Webinars are a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool that allows financial advisors to reach a defined target audience.

Not only do you get the opportunity to control the message you are delivering, says Shahrokh Bahrami, senior information technology and web administrator with Excel Funds Management Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., you also can control the environment in which you are delivering that message.

Adds Subhas Fagu, partner with Techlicity Ventures Corp. in Toronto: “You are reaching pre-qualified prospects who can access your webinar from their computer or tablet at work or home, at a time that is convenient to them.

“This not only saves time for [your audience],” Fagu adds. “It also saves you time and money associated with hosting an event at a venue such as a hotel or a conference centre.”

When participants tune in to your webinar, Bahrami says, you “want them to feel that they are part of a live presentation, with a live audience.”

Although a webinar is a live event, Bahrami recommends also enabling participants to view your webinar “on demand” as a podcast. This feature not only adds convenience for those unable to “dial in” at the appointed time; it also enables audience members to review your presentation later.

Here are some tips for hosting a successful webinar:

Choose a compelling topic

The webinar topic you choose should be one that grabs the attention of your audience.

“It should resonate with their needs,” Bahrami says, “and deal with issues that have a direct impact on their well-being.”

Your topic should engage your audience and give them reason to contact you later, Fagu adds. Once you have chosen a topic, he says, research it thoroughly to ensure that you cover all the bases relating to the objectives you are trying to achieve.

Organize your presentation within a logical framework

Your content should be arranged in a cohesive and logical manner.

Provide an outline with time ranges at the beginning of the webinar, Fagu says, so your audience knows what to expect and can anticipate when certain topics of interest will be presented.

Keep your presentation compelling, says Fagu: “Try not to waste your participant’s time, as they are only a click away from something more interesting.”

Familiarize yourself with your hosting package

If you are running the webinar yourself, says Fagu, choose a platform that’s easy to set up.

“Become an expert on the chosen platform,” he says, “so that you can quickly resolve or delegate issues that come up when presenting – on your end as well as on theirs.”

Whether you’re using a new service or a familiar one, Bahrami says, “It is always important to do a dry run to ensure everything runs smoothly.”

For example, he says, the service provider may have made updates with which you are not familiar, which may cause technical glitches during your presentation.

Also, ensure that the subscription arrangement you have with your service provider allows for the desired number of participants, with the flexibility to increase that number if necessary.

Welcome questions

Leave time for a question period, Fagu says, but don’t allow participants to hijack your session with drawn-out or off-topic comments. A good webinar host encourages relevant questions.

“If the content is designed smartly,” Fagu says, “you can almost strategically dictate the questions to your advantage.”

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