Communication in modern times has never been this convenient, thanks to the advancement of technology. Among the various means that have made life “easier,” webinars is one of them. A mash-up of the words “web” and “seminar,” webinar is an important marketing tool for every business. Conducting or joining one is a great opportunity to interact with others and learn about your industry, establish thought leadership, and showcase your products or services. Studies have shown that integrating webinars in your word of mouth marketing strategies helps in generating high quality leads, and they can also help you create stronger relationships with your current and potential clients.
Having these benefits in mind, there is no reason why one shouldn’t utilize this tool for their business. But given the changes in social interaction, we must take note of the standard rules of demeanor that must be observed when interacting with others online. Here are some rules to observe when conducting a webinar or joining one.
Hosting a webinar
First, be sure that your registration page works. No matter how interesting your webinar’s topics are, people will not go out of their way to join your discussion if your registration page doesn’t work. In relation to this, figure out the information that your intended participants need to fill out. Limit the fields to capture only relevant personal information such as contact details and the schedule that they prefer. Your registration page must also indicate details about your topic and even the system requirements in order for your audience to know what to expect in the webinar. Allow the system to immediately confirm the registration of your participants. Remember that time is precious for your participants and it is important for them to know whether they can join the session or not.
Second, always be on time. Start and end the webinar as scheduled. As a professional, do not waste members’ time because you are waiting for other participants to join. Allot a time for your presentation and for interaction with the participants. Timeliness is useful in helping you focus and get straight with the agenda.
Third, avoid distractions. Capturing the full attention of your participants is no easy feat. As such, use the proper equipment to ensure that the focus of your participants will not stray anywhere else. For example, use a landline phone to have a better and clearer signal compared to a cellular phone that may cause static noise on the line. Avoid using speakerphones that might capture noise coming from the background. Also, turn off the call waiting features of your phone as well as the automatic email notifications in your computer to avoid distracting others.
Fourth, identify yourself when you start the webinar. Do not assume that your participants already know who you are regardless of the fact that you are a thought leader in a particular industry. In the same vein, do not use terms that are unfamiliar with your participants. Be mindful that they come from different levels of understanding or educational backgrounds.
Best practices for attendees
Choose a quiet location when joining a webinar. Be mindful that noise in the background can disrupt an otherwise smooth discussion. If it cannot be avoided, it is best that you mute your phone. Also, do not put your phone on “hold” during a webinar as it equally distracts other participants who won’t like hearing your “on hold” tune.
Learn how to use mute at the very beginning of a conference call or webinar.
Be respectful of others. In every webinar, there is a schedule to be followed. No matter how relevant your question is, reserve it until after the presentation is finished. Do not expect the presenter to answer your query while conducting the presentation. Be mindful when choosing your questions as well. While a webinar is a good way to exchange ideas, this is not the opportunity to ask obscure questions just for the sake of putting the presenter on the spot. Also, do not assume that you are the only one who wants to ask questions. If the presenter has already answered your query, get the permission to ask another one in case you still have other concerns. Lastly, use the private chat option should you wish to engage with other participants, to avoid flooding the message board with unnecessary messages.
Observing basic social etiquette is not limited to our personal interaction with others. Now that the social interaction landscape has significantly changed with the advancement of online media platforms, these rules must likewise be practiced even in online discussions and hangouts. To get the most of what you want when hosting a webinar or joining one, it is important to apply these standard rules of decorum. What other practices do you think are important as well?
Maria Elena Duron, is managing editor of the Personal Branding Blog, CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks– a word of mouth marketing firm, and a professional speaker and trainer on developing social networks that work. She provides workshops, webinars, seminars and direct services that help create conversation, connection, credibility, community and commerce around your brand. Maria Duron is founder and moderator of #brandchat – a weekly Twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding that is recognized by Mashable as one the 15 Essential Twitter Chats for Social Media Marketers.