The quick read summary...
Who's going to turn up to your wonderfully crafted Zoom session? Look at previous successful events and feedback comments to see if there's a market for your next topic and speaker. Try to match them to the demographics and interests of your audience. Advertise your next event at a suitable point in your event so it can be used as a 'save the date'. Then you'll need a really catchy title. I've seen poor attendance numbers as what could have been a sell out crowd, all because the title was dire and make sure the speaker you've chosen is up to the task. Get them to do tech rehearsals until you're happy, even if they profess to be a tech expert; you need the reassurance that all will be well. Marketing is key, identify when the best time to release social media posts and emails from your analytics. And finally, be prepared for complaints to appear in the Chat Box and have polite replies prepared so that you can answer promptly and fairly, which may win over your complainant!
Lights, camera, action ...
... or the whatever the equivalent is on Zoom. You've put many hours of effort to create an interesting event and now you have to make sure that someone will watch it. How can you increase your audience? Read these 5 tips to make sure you have your maximum number of attendees at your next event.
Top Tip 1. Who are your audience?
As your audience needs to be matched to your topic, choose your subject with care and not just because your speaker is a friend of yours. It helps to look at your audience figures for previous events you've run, if they are available, looking especially at the spread of ages and interests. If you haven't got access to this type of data, think about your ideal audience member and their current problem or concern.
The main thing is to provide a presentation that delivers learning for your audience so that they leave knowing more than at the start. If you provide a sales talk when they expected to learn something isn't going to win you any repeat business. Your audience members are more likely to return if they feel they have gained from attending your webinar. Prior to the event, plan how to distribute any slides which accompany the talk to reinforce the audience's connection with you and to reinforce their new knowledge. As an additional benefit, in exchange for their contact details, ask them if they would like to be put on your mailing list.
Top Tip 2. Attract your audience's attention
Having a catchy or interesting event title will help to improve your sign up rate and attendance. If you can keep it short, then that's proved to encourage people to sign up. The ideal length is 9 words or 41 characters but there is a school of thought that if you can reduce it down to 16 characters, that's even more effective. It's a tall order and I can't achieve it each time! If you can create mystery in those 16 characters it encourages your audience to find out more by attending your event. Make sure the presentation lives up to the title though or you'll have a disappointed audience on your hands.
Top Tip 3. Choose your speaker with care
It is an advantage if you have heard your speaker before you use them to ensure that they are right for your audience. Or do you have a colleague who could vouch for them? Personal recommendations are invaluable as some people are an authority on their subject but, lets face it, hopeless at presenting. Sometimes you can get away with a dull speaker if the subject is a highly specialist one and they are the best in that field. It's up to you to judge how your audience will react.
Top Tip 4. Tech rehearsals
Your speaker is tech savvy as is your team, why do you need a tech rehearsal? It gives you the opportunity to achieve several goals. One is to find out just how technically able your speaker really is. Their skills may not be what you thought and this would be the time to find out rather than in front of an audience. It also gives you an opportunity to quietly demonstrate a few skills if you need to.
Will your speaker use slides to illustrate their talk and if so what do they look like? If they contain just a simple message or a photo, then you'll be fine but if they've written out the equivalent of War And Peace in a font size that a gnome would be comfortable with, then now's the time to encourage a simpler approach and in a larger, more accessible font.
The tech rehearsal is a good opportunity to introduce your speaker to the rest of the team who will be working with them on the day. It helps them to feel more relaxed and a run through of the presentation will instill confidence and will eliminate opportunities for mistakes. You'll be able to suggest minor changes to their presentation to prevent it from over-running if necessary. The content will need to be attractive to your audience and now's the time to test that out.
Think about whether the content and level is appropriate for the audience that's being targetted. The approach you can take is either:
- it's relevant to your audience
- to provide a topic that solves a problem for your audience
- it provides a learning experience
- it's a popular subject with plenty of time for questions from the audience
A Q & A session is essential to keep your audience connected; they are more likely to have a positive experience of the whole event. If you can take pre-submitted questions, the audience are more likely to turn up to see if their question is answered. A good tactic if you can use it!
Top Tip 5. Market like a pro
Your audience will need 4 emails sent out to attract their attention, encourage them to sign up and then remember to attend. Plan the time to send out the emails as the most effective time to send them out is either Wednesday or Thursday at around 10 am although if you have time to test it, try it out with your own audience to see the most productive time for your own events.
Extra Top Tip 6. Have polite replies to any complaints you'll see in the Chat Room
Of course, there will always be audience members who signed up but who do not gain any new knowledge. If they contact you or use the Q & A or Chat Room, have a polite reply ready to head off any complaints but at the same time, allow them to still feel included. A possible reply could be 'thank you for your comment, it is much appreciated. Would you like to provide further details and we can bear it in mind for the future?' Or they could possibly be your next speaker on the topic!
And to summarise ...
After putting in work to produce your own event, you'll want the best possible audience. By taking a few steps to make sure your audience know about your event, is tempted by your offer and the sign up process is easy with few hurdles to overcome, you'll have a happy audience and speaker. If you can test a few things out prior to the event, experiment with the email advertising timings and two versions of the title and see which one is most effective. Use that one to send out to the rest of your audience to make sure that you get the best possible attendance numbers and the most engaged audience.