Key learnings from organizing webinars
The situation of the last month has drastically increased the demand to work virtually. In this article we want to share our experience and learnings using webinars with external participants as an example.
Suddenly, we - like the whole industry as well as all other parts of society - mainly had the online format to meet and offer events like seminars, customer forums or conferences.
Shortly after the beginning of the pandemic Lufthansa Systems started as one immediate reaction to the new situation an online webinar series called "Let's talk about IT" with the intention to connect with our customers and all friends of the industry during the challenging times of the crises. Share experiences, inspire, and give support by fostering the cross-company communication.
So, here is what we learned with this online event series – we broke it down into 4 categories:
- Of course, we want to attract many viewers for our webinars. Especially with the staggering number of webinars and online events out there, we put a growing effort into the question “Why should I attend?” and “What´s in for me?”
- We decide on the event type based on the target group and the content (i.e. webinar, panel discussion, conference, workshop). For example, a webinar for clients will be quite different from webinars that are open to everyone, because you can provide far more detail since the audience is already familiar with your service or product.
- When planning the speakers, we try to have an interesting mix of experts within and outside the company, who will pass on their expertise in an interesting way. Having a moderator has proven to be very helpful as he/she acts as a “bridge” extending from the experts to the audience. Also, it is important to have a plan B in your back pocket in case a speaker is unable to attend at short notice.
- The content to be presented should be vivid and therefore not reduced to a slideshow, with a lot of text. The audience will be able to concentrate on what is being said and not distracted by reading the slides. We include an agenda slide at the beginning of the webinar, for the participants to have oversight on what to expect. Many listeners might be doing other work on the side and concentrate only on the parts they consider relevant for them. That is why it is a good idea to list key takeaways between the chapters and at the end of the webinar.
- In every event it is a big challenge to keep the attention high – even more so in virtual communication. We try to deal with this by encouraging dialogue between the speakers and the moderator, asking questions, referring to questions from the audience (e.g. from chat box) and having frequent exchanges between speaker and moderator, creating small interruptions through "mini summaries". This gives the listeners time to “digest” the information provided.
- For us, webinars of 1h have proven to be a good duration with about 30 minutes presentation of the topic and 20 minutes for the questions of the participants. Since the attendees may have planned meetings ater the webinar, we think it is advisable not to exceed the webinars ending time.
- Everyone benefits from rehearsals before the webinar. In our experience, it is always recommended to practice with all participating speakers until everyone feels comfortable and confident. Besides optimizing the camera position and the lightning as well as testing the audio, it is also essential to familiarize every speaker with the tool. We usually test all the features we want to use during the rehearsal (switch between slides, hand over the microphone to another presenter, click on links, videos, etc). This way, unpleasant technical situations can be avoided.
- “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong”: We've had some technical troubles in our online events before and one of our most important learnings are to discuss in advance how to react should things go wrong.
- Selecting a suitable platform for the online event is essential, as this determines which capacities and functionalities are available to you and the participants (this also determines number of participants, screen sharing options, interaction possibilities, recording function, data protection, etc.). For us, platform choice again depends on the target group for the online event.
- Regardless of the location you are hosting the webinar from, office or home office, a stable and fast Internet connection is important. Since Wi-Fi can be interrupted for unclear reasons, a classic network cable is recommended.
- As soon as the location, time, speaker, data protection, registration line and lastly the reason "why" one should register for the webinar are clear, you'll create an event website or landing page to provide this information externally.
- Invitations to the event are typically sent via e-mail and/or via the social media event function to a predetermined or open target group.
- Furthermore, we think it is advisable to promote the event organically and paid via social networks. Also send a reminder at least 1 day prior the event.
In summary we find virtual webinars a good and cost-effective alternative to face-to-face events. However they will not completely replace them. They must be well planned and prepared, as there can be some obstacles to the implementation.
In the future, there will certainly be a lot more development in the area of virtual event tools, so that the look & feel will be even more sophisticated and allow more interaction.
We are happy to hear about your challenges and learnings. Please feel free and contact for the "Let's talk about ..." series: