Webinars can be an effective way to connect with groups of franchisees to showcase new services or opportunities, highlight upcoming events, or to coach your new franchisees. The content of the webinar and the way you conduct the webinar impact the acceptance of webinars as a communication tool in your organization.
Before you jump into running your first webinar for your franchisees, consider the following best practices, learned from the school of hard knocks.
10 Webinar Best Practices for Franchisors
- Leading up to the webinar, send a reminder email twice -- once 1 day before the event, and another one hour before the event.
- Call into the meeting at least 15 minutes early. If your audience calls in before you do, they may hear annoying beeps and dings and not be sure they are in the right place. Call in early, and put up a slide that says the webinar will start at the top of the hour.
- Prior to the beginning of the webinar, have someone from your in-house team dial-in to make sure the phone number is working for participants. Have this person send you a question in the question pane to make sure this feature is working. Do a sound check.
- Use pre-webinar slides and announcements. Put up a slide that says "the webinar will begin in 10 minutes" so people know they are in the right place and when the conversation will start. Then update the slide as you count down the minutes. Also, make an occasional voice announcement before the webinar starts so people will know their audio is working.
- Let your franchisees know in the introduction how you will be dealing with questions. (Do you want questions in the question box, or tweeted in to you? Will you respond to selected question sta the end, or deal with them along the way? Will users be muted during your presentation? How can they request to be un-muted?)
- When showing a document or web page, or when doing a demo, try not to scroll up or down the page too quickly. A refresh takes some time to complete at the user's end of the webinar. Plan on it taking 5 seconds to refresh so that everyone can see your screen as you're talking about it.
- Run the webinar just like a regular face-to-face meeting -- with a strict agenda. Make the best use of everyone's time. Have a definite stopping point for the core material, and make sure that it's within your timeline. If needed, you can run beyond the scheduled length of the webinar, but make sure the core material is completed on time, so those who need to leave can do so within missing important information.
- My biggest pet peeve about webinars: close ALL unnecessary applications on your computer. Especially Outlook, instant messenger, Skype, Google Talk, and anything else that causes pop-ups to appear.
- Start 2 minutes past the hour. This gives people time to call-in, download the software, etc, without making those who were on time wait too long and get annoyed. Starting on time (two minutes after the hour) helps people show up on time for future webinars.
- After the webinar, send out an email with a link to the recording and the slides (if any) within 24 hours, and tell them during the webinar that you will do this. About 10-20% of your franchisees will email you requesting this information anyway, so just send it out. Fast follow-up helps you motivate people to take a next step while the webinar information is still fresh in their mind.
Webinars are an excellent way to maintain communication with a dispersed franchisee base, conduct training, and showcase new ideas or services. With a little practice, you can become adept at producing webinars that really work for your audience. And they'll appreciate it!