How To Host A Life Science Webinar

One of the most exciting aspects of our work is developing new ways for our clients to engage their customers. We’ve recently had great success helping our client Emerald BioStructures create a new drug discovery webinar series which has increased their visibility and generated high quality leads. We’d like to share some of the key elements for success we’ve found for life science webinars.

  1. Think ‘howto,’ not capabilities. Your company has a lot of know-how that can be shared without exposing proprietary information. Your goal for a webinar series is to position your company as an expert on a topic, and your viewers can either choose to work with you or to DIY the project. Either way, you will have formed a relationship with them as the ‘go to’ company on the topic, and the DIYers might change their minds later. You can start with an existing capabilities presentation, but change it significantly to point out the tips and tricks you used to make projects successful. Think about a presentation that YOU would take time out of your busy day to watch. If you’re having trouble deciding what to cover, look at your web analytics and see what resources are most popular, a tactic we’ve covered earlier.
  2. Practice presentation Zen. We’ve all been in life science presentations that are boring, have illegible slides, or go on too long. This simply won’t fly for a webinar, when viewers can easily tune out or leave if the presentation isn’t good. Less is more with regards to slide content, don’t go below font 20 on slides and include only one or two images per slide. Allot 2 minutes for each slide (trust me!), and use the comments section for your personal notes, rather than relying heavily on the text of the slide. Timing is important, we normally do two ‘dress rehearsals’ of webinars beforehand.
  3. Use the force. Social media force, that is. Even small companies can get attention for their webinars by building a network on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and then using it for promotion. It’s a self-serving promotion, which we caution against, but consider that the webinar itself has utility for others, especially if you follow #1 for the theme. Use the SEO (search engine optimization) force too–fill your title with important keywords (the web/Google analytics helps here too). Currently, Emerald’s upcoming webinar is on the first page on Google for the search term ‘GPCR webinar.’
  4. Listen before, during, and after. Hopefully you’ve chosen the right topics for your webinar series, and have a good network which has gotten you plenty of signups. When registering, ask what participants would like from the webinar. Solicit questions during the presentation (normally via chat, because microphones will be off for a big group) and answer them at the end. You’ll want someone besides the speaker to do this, as it’s just too much for one person. After the webinar, follow up with questions about how the webinar was perceived–this also gives you an ‘excuse’ to follow up on leads.
  5. Record & repurpose. These days many apps allow you to record a webinar directly, and we like GoToWebinar because of this feature (note that it only works on PCs currently, although we saw this recent post for recording GoToMeetings with Macs). You want to get as much mileage out of your webinars as possible, for example sending potential clients to recordings to showcase your expertise. Be sure to collect leads via a simple form to watch the recorded webinars, and follow up with them. During your dress rehearsals, practice recording and converting the files for web use so that there won’t be any surprises (and we sometimes set up 2 computers/methods of recording to be safe).
  6. Use the apps we’ve found useful. We’ve tried several paid for and free apps for webinars, here are our favorites (note that we are a PC shop–feel free to leave recommendations for Mac programs below):
    • GoToMeeting/Webinar. This software allows you to host a webinar easily and record it. See this detail about converting recordings to be used elsewhere. Note also that GoToWebinar (15+attendees) does not show your full attendee list to the audience, as we’ve seen some do, and GoToMeeting does as well.
    • Camtasia. It took us awhile to buy this video editing application, because we thought the free ones would fit the bill, but we think it’s worth it. You can also use it to record screencasts with or without Powerpoint.
    • Any Video Converter (free), Expression Encoder (free). There is some coding that comes with the GoToMeeting recordings which sometimes causes problems, and running them through one of these programs seems to fix it. Also, @GlennDCitrix is helpful on this matter if you reply to him on Twitter, and here’s another blog post from him for more GoToMeeting recording tips.
    • Audacity (free). If there are problems with your audio that you can’t fix in other software, try this program. Of course, you may be able to obviate this step by purchasing a high quality headset for the webinar presenter. We suggest one that connects to your computer via USB as sometimes we’ve seen delays with those that connect to the audio part.

A life science webinar series will give your company exposure and generate leads. The tools available these days allow companies of any size to produce them. Of course, you’ll need support from management and you’ll likely want R&D staff to present them or be involved. Everyone will benefit from learning how to communicate your company’s offerings clearly and concisely, and the recordings may also help others at your company understand them better.

Our advice? Just do it!

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