I LOVE webinars!!! I consider myself a “webinar connoisseur” because I view several webinars each week, either live or recorded. The insights that I get from these web conferences are unique and extraordinary knowledge that I can obtain in few other places. In the past week alone, I have attended nine webinars:
– Listrak’s Best Practices for Proving Marketing’s Value
– Search Marketing Now/iProspect’s PPC Strategy & Tactics from the Experts
– Zuberance & WOMMA Word of Mouth webinar, Creating & Energizing Brand Advocates
Webmarketing123’s SEO Webinar on Content Optimization
– Awareness Networks’ Maintaining Your Brand on the Social Web with Scott Monty of Ford
– MarketingProf’s Anatomy of Buzz with Emanuel Rosen
– Blue Sky Factory’s Shake & Bake Your Email Campaigns Into 2010
– Ion Interactive’s Advanced Landing Page Strategies for Lead Generation
– And just a few hours ago I attended MarketingProf’s Word of Mouth Marketing with Andy Sernovitz

Plus, next week I’ll be attending at least five webinars, including the All About eMail Virtual Conference & Expo 2009.

So, as an “expert” webinar attendee, here are my top five must-have webinar tips:
1) Easy to Learn: Unique, relevant content is the most important part of a webinar. If the topic is the same as everyone else is presenting or the webinar doesn’t help me solve a problem or answer a question, I’m likely to pass. If your webinar has a “sponsor” then you need to make sure the sponsor fits with the content.
2) Easy to Engage: Make sure that have an engaging, enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker who knows the topic on which they are presenting and can communicate that knowledge in an exciting manner to keep the interest of your webinar viewers. One thing to remember in “sponsored” webinars is that you’re giving implied endorsement to everyone there – basically from the user’s perspective you’re saying “this speaker/company/product/etc. meets our standards of quality.”

3) Easy to Share: Have the speaker’s Twitter handle and/or the hashtag on at least the opening and closing slides, and if possible on every slide (perhaps along the bottom). I would expect people who are interested in online webinars to want to share on Twitter and it makes it more difficult to share info with others without a Twitter handle or hashtag.

4) Easy to Find: When you search for a webinar title on any of the major search engines, you need to make sure that a) your site is in one of the top positions naturally or via paid search and b) the links go to matching landing pages which change before and after the webinar has been recorded.
– Before the webinar, you need a sign-up page that contains a simple description of the event (including topic, date, time, speaker, etc.) and asks the minimum of details to qualify an attendee. This may be similar to your email newsletter sign-up page and you may want to include a subscription to your email newsletter on the form. As long as there is content on the slides and not just a bunch of pretty pictures, I really like having the slide deck early, especially if there is Q&A time planned, so that I can formulate my questions and see if they’re answered in the presentation or if I need to ask during Q&A.
– After the webinar, you should go to the download page with the slide deck (possibly in 2 forms – black and white “notes” form and full page slides form). Also, include the Q&A chat thread and a link to the Twitter hashtag recap so you don’t lose that aspect of the “conversation” about your topic.

5) Easy to Remember: Don’t forget to Tweet about your webinar when it gets close! You should also send a reminder email and/or provide an “Add to Calendar” function so attendees will remember your event. Keep emails to once the day before the webinar and one email shortly (an hour?) before the event. If you use an Outlook meeting invite, make sure it includes details about the webinar in addition to the title and a URL to join the webinar so users know who is the presenter, sponsor, etc. Set a reminder for 15 minutes before the event (a personal pet peeve because I have a tendency to forget about meetings without them).

Bonus Tech Tip – Easy to Enjoy: From a tech standpoint, make sure your web meeting console/interface works across multiple browsers/platforms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been excited to attend a webinar only to cancel out when the slides wouldn’t advance because I was using Firefox or was on a Mac. Focus Research recently came out with a list of Top 12 Web Conferencing Vendors that might be helpful, but check with the vendor to see if anything has changed since the article was published. Also, test to make sure that everything is working properly – speakers and moderators can be heard and their volume is set to the same level, the slides or video works correctly, chat is functioning, etc.

If you follow my 5 (+1) tips, I guarantee you’ll have at least one happy webinar attendee – me! Did I neglect to mention something that you really like or dislike in a web conference? Please comment below to let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.