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Nikita Semenistyi Ex-CTO 07.03.2014

5 must-have points for a webinar

Willing to share your knowledge or gain popularity and respect you may want to hold a webinar. And you will definitely not be delighted when something goes wrong while you are on Air. Yesterday I’ve done a webinar via Google Hangouts and I’d like to give you some of my experience I gained during it.

1. PR

To host a webinar means to talk around 30 minutes to several hours in a row and I believe you will not want to do this unless someone is listening to you. Therefore, you should first get as many people informed about your event as throw pillows sale. You should find groups, which have users interested in content you provide (i.e. JavaScript, Developers, Web Perfomance groups and other Programmers communities.).

However, even if you have lots of people registered for a webinar, keep in mind that only less than half of them will actually attend it. It is quite hard to argue with math and having around 90 people in the list for webinar, we ended with only 23 watchers. Most probably you will talk to just 30% of those registered.

2. Prepare useful content

Even before the start of your PR campaign you should pick the topic of your webinar. You should make sure that it is of current interest and you have enough knowledge in this area to answer any of the questions asked. My personal opinion is that you should be an expert in the topic you’ve picked and your knowledge should exceed the knowledge of 95% of watchers. Therefore, my topic for webinar was ‘Event-driven JS’, which is my favorite programming approach: I’ve contributed to popular modules implementing it and created my own module for simplification of dealing with it.

After you’ve chosen the topic you will need to create the outline for the whole webinar. I don’t think that you should create script for all the duration of broadcasting but you should rather achieve the condition when you feel confident during the webinar and know which part follows next for sure.

Presentations may be very helpful in this case and it is a good idea to have 5 to 10 slides in your presentation so that you could present the theory behind your topic with their help before moving to practice.

Webinar how-to Developers Hangout Binary Studio.jpg

3. Language

Choosing the language for the webinar may be tricky if you live in not an English-speaking country, because most probably majority of your audience will speak the other language.

If you feel confident in English and you know that audience is good in it too, it is the best choice for sure. What you however should do is look for synonyms and introductory phrases, which will make your speech more enjoyable.

The factor, which finally persuaded us, was the video we wanted to be recorded from webinar and it definitely had to be presented in English as it expands the number of people who can understand you drastically.

4. Video recording

If you want to record your webinar, you must be well-grounded for it. You are likely to face problems with audio settings for both input and output streams. Google Hangouts offer you stream to YouTube and the video will be available even after the stream ends, but for most of other platforms you will have to handle it yourself.

There is plenty of such software on the internet, here are just some of them:

Remember, that you will end up without video if you do not pay enough attention to it. During my webinar I forgot to start record of the first half and for the second one software failed with error.

5. Webinar platform

One of the most important choices you will face will be the platform for hosting your webinar. We chose Google Hangouts, as it seemed to be very promising. Google invested a lot of effort in Hangouts as one of the killer-features of Google+. Still I tend to think that this choice was a mistake. In the middle of webinar the broadcasting was interrupted with a message of server error. The most painful point was that there was no possibility to restart Hangout on Air saving the link to it. We had to initiate a new event and share a new link to it. It all ended up losing around 10 minutes and 6 listeners.

Another painful point is communication between trainer and the people who attended the webinar. There is Q&A plugin available for Hangout on Air but it just means text questions and oral answer which is not applicable for classical webinar which actually expects existing of individual person who answers the questions.

Possible variants we would pay attention in the future to are:

Despite all its complexity in organization, I believe that webinar is totally worth it. It will bring your audience new knowledge, you will get the satisfaction of public speaking and your company will gain high esteem for that.

Watch the recording of Developers Hangout: JavaScript Events

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