing from a place where we focus on promoting our lawyers and thought leadership to one where the goal is also to engage with our audiences. That requires increased attention to building interactive, authentic, and engaging experiences, where audiences can above all establish and strengthen their connections to your lawyers. That doesn’t mean that content isn’t important, but it does mean that your webinars must become more like in-person events.

How to do that? Mark identifies five ways:

1. Embrace the Authentic

One big casualty of the work from home world? Stuffiness. And when you’re trying to engage with your audience, to create connections and build trust, no more stuffiness can actually be a good thing. Because we’re all in the same boat: dogs barking during conference calls, neighbors firing up the lawnmower just as you hit the ‘unmute’ button, occasional audio glitches, and more.

Pre-pandemic, interruptions like those would have been horrifying. Today, audiences are more forgiving and understanding than ever. They see that you are a real person facing problems they understand, someone who is authentic and human, someone who can be trusted to guide them through challenging issues.

2. Think Outside the Box

People are using webinars in non-conventional ways – customer recognition events, networking events, online dance parties with live DJs (really!), and more – to engage their audiences and create experience that give customers a reason to connect with their professionals and brands.

All of these activities may not be appropriate for your clients and potential clients, of course. One idea that might be, however, comes from a company that decided to break up their traditionally hour-long programs into short-form, 20-minute presentations, then ‘thinking like Netflix:’ marketing and promoting webinar series that viewers can consume live or on-demand, in or out of order, on a content hub.

The bottom line? Now is a great time to think outside the box to identify new ways to deliver content and engage with your audiences.

3. Mind the Technology

One way to ensure that your webinars look polished, consistent, and professional – no matter who’s presenting or what their backdrop looks like – is to dress up your console.

ON24’s console is completely customizable. Not only can you add your firm logo and colors, but you can import images, modify the background, include widgets to create links to additional content, incorporate graphics and polls, and more, giving you a console that is truly an extension of your brand.

Adapt the console to your firm and your brand to ensure that your webinars convey the experience and professionalism that your audience expects, even if your speaker is sitting in her living room.

4. Focus on the Conversation

Another idea that that law firms can adopt – at least in part – is as Mark puts it, to ‘lose the presentation and make it a conversation.’

When you’re trying to engage with your audience, to develop connections and build relationships, discussions around the topics at hand are always going to create stronger links than PowerPoint presentations. That doesn’t mean that you should ditch the bullets for a free-flowing discussion, however, but rather that you should find ways to make the webinar more interactive, to get participants involved, for example by asking questions through a Q&A widget, so that you can respond directly to their specific questions.

Focus on the conversation to make your webinars more engaging, interesting, and relevant to your clients and potential clients.

5. Schedule For Your Audience

Our statistics at ON24 have shown that, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no longer ‘best days’ for webinars. That gives firms an opportunity to be more flexible with scheduling – every day is in play – allowing them to program their events for the days and times that work best for their audience.

Experiment with your start times. Ask your potential audience which days work best for them to attend your webinars. Then deliver your thought leadership when they are most likely to tune in.

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[Katie O'Rourke is Regional Vice President, Sales at ON24. Connect with her on LinkedIn; follow for her latest writing on JD Supra.]

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