Hosting a continuing legal education program for clients can be an effective marketing tool for a law firm. Not only can the firm showcase its expertise, but it also gets a valuable opportunity for personal touchpoints with clients, all while providing busy clients with an easy, no hassle means to satisfy their legal education requirements. The COVID-19 pandemic has largely prevented firms from hosting live client events, and many firms have pivoted to providing webinars. However, not all firms have done this effectively. Below are a few tips to help ensure that your next webinar is a success.
- Be Mindful of Timing. Start AND end on time. Even though people generally are working from home, they still have other demands on their time. Nothing irks a client more than being kept waiting for the program to begin or having the program run long. Even if you start the program with background or housekeeping matters to allow attendees to join a few moments late without missing content, you should promptly start the program. In the event client questions at the end of the program threaten to push the program beyond its scheduled end time, conclude the main event and invite people who want to continue the discussion to remain on the call.
- Consider How You Will Engage with Clients. Speaking of client questions, carefully plan how and when you will take questions from clients. You want your program to be interactive so it keeps everyone’s attention and your clients get the most out of the program. First, consider when you will take questions and include that information in your housekeeping matters at the beginning of the program. Questions in the middle of a program may derail your schedule - so keep that in mind. Second, consider how you want to receive the questions. Are clients going to “raise their hands” or type questions into the chat box? Either way, someone on your team who is not presenting should monitor and manage the question and answer process so questions are answered and presenters can focus on their presentations.
- Be Relevant. Make sure that your topic is timely and relevant as well as interesting. Do your research and make sure that you are up to date on all recent developments. Any client that is taking the time to attend is likely very interested in, and potentially somewhat knowledgeable about, the topic and may ask pointed questions. There is no substitute for preparation.
- Be Honest. You cannot know everything about a topic no matter how well you prepare. Be honest if you do not know with certainty the answer to a client’s question. Clients would rather receive a correct answer than an immediate answer.
- Make it Personal, But Not Gimmicky. Nothing is worse than a gimmick that fails. Even though you cannot connect with your clients face to face, make sure that you are still presenting your full self and letting them get to know you as well as your abilities. However, be wary of a gimmick or hook that may not ring true with your clients. If you are sending webinar materials or promotional items to clients ensure that the materials arrive well in advance of the event so you are not left trying to explain why some attendees did not receive the materials.
- Make it Easy on Attendees. Your clients are busy. Make it easy for them to register or respond to your webinar invitation. Arrange for CLE approvals in advance, or assist them in submitting for CLE credit in their respective jurisdictions.
- Consider What Technology to Use. Make sure that each presenter has high quality video and audio tools at their disposal. This may require special microphones and doing a dry run at the time of day you will be presenting to make sure that lighting and backgrounds are appropriate. Because none of us can control the quality of our Internet connection on any given day, consider whether presenters should use a hotspot or hardwired connection to avoid interruptions in the presentation. Also, you may want to pre-record portions of the presentation to ensure that there are no technical glitches. Have IT support on hand during the event to troubleshoot for presenters and attendees.
- Follow Up. Thank your clients for attending your webinar and consider whether and how you will make your presentation available to your clients. Remind your clients that they can reach out with any additional questions on the presentation, and, of course, do not forget to respond to any unanswered questions.
Hosting a virtual event may never be as effective as meeting face to face, but with proper planning for both content and logistics, your event will be a success.