Hosting a Webinar with Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill
By: Calvin Cheung
Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill (SCMRH) has traditionally provided custom designed commute-related workshops to help our workplaces raise awareness in alternate commuting options through on-site workshops and presentations. These workshops are usually hosted during lunch hour and requires a lengthy time commitment for employees to attend.
With today’s technology, we’re able to deliver commute-related workshops via online platforms in the form of a webinar to eliminate the need to travel to and from the workplace. Employees who attend also benefit from spending less time and commitment to learn something new. This opens up a new method of communication for our audience where we’ve experienced higher participation rates while spending less time and resources.
For those not aware, a webinar is an online seminar, presentation or workshop using video conferencing software. Webinars are a powerful tool and one of the best methods to reach and engage a target audience. Let’s take a look at some benefits of webinars which attracted us to make the shift:
1) Saving Time and Money
Conferences, meetings and seminars can be expensive to arrange or inconvenient to attend. Webinars are a cost-effective alternative, as all you need is a laptop, phone or earphones to listen in. A webinar can also be considered an alternative commute option as it eliminates the need for travel and guests can participate at the convenience of their desks. To showcase an example, we hosted four cycling webinars between May and June this year and saved:
2) Live Engagements With Audience
Webinars allow you to share your screen in real-time which is perfect for PowerPoint presentations or live demonstrations. Most platforms also have a chat box and poll function, which allow users to interact and initiate ice breaker questions or Q&A sessions. We personally like to keep the audience engaged by offering an incentive for answering a skill-testing question at the end of the presentation.
3) Record, Rewatch and Repurpose
The true beauty of a webinar is the ability to record and send it to the audience to rewatch at their own convenience or to those who were unable to view the webinar live. You can also consider repurposing the recorded webinar by uploading them on YouTube and including the links in a blog or newsletter post for further engagement. Here’s a sample from our summer newsletter below:
Finding the Right Platform
When hosting a webinar, there are a variety of aspects to consider when searching for the right platform. As each organization is unique, not all features will be necessary for every workplace; however, here are a few general factors to consider:
1) Ease of Use
You’re more likely to succeed in hosting a webinar for the first time if you know your platform well. It’s important to find one that’s user friendly so you don’t have to spend any extra effort and time teaching other staff members how to use it. If you and your staff are more technically savvy, finding an advanced platform may serve you better by offering options and features that will enhance your webinar experience.
As most platforms incur a monthly or yearly fee, how much are you willing to spend? Think about how many webinars you plan to do on a monthly or yearly basis to see if it will be worth your investment. On the other hand, free webinar platforms also exist with features that can be comparable to paid subscriptions. If you’re on the fence, almost every platform offers a free trial before you have to commit to it.
3) Audience Size
It’s a nice problem to have a large audience, but what if your platform can’t accommodate for that? We suggest finding a platform that starts off with a large maximum number of attendees with an option to scale up if needed.
4) Recording and Playback
It’s common for many people to register for the webinar initially, but last minute changes to their schedule prevents them from actually attending. If there’s a platform that doesn’t let you record, you shouldn’t even consider it an option. Recording is a powerful feature that allows you to send the webinar to attendees as a refresher and for those who couldn’t make it.
If you’re not sure where to start looking for a webinar platform, we suggest trying Free Conference Call, which was the best choice for us. You can view a sample webinar we’ve hosted using this platform by clicking here. As an added bonus, Free Conference Call also provides a detailed report at the end of each webinar you host directly to your email. Best of all, it’s absolutely free!
Promoting Your Webinar – Keep it simple!
After choosing the right platform to host your webinar, it’s finally time to promote it. There are a variety of effective ways to promote them, such as email communications, posters, email signatures, and social media. To give you an idea, here’s a sample promotional poster we made for WSP’s cycling webinar series:
We suggest setting up a registration page so you’ll know how many attendees to expect and whether you’ll need more promotion based on registration numbers. You can use Eventbrite for such purposes as your webinar event will be added onto the attendee’s calendar and they’ll receive a reminder email automatically closer to the event date.
Choosing the Right Day and Time
To maximize the most out of your webinar, it’s important to choose a date that doesn’t conflict with any other events or meetings. We typically host our webinars at around 11 or 11:30am so that audience members can go for a lunch break right after. We’ve also found the middle of the week, Wednesdays and Thursdays to be the best days for hosting.
Although we’ve provided our recommendations above, It’s still a good idea to experiment with different dates and times and compare attendance to see what works best for you.
Are you interested in hosting a sustainable commute related webinar for your workplace? Let Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill help you! Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.