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What to talk about in a webinar

When it comes to hosting a webinar, the main things to consider, apart from the technology, are:

  1. What you’re going to talk about
  2. How you’re going to start the webinar
  3. What your main points are going to be
  4. How you’re going to end the show

What topic are you going to talk about?

The answer to this question will depend heavily on what you do. The webinar does tend to lend itself well to those who do something that’s very in demand, or a skill set that can be taught to others easily. In webinars, you tend to find a lot of digital coaches, social media managers, people who know how to use software and those who can show you how to do things on a screen.

So what can you show people on a computer screen that highlights your expertise – and gives you a chance to include a pitch for your products and services?

The questions you need to ask yourself when picking a topic include:

  1. Can I show how to do this in a way that people can easily follow?
  2. Can I answer questions live? Or ask people to email their questions?
  3. Can I do this without having to cover the whole screen in tonnes of text?
  4. Is what I am about to talk about related to a product or service that I can sell?

Examples of topics that a few different types of business could talk about in a webinar could include:

  • The café that explores the difference between the origins of coffee blends and what it means to someone who loves coffee (and who then can sell their different blends)
  • A potter who shows how to make a simple DIY pot without any fancy equipment (that they can then sell if you want to get more advanced)
  • A graphic designer who shows you through three design rules that will make your posts look better (who then can promote their advanced design course)
  • A travel agent who does a guide to what you can do in certain cities that you might be considering visiting (and who can then sell you the tickets and hotel rooms)
  • A photographer who can show you some of the most beautiful wedding photos they’ve ever seen, and how you can replicate some of those effects on your iPhone (but who can also sell you a professional wedding photo package)

You see the pattern here – the best topics are those in which you have the expertise and have a product or service that a viewer can consider buying afterwards.

How am I going to start the webinar?

It might seem unimportant how you start, and more important how you finish, but the reality is that a poor, disorganised start can lead to a very quick and very early drop off in viewers.

I recently attended a conference where the opening speaker, the organiser of the conference, was a mess on stage. She proceeded to spend 15 minutes talking about herself, the fact that she had been organising the conference for years and then spent what seemed like an eternity heaping praise on her sponsors, throwing in a few references that only the sponsors would understand. This opening utterly ignored the 500-plus people who were in attendance and why they were there. It was indulgent, self-absorbed and felt narcissistic. Which I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be.  The whole opening was such a mess of poor presentation and even worse tone-deaf content that it set the tone for the entire day.

Each speaker followed the same pattern. Open up by talking about themselves, telling their story, dropping in references to events, campaigns and cultural moments that had occurred in other countries, other cities or in obscure corners of the world and at some point deliver some value that was lost in amongst the need to talk about themselves.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. If you don’t have a solid plan on how to start your webinar, you’ll get lost in self-absorbed mush.

The plan I use is:

  1. Immediately start with an inspirational quote to swap the focus of the brain from the logical left brain to the creative and receptive right brand.
  2. Then show what’s in it for the attendee with a short list of what they’re going to learn today. This reassures them that they’re on the right webinar for the right reasons.
  3. Now I mention who I’m presented the webinar for, or any sponsors.
  4. Finally I spend no more than 30 seconds introducing myself to establish my authority
  5. Now I immediately get into the content.

Most webinars today start with a long introduction of who the presenter is. It goes straight into “look at me” before stating “here’s what’s in this for you.” When you flip the script to honour your attendees before positioning yourself, you put your attendees in a state of receptivity. You’ve given them a dose of inspiration, then a dose of dopamine from talking about them, then they are in a better state of mind to learn – and yes, hear about who you are.

What are my points going to be?

Having a set of points to deliver will keep you on topic and on track. It’ll also keep you on time. We rarely have the patience to be in a webinar for more than around an hour. Some can do 2 hours, but it’s a stretch.

So go in with a plan of what each point is that you want to make. And keep those points to three. There’s something about the number three. It is a comfortable number. If someone lists 10 points that you are going to learn about, it feels overwhelming. It feels like this webinar is going to be very, very long.

Trust me, three main points are the sweet spot. Four if you must (because I used four in this article and episode) but really three is in the Goldilocks zone.

How are you going to end the webinar?

The ending, if not planned, can be a disaster. At that same conference I mentioned earlier, I was in one session where the presentation ended so abruptly in the middle of a point, that it was jarring. I was sitting there waiting for a conclusion, but none came.

The best way to end a webinar is to repeat your main points and then give your attendee the next steps to take.

For example, the end of this article or episode would be basically something like;

Before we part ways, let’s look at what you’ve learned today.

First, it’s important to pick an appropriate topic to talk about, after all, you’re the expert in the call.

Secondly, know how to start your webinar in a way that sets your attendees up to be inspired and to be receptive to learning.

Then, keep your main points to three big ideas that are of use to your attendees.

Now, make sure you run a short summary of what you just covered.

Finally, you can learn more about webinars in my one to one coaching program that will guide you through the right tools, equipment and communication techniques to get you speaking and delivering webinars like a seasoned pro.

This is also a great way, as you’ve seen, to end a blog post or podcast episode.

Listen to this on the Clickstarter podcast

Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Facebook Australia, a digital advisor with Treeti Business Consulting, an accredited ASBAS Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.