Non-profit organizations can use webinars to share information about a new service or product offering or, to promote an idea, program or project.

The following are ten tips to help non-profits plan, organize and conduct successful webinars without breaking the bank.

1. Establish whether a Webinar is the Right Tool

The first thing is to find out if a webinar is indeed the right tool to get the message out. It may well be that a webinar may not be the appropriate tool. Three issues will determine whether or not you should use a webinar; the audience, the subject matter and time needed to cover the topic. Find out from other nonprofits and marketing communication experts what medium works best before you start planning a webinar.

2. Recruit the Team

Once you decide that a webinar is the right tool, start putting a team together. Three roles are critical to the success of the webinar; an organizer, presenters and support staff. The organizer will usually be the person developing the content, finding presenters, marketing the event, registering and communicating with participants, and generally quarterbacking the entire thing. The work of the presenter is to deliver the presentation while the rest of the support staff will serve a specific role, for example, a techie who ensures all the equipment is working.

3. Decide on the Presentation Format

There are four possible presentation formats; a single speaker, an interview style, a moderated panel discussion or an interactive session. Your choice of either of these will depend on many factors such as the subject matter, time, audience and budget.

4. Visuals that Wow

Your visuals, that is, slides, images and infographics should be expertly designed. Get a professional to work on the visuals because they can make or break your webinar. Visuals should not have too much information cluttered on one page. Keep to the rule of three where you have a maximum of three bullet points per slide. Also, make sure you have an introductory slide that tells your audience how to join the webinar, a slide that introduces each presenter and slide containing a quick overview of the agenda.

5. Select a Conferencing Tool

There are several dozen options out there and the sheer number of options can leave you feeling intimidated. To make the selection process easier, whittle down the choices by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How many people can the tool accommodate?
  • How much will it cost to conduct the webinar? Is the cost per participant, per minute or a flat fee?
  • How does the product handle audio? Do they offer a web-streaming service or a number for participants to dial in? If they are offering a number, what are the cost implications?
  • Do you want the webinars recorded for later viewing? What are the cost implications if you do?
  • What other features do you require?

6. Create a Program

Schedule a meeting with the team to come with a program for the webinar. Decide on the order of speakers and duration of each broadcast module. Also, decide on how you will take questions. Will you take all questions at the very end or at the end of each segment.

7. Practice Makes Perfect

Do a test run with all the presenters. The test run should cover:

  • A quick training or retraining on the features of the web conferencing tool. Let everyone ask questions and generally feel confident that they can use the tool without any problems.
  • A tech analysis to ensure all technical aspects are in proper working condition and there are no issues such browser or operating system compatibility issues.
  • A review of the program and the presentation to ensure it is arranged in the correct order and all presenters know when it’s their turn.

8. Make Arrangements for a Quiet Environment

Background noise and interruptions such as cell phones or people talking in the background should be avoided. So, you need to make arrangements in advance for a quiet conference room or office. Presenters will also need telephone headsets.

9. Set up Registration and Payment

Many web conferencing tools come with built-in registration capabilities but you can always register participants separately. You also need to decide whether to charge for your webinar. If you charge a fee, participants will have high expectations; your content must therefore be worth every cent. You will also need to set-up a payment method.

10. Promote Your Webinar!

Finally, it’s time to promote your webinar. Start sending out information two to three weeks prior to the webinar. If you have an email list, begin with your subscribers and then post on your social media pages. Tweets and Facebook posts should have a catchy headline, the date and time as well as a link to the webinar.

Well, that doesn’t sound too difficult now does it? With the success webinars have created for commercial companies, many nonprofits have joined the bandwagon. Not all are getting it right mainly because they haven’t taken the time to understand the basics. Others have jumped straight into webinars without first conducting a needs analysis to determine if a webinar is the tool the need at that particular moment. But, follow these ten tips and you will be well on your way to success with your first webinar. Once you conduct your first webinar, learn from your success and replicate it.