There’s a reason why 62 percent of marketers use webinars – well, there’s a few of them. They’re cost-effective, convenient and arguably the most engaging way for small businesses to educate new and prospective customers. But hosting a webinar isn’t easy, especially if you’re new to the game. These tricks will put you and your small business on the road to creating AWesome webinars.

Plan ahead

Webinars require a lot of planning. First, think about logistics. Choose a webinar platform you can trust (more on that later) and get cozy with it. You’ll need to know it inside and out so you can anticipate any potential technical issues.

Next, consider your environment. Choose a place with zero background noise, because nothing will derail your webinar faster than a hyperactive shi tzu. Turn your phone off and test your microphone. Now you’re ready for your first test run!

Remember, a script is key for a successful webinar. Use it to guide you along in your test run, but don’t be afraid to make changes as you go.

Once you choose a time and date for your webinar, it’s time to get social. Use the social media, blog and email marketing trifecta to spread the word and increase engagement. On Twitter, create a hashtag exclusive to your webinar that people can use to make comments and ask questions before, during and after your webinar.

Tuesday mornings are the sweet spot, as far as webinar timing. But always take your own audience’s needs into consideration when selecting a time and date.

Speaking of questions, be prepared for anything! That means taking care of general housekeeping (like how to adjust volume and submit questions) at the beginning of your webinar, anticipating your audience’s toughest questions and preparing dummy questions just in case participation is low in your Q&A.

Finally, your webinar prep should always include the creation of a landing page to drive webinar sign ups. You can share this landing page on social and your blog to promote your webinar, and drive advertising traffic there too. Here’s an example of a webinar landing page from Heyo and AWeber.

Be mindful of content

Great content educates people by providing them with useful solutions. The same is true for webinars. If your audience includes lawyers in need of a document management solution for thousands of microfiche files (yikes!), they’re probably interested in the basics of going paperless. They’re not ready to learn about how cool your document management mobile app is. Not yet, anyway.

But they will be – if you remember your basic content rules. Speak their language, don’t be salesy and avoid jargon. If you’re introducing new concepts, give thorough explanations and real-life examples that support your points. This will help people visualize high-level ideas and lead to better questions in your Q&A.

A lot of webinars serve as how-to guides to help people understand how a certain product or service works. But even if you’re walking customers through the sign up process for your software, don’t default to sales mode and try to upsell them on feature add-ons. Your helpfulness is what will sell them on buying from you.

Like any content you deliver, remember: You’re not product pitching, you’re problem solving.

No matter what your webinar topic is, be clear on what you’re delivering from the get-go. Outline the main points you plan to cover on your webinar landing page so your audience knows exactly what they’re signing up for.

Delivery is everything. You’re the expert on your content, but your audience might not be. Pace yourself and stay focused on your topic. Make your webinar something you’d want to sign up for yourself. Energy is contagious – stay upbeat and conversational, and your audience will follow suit.

Follow up

After your webinar is complete (congratulations, by the way!), your follow up work has just begun. Here’s a cheat sheet for everything you need to include in your webinar follow up email.

  • Thank your participants.
  • Ask for feedback in a quick survey. What did they like? What can be improved?
  • Include any slides or resources mentioned that they can put to work right away.
  • Provide additional information on any new product or service you mentioned.
  • Give them a heads up on future webinars.
  • Make sure they know how to reach you.

You’ve undoubtedly delivered some killer content in your webinar, so think about how you can repurpose your most salient points. Think shorter, easy-to-digest blog posts that serve the dual purpose of education and promotion of your upcoming webinars. On social media, you can post lessons from your webinar with a link to your recorded webinar and/or blog posts.

While nobody likes listening to the recorded version of themselves (“Is that really what I sound like?!”), you’d better get used to it! You owe it to yourself and your participants to watch your recorded webinar with an eye for future improvements. Did you pace yourself? Are your explanations clear? Should you have allowed more time for Q&A? Always review, then refine.

Bonus: Webinar tools

If it’s a webinar tool you’re after, you’re in luck! AWeber integrates with these four tools.

GoToWebinar: Customized branding, HD video conferencing and archived recordings for up to 1,000 participants.
Join.Me: Unlimited audio and instant screening sharing for up to 250 people.
Fuze: 12 HD video conference streams for up to 250 people.
Meeting Burner: Mobile attendee support and instant screening sharing for up to 250 people.

With smart planning, actionable content and the right follow ups, webinars can be a powerful tool for small businesses.

Need more inspiration? Check out this recorded webinar with AWeber’s own Hunter Boyle on lead generation, and another from Hunter about maximizing your email marketing.

Do have any webinar tips and tricks of your own? Share them with us in the comments!

Read more: