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6 Tips for Hosting Great Government Webinars

New government webinar hosts, it’s important to remember: you might not (necessarily) be selling anything but an engaging webinar is very important.

Below are six tips for creating a successful and engaging informational webinar.

When I started my job two years ago, webinars never failed to give me butterflies-in-my-stomach nerves. Because I had never professionally hosted a webinar, I ventured out to the internet to look for webinar guidance.

There is SO MUCH literature out there about how to run an effective and successful webinar. With a simple Google search, you can be drowning in information. So when I was just starting out, this information was too much and it was hard to pick out the best nuggets of advice that I should focus my attention on as I began.

I had hoped that, over time, I would start hosting webinars without butterflies. Unfortunately, webinars still make me nervous no matter how prepared I am.

That being said, I have figured out some tips and tricks — and here are my six nuggets of advice that helped me feel more prepared and confident for each webinar.

  1. Choose a day: Not only is #WebinarWednesday catchy, but our customers know when to expect our webinars. This consistency is small but can develop a following and comfort over time. Have the ability to choose a time, too? Extra consistency points! We host our webinars from 10am-11am (we only serve Colorado so time zones aren’t an issue for us).
  2. Send the reminder email: Nearly every webinar tool has the ability to send out a reminder email, but not every tool will automate it for you. Make it personal and make sure it hits your potential audience between one hour to 15 minutes before go-time to rope people in. The easier you make it for people to be present, the more people you will get.
  3. Do a test webinar: This one might not be relevant if you are hosting and presenting the content. If you frequently have guest presenters from outside organizations like my authority does, they are going to need some time to play around in the webinar tools. Do not underestimate how critical a brief 15-minute test run can be and how many opportunities for proactivity you will find when covering the bases.
  4. Poll your audience: Because if you don’t they are probably sending emails or looking at a different screen. Polling your audience is the best way to get information from them but also keep them engaged. Bonus points if you can start your webinar with a poll that engages your audience but also helps you better drive your webinar to meet attendees goals. Three or so polls will suit a 45-minute webinar nicely.
  5. Create canned questions: Because there is nothing more uncomfortable than leaving 15 minutes at the end for questions and having nothing. Also, when attendees think that questions are being asked, they may be encouraged to ask their own or at least think that other people paid more attention to some fabulous material that lead to some excellent questions.
  6. Keep the survey simple: Keep it simple when you are following up with attendees. And remember, folks will respond more willingly to multiple-choice questions or prompts than to the generic “Please provide feedback on this webinar.” What exactly do you want from attendees? While some may argue that this pigeonholes answers, remember that the folks who were going to comment on the generic prompt will find a way to make the same comments in your specific survey.

If you’re out there hosting webinars fearlessly, or maybe just less fearfully than before, I would love to hear a few of your tips and tricks!

Jamie Desrosier is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She has spent the past two years in Colorado working as a Marketing and Communications professional within state and local government technology for government authority, Colorado SIPA. Prior to moving to Colorado, she spent 2 years as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia. She spends every day learning as much as she can and is excited to be working on her Master’s of Information Technology Management with a specialization in cybersecurity. You can read her posts here.

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