We recently did our first webinar, and here are a few thoughts on our experience that could help you rock yours.

We received a phone call from Andrew at Why Satisfy a couple weeks ago. Why Satisfy is a company that provides support and solutions to brands looking to better manage their communication with digital fans and facilitate smoother customer service on social media. You can check out their product bouquet here.

Andrew wanted to know if we’d be interested in joining Tesco and Conversocial (one of the products they offer) in a webinar discussing preparations for the challenges in customer service the holiday period presents.

After earning the Social Bakers service excellence award certification for POND’S in 2013 and a New Generation award for customer care this year, our profile in customer service on Social Media seems to be somewhat raised. Nice! Our webinar is below:

We’ve never done a webinar before. It was exciting and tense. Like being on live TV, except you’re sitting in front of a laptop. So nothing like live TV, unless your role is Guy-Who-Sits-in-Front-of-a-Laptop. Which doesn’t sound hard at all, now that I write it down. Before you do your first webinar, here are some points you should consider, and hopefully will help you knock it out the park first time around.

Do a Pre-Broadcast Sitrep

Make sure you, your team, and the other participants are all on the same page, have voiced your concerns, made your suggestions and above all covered the basics. Our pre-webinar run through covered topics of conversation, angles on Social Media and Customer Service, and potential queries we might need to address. Don’t be afraid to ask questions you think are stupid. Rather look stupid in the meeting than during the live broadcast.

What we failed to consider was that GoToMeeting, the platform we were using, might have to download software, which is what we were doing a frantic few minutes before starting the broadcast. Something so simple could have easily become a huge problem. It’s the little things that’ll getcha!

Make a Plan

Some people do their best work off the cuff, but they are few and far between. For the rest of us mere mortals, a little forethought goes a long way. Like making sure you have plenty of battery life in your laptop, a quiet place to broadcast from, and everything you’re going to need open and ready well in advance. Also important: pre-emptive toilet breaks. We may no longer be chained to the desk by a bulky PC, but no-one wants to listen to you wax lyrical on the convoluted facets of customer service from the restroom.

We had the office meeting room booked, do not disturb signs up, computers connected, empty bladders and a full pot of coffee. All systems go!

Have a Posse

The audience might only be hearing one voice, but behind that golden timbre there is a team feverishly (and silently) answering Tweets, following Twitter accounts, double checking facts, passing notes, and cuing up raw material for the panel’s next topic.

The speaker is only the tip of the iceberg and your listeners need not see the frantic action below the surface but it’s just as important. A webinar is a two way communication medium with layers happening at multiple levels, and if those aren’t feeding into each other, it simply becomes a one way soapbox. If your audience wanted that, they’d watch a video or listen to a podcast.

Jord’s focus was the panel discussion, while Drew and I followed the #FestiveRuch hashtag, kept an eye on comments and queries, responded to mentions and posted Gorilla’s own content, along with a few Tweets from our personal accounts.

Acknowledge your Audience

As mentioned earlier, your audience is not passively receiving your pearls of wisdom. Webinars are more than lively debate in front of spectators. A good discussion will spark opinion and curiosity. This is a positive thing. You want your audience to interact with you. This is why you need your support team, because while most people like to think they can multi-task, continuing a conversation while following up a reference to an earlier part of that same discussion is probably not gonna end well.

While Jord chatted with the panel, Drew and I watched for queries and comments, replied to those that warranted immediate response, and prepped Jord so he would be ready to take on queries and comments that would affect upcoming topics. This meant that listeners felt included in the webinar and could actually influence the direction it took through engaging with the participants.

Overall, it was a very cool experience, and something we look forward to doing again. Thanks Tesco, Conversocial and Why Satisfy for including us.