Monday, April 27, 2009

8 Hot Tips on Getting the Most Out of Webinars, Podcasts, and Teleseminars

Last week, I treated myself to 3 excellent webinars. While the content itself is not the focus of this blog post, I will give the sponsoring organizations a thumbs up here since they were all very good, and I will be blogging for the rest of the week on the tips I learned. The webinars were:

I devised some handy tips that I hadn't seen anywhere else for getting the most out of these and future webinars and teleseminars:

  1. Keep notes in a dedicated folder or notebook. If you are taking notes by hand, keep a dedicated notebook for all your webinars, teleseminars, etc., so they are in one handy place. It is annoying to have to sort through multiple notebooks, and if your notes aren't accessible, you'll never use them. If you are taking notes on your computer, set up a folder on your desktop and keep a separate file name with the name of the seminar for each Word document, so you can easily organize notes.
  2. Keep relevant sign-in instructions handy. Make sure to keep all relevant information, such as the date and time of the webinar, speakers and panelists, instructions for signing in, etc. If the webinar is a few days away, highlight it in your e-mail so you have the info handy, and make a note in your calendar as to the date and time so you'll be sure you remember. Some calendars such as Google offer the option of e-mail reminders set to your preferences, and I find these very useful. If the webinar is within the next day or two, keep a tab open in your browser and this should serve as a reminder. Although many webinars offer downloads of the event later, there are incentives to joining on live. In many cases, the speaker will offer goodies and access to great resources for live participants only.
  3. Formulate questions ahead of time. Be ready with questions! You're probably registering for the webinar because you have at least a few questions about the topic. Formulate your questions ahead of time, so you'll be ready to speak up on a phone teleseminar, or post them in a webinar using the sidebar that typically appears on the screen. You'll stand out among other listeners and participants, and get a chance to interact with the moderator and/or speaker.
  4. Read up on speakers. Webinar speakers are great resources as well as possible links to other clients and gigs. Learn as much as you can about their backgrounds, review their web links, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their blog posts. Also, make sure and download any goodies they have available, such as videos, e-books, white papers, etc. That way, you'll have some great resources and you can impress them with your knowledge of their publications.
  5. Pay attention to questions, and jot them down. I found it very interesting during my last webinar, that many of the questions that popped up on the "chat" window were very relevant and timely. The speaker would never have a chance to address them all, since they only have an hour at the most on a topic. So this is your chance to get some great material for you blogs, newsletters, e-books, and white papers. You know there is a demand and an interest because the audience is right there asking the questions.
  6. Watch for downloads and attachments. Typically, the webinar organizer will e-mail PDFs of the slide presentation that was used. Make a folder for these as well and hold onto them. You can use them to supplement your resource library, and make them available as downloads for your audience - just be sure you credit the company name and provide the context. You can also use them to add substance to your blogs and e-mail campaigns.
  7. Thank the speakers and/or moderators. It's good etiquette to thank the speakers and let them know the main points you got out of the webinar. It lets them know their audience was involved and informed. Organizers may also send surveys out to find out how valued the session was, and it's good form to fill them out. Thanking the speakers directly also lets them view your relevant web links and profiles, and your exciting Twitter profile as well. If you think the speakers are good resources for you down the line, ask them if they want to subscribe to your blogs or e-news. It's a good way to stay in touch without being pushy. Also, offer them a free testimonial. Companies can always use great comments, and it gives you added exposure on other web sites.
  8. Use Webinar topic to generate project folders. If a topic is on a new area, such as a new technology, web site, or application, and you feel you may be working with these tools in the future, make a new folder to keep on your desktop, or bookmark, with the name the new topic, and insert any relevant into the folder as it comes in, either through e-mail, blog posts, etc. That way you'll have everything organized. For example, if you are planning to write an e-book, save everything relevant to that topic, including social media links, so it is handy and waiting for you once you're getting started. You can use the front of your project folder to note any questions on the project you might have, resources, and a schedule and timeline for yourself and those involved.
Do you have any other helpful tips for getting the most of your webinars? Send them to me here!

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