Over the past few months, Webinars have evolved from a “nice-to-have” lead generation strategy to a “must-have” tactic. Webinars have officially been cemented in place as viable, convenient and cost-effective tools for engaging prospects, generating leads and ultimately lubricating sales funnels for growth-conscious advisors.
Back in early March, the marketplace was going through a rapid, involuntary pivot to virtual and we immediately communicated with our Hosts to let them know that we would have their backs through it all. And over the past few months at White Glove – through helping our clients host hundreds of Webinars – it’s become abundantly clear to us that certain elements have a direct impact on attendee engagement and lead conversion.
The Webinar opening is one of them.
8 Tips to Create an Effective Webinar Opening
When it comes to best practices for Webinars, there’s a lot of talk about when to schedule, which platforms to use, how to align your funnel, strategies for following up with attendees, etc.
However, people rarely discuss the significance of the opening. And in doing so, they inadvertently neglect one of the single-most valuable aspects of driving engagement – an element that ultimately sets the stage for an influential presentation.
But here’s the deal: We don’t think it’s fair to leave you in the dark on this.
We could probably sell a class or course on this topic, but that’s not our focus right now. We’d much rather inject you with some quick value at a time when prospects are primed and ready to engage.
So…we’re going to give these insights to you for free. It’s on the house, as they say!
We’ve pulled the data, studied the analytics and talked with countless financial advisors, insurance advisors and estate planning attorneys. In this deep dive, we’ve unearthed some surprisingly simple yet profound techniques that you can use to create a powerful Webinar opening that converts.
1. Start on Time
Starting (and ending) a Webinar on time might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually very challenging. Failure to adhere to the schedule can create a domino effect of other issues throughout the rest of the presentation.
Let’s say you’re hosting a Webinar that starts at 12 p.m. When noon arrives, roughly 25% of registrants are logged in. However, you notice that a few more are continuing to trickle in. The tendency is to continue delaying until you see the numbers stabilize and it looks like most people are there.
In theory, that sounds fine. But this delay is actually coming at the expense of the individuals who showed up on time. What you want to do is reward the attendees who were disciplined enough to arrive on time. They’ll respect you for this – and the latecomers will understand.
2. Introduce Yourself and Be Straightforward
Always take a brief moment to introduce yourself at the beginning of the Webinar. Some attendees will already know you – as they may have heard your name in the communications leading up to the seminar – but a quick intro never hurts.
The key with the introduction is to establish authority, be transparent and make yourself relatable. Here’s a formula that works well:
“Hello everyone and welcome to today’s Webinar on [insert topic]. For those I haven’t met, my name is [insert name] and I’m [insert title]. Over the past [insert time frame], I’ve helped my clients [insert impressive data point]. But most importantly, I love educating people on [insert a point related to the Webinar subject matter]. In my free time, I [insert hobby or interest].”
Something along these lines helps establish your authority on the topic and simultaneously allows you to connect with people on a personal level, despite being separated by screens.
(Bonus Tip: Show a picture of your family or your pets during the introduction. This is a great way to subconsciously say, “Hey! I’m a regular person, too!”)
Another good approach is to lead with full transparency.
One of our Hosts, Brad Gotto, likes to say something along the lines of:
“You’re here to get some crucial education, and I’m going to deliver that to you, but I’m also here to meet people. I’d love the opportunity to work with you in a one-on-one capacity. In fact, I find that, on average, [insert %] of attendees end up booking an appointment with me after the Webinar concludes.”
An approach like this is refreshing for many attendees. They know you run a business and most will find this straightforward opening appealing. However, this approach may not be for all audiences…but that’s the beauty of Webinars. You can learn as you go and over time, test out what works best for you. It’s all about iterating to great!
3. Keep Housekeeping Short
There’s nothing wrong with having some housekeeping details at the very start of the Webinar, but keep this part as brief as possible. Most importantly, all housekeeping notes should be directly relevant to the seminar topic. (Don’t try to upsell, promote another event or send attendees to a landing page. Stay brief and focused!)
4. Tell Attendees What to Expect
Attendees don’t like uncertainty or vagueness. They want assurance and clarity. This is why we highly recommend including a high-level “What to Expect” section in your Webinar opening.
Create a slide with three to five bullet points describing precisely what you’re going to discuss over the next 30 minutes. Attendees will mentally note these points and then check them off as you cover them. We’ve found that Hosts who include this notice a lower drop-off rate throughout the duration of their presentation.
5. Break the Ice With a Little Humor
If you want your Webinars to be enjoyable and effective, be intentional about making it engaging and endearing. Treat it less like a lecture and more like a conversation with a group of people around your dining room table. Here are some clever intros we’ve seen White Glove Hosts use effectively:
- One estate planning attorney has a habit of bringing in fresh donuts to his in-person events. When he transitioned to Webinars, his attendees kept talking about how much they missed the donuts. So, his team started putting up pictures of donuts at the beginning of the seminar to get people chatting and sure enough, it worked like a charm. It’s light, fun and breaks the ice.
- One trio of financial advisors uses a stuffed animal elephant named “Frank” to address the “elephant in the room.” They’ll say something like, “OK, let’s be frank about it…we’re certainly here to educate, but we also want to eventually work with you…” And yes, this ties right into tip #2!
Levity goes a long way towards putting people at ease. One minute of lighthearted humor on the front end can lead to a spike in engagement throughout the remainder of the Webinar.
6. Get Quick Engagement via the Chat Box
A Webinar should be a two-way street. The moment it becomes a lecture is the moment that you’ll start seeing diminishing returns. One quick way to generate some engagement in your opening is to leverage the chat box. Ask people to type in their name and where they’re from. This subconsciously conditions them to utilize it again throughout the presentation. Read the entries aloud and make personal references where you can. (“Montana! I used to have a good friend with a ranch in Montana…”)
7. Leverage Some Social Proof
One of the final steps in your opening is to establish social proof. You want people to know that you’re experienced and that you’ve generated results from past Webinars.
You don’t have to spend a bunch of time on this. Just casually drop in little anecdotes here and there that insinuate past attendees have reached out to you and are now trusted clients. (“The last time I gave a presentation on this topic, an attendee – who is now a client – asked me…”
8. Say These 7 Words
If you’re disciplined about starting on time, there will inevitably be some attendees who show up five minutes late and miss your opening. The best way to deal with this issue is to say these seven words: “For those of you just joining us…” followed by a 15-20-second recap that quickly lays out the agenda. Then dive in and get started!
How to Deliver a Powerful, Appointment-Motivating Seminar Close
The purpose of any good Webinar opening is to arouse interest, break distraction and to grab and KEEP the attention of your audience. You also set an expectation of high value, both during and after the seminar.
You may be wondering how you’ll jam all of this into a quick introduction, but rest assured – it’s easy to accomplish all of these steps in just a few short minutes. And you’ll be glad you did!
But if the opening is about getting prospects to buy-in and lend you their minds and ears for 30 to 60 minutes, the closing is the key mechanism involved in transitioning attendees into high-value leads who have potential to convert.
In Part 2 of this post, we’ll systematically walk you through how our most successful Webinar Hosts are facilitating powerful, appointment-motivating seminar closes that ultimately bring in high-dollar AUM.