Categories: Event Management

Webinars in 2022: What you need to know

Summary: Webinars remain a critical vehicle for conveying information to large audiences. In 2022, webinar platforms are evolving to create more immersive, intimate and engaging virtual event experiences.

The need for virtual meetings continues to rise along with the expectations of attendees. As such, webinars are perhaps more important than ever, and webinar solutions are becoming much more sophisticated and engaging, not to mention scalable to hundreds of thousands of people. According to some analysts, the overall webcast market is expected to reach a value of 800 million by 2023.

Here’s what you need to know to stay on top of your webinar game.

Contents:

Webinars are increasing in popularity

The benefits of webinars vs. in-person events

Webinar best practices for 2022

Webinar trends to expect in 2022

Top 10 uses and topics for webinars

What makes a great webinar software solution?

Webinars, the adapted, 21st century take on seminars, have become a go-to tool for communicating all kinds of things. If you never attended a webinar pre-2020, odds are you have now. These virtual presentations tackle topics across all industries and interests.

If you want to pick up a new skill, hone your leadership chops, or learn more about a specific discipline—there’s a webinar for that. Or perhaps you’ve tuned in because you were looking to understand a vendor’s offerings or wanted to hear from thought leaders about the latest trends in your field.

On the flip side, if you were a webinar host you may have been looking to expand your audience reach, drive qualified leads for your business, or provide training to your internal teams.

In the past two years, webinars have become a more immersive form of virtual learning, with webinar platform vendors rolling out various features so that attendees can better engage with the material, the speakers, and fellow attendees. Frequent webinar watchers and makers may have already noticed the evolution of the webinar platform from a basic one-directional form of communication to something altogether more engaging and interactive.

After all, the true markers of a successful webinar solely revolve around just that—how many people register, attend, interact with polls, post questions, and stay engaged until the very end. No tree falls more silently than a webinar with low or no participation.

Webinars are increasing in popularity

A 2021 study from Research Nester found that the global webinar and webcast market is expected to expand 7.6% from 2016 to 2023. The market was valued at 547 million USD in 2015 and is estimated to reach 800 million USD by 2023.

Of course, the shift from in-person events to virtual events as a result of the pandemic have contributed to their increasing importance. Pre-pandemic, many companies were experiencing the value of hosting virtual events. But the pace of their adoption grew rapidly during the pandemic, with many now deciding to keep virtual events as a consistent part of their event strategy.

To help you stay ahead of the curve, we’re going to take you through the benefits of webinars, cover the best practices for hosting a webinar, and share our thoughts on key trends that we expect in 2022 and beyond.

The benefits of webinars vs. in-person events

An example of the Webex Webinars interface, showing the immersive share feature where the presenter appears on top of their slides.

From a viewer’s perspective, the answer can be simple. Webinars provide a concise and effective opportunity for learning from the comfort of one’s home. Successful webinars typically set out to answer a specific question or teach a specific skill. And if executed properly, the webinar attendee will leave with what they came for—which can be very satisfying. Once an attendee has a positive experience like this, they are more likely to attend additional webinars and further engage with the brand.

Not to mention that anyone can participate in a webinar without the need to travel. It provides a much lower barrier to participation. And more modern webinar platforms allow for true bi-directional interactions and many ways to participate, including through features such as polling, Q&A, chat, closed captioning, and real-time language translation so everyone can participate and stay engaged no matter where they are located.

From the presenter or host’s perspective, webinars provide affordable opportunities for companies to promote brand awareness, generate leads, drive sales, and educate both consumers and internal teams. Webinars offer an effective way to launch new products, provide training and education, and hold internal all-hands and town hall meetings. In doing so, webinars have the power to both position your brand as a thought leader and quickly bring together global teams.

Personal confession time: I’ve dipped out of webinars early, and there have been times when I glossed over and didn’t retain a word. One time—embarrassing as it is to admit here—I even fell asleep during a webinar! All to say: I am perhaps particularly sensitive to what makes a great webinar experience and I’ve been seeing some incredibly positive shifts in the last few years.

But no matter how high the demand or invested a viewer, there is a science—an art, even—to putting on a successful webinar. Not all virtual events will be a home run, but there are certain webinar best practices you can follow to make sure you get the most out of your webinar programs.

Webinar best practices for 2022

Webinars, like any form of communication, evolve from year to year. But some things stay the same, including the need for good content and an engaging speaker. Here are some additional webinar best practices to follow if you plan to host a virtual event in 2022:

1. Set a clear objective.

Many active webinar hosts and attendees agree that you should opt for presentations covering a specific subject and avoid an open-ended or broad topic.

2. Create a webinar-specific landing page.

It’s important that you create a home base for your webinar. A specific landing page will offer a space where people can sign up and enter key details like their email address and phone number. Webex Webinars offers custom branding and themes for these destinations so that your viewers can become exposed to your brand from the very beginning.

3. Get the word out.

Intent must go into every aspect of your event amplification, including who is on the guest list. Customization is important when curating your email campaign. Take some time to define your target audience so that the webinar invitations are well received and your acceptance rate is high. When it comes to promoting a webinar, beyond email, you should utilize social media, blog posts, and SEO best practices to amplify your webinar signup landing page.

4. Have a rehearsal.

This is one of the best practices of webinars that isn’t new but is necessary to cover. It’s important to rehearse the content and ensure that the speakers feel prepared and comfortable. Webex Webinars offers a practice session option for all panelists, so you can go into any presentation feeling confident in yourself and fellow presenters.

5. Keep the experience seamless and secure.

A spotty connection and wavering security just won’t cut it. Attendees will most definitely drop off within seconds if they feel that the host’s connection is unreliable or not secure. The platform you choose should simplify the entire process for both the presenter and the viewer while keeping security at the forefront.

6. Make it accessible.

Let attendees participate in their preferred language with the addition of live interpreters and closed captioning options. It’s critical that all attendees feel as equipped as possible to receive information and engage with your presentation.

7. Keep it engaging.

Another best practice that is gaining importance is the interactivity offered throughout the webinar. Features like immersive share, Q&As, live polling, chat, breakout sessions, emoji reactions, and gesture recognition are all elements that will be considered standard to webinar experiences in 2022.

8. Enable one-click recording.

While webinars are traditionally held as a live event, you’ll want to offer the option for attendees to view the presentation on-demand later. The ability to easily record and distribute the webinar after the event has wrapped is crucial to increasing the reach and longevity of the content presented.

9. Send out post-webinar materials.

To follow up on the point above, it’s essential to keep the conversation going post-webinar. One way to do so is to offer an on-demand recording to attendees. You can also send out responses to questions you could not answer in real-time. Further, you can add the recording to your landing page and provide additional follow-up materials the audience may find helpful.

10. Report on attendance and participation statistics.

You’ll want to learn from any webinar event you host. You can use these findings to create more successful events in the future. For example, many people want to know the best day and time to hold a webinar. While there are theories and a few identified sweet spots—like midweek and midday after lunch—your specific audience behavior should dictate the timing. This is one reason why it’s especially critical to conduct frequent project retrospectives and even project pre-mortems so you can learn from your previous events and address issues before they occur.

An example of a register page when using Webex Webinars

We all have great hopes for 2022, and if that includes having a winning webinar strategy then you will need to stay abreast of new webinar trends. If you don’t want your webinars to be categorized as boring or unwatchable, here are four trends that we see taking flight in 2022:

1. Keep it snappy.

Traditionally, one hour is the recommended length for a webinar. And if you do some googling, that still seems to be the suggested duration. However, in talking with a few webinar enthusiasts for this post, it looks like shorter webinars could be trending in 2022. While the key factor remains the value of the content you are sharing—no matter the length—the trends point to shortening your webinar into smaller, more consumable segments.

Consider experimenting with formats ranging from as little as 15 minutes to traditional hour-long sessions and see how it impacts your registration, attendance, and overall engagement.

2. Bring in outsiders.

Today’s webinar audiences enjoy the various perspectives and insights gained from having access to multiple expert panelists—including those whose expertise was built through real-world experience with your product.

3. Enable on-demand participation.

Webinars are “live” virtual events that can be recorded and shared on-demand. In 2022, enabling on-demand viewership will become the rule more than the added benefit or incentive for viewers. Visit our Events & Webinars page to see how we show our in-demand and upcoming webinars.

4. Use more interactive and visual elements.

Encourage continuous engagement and keep people from bouncing out—or falling asleep—by offering interactive features as consistent elements of your presentation. In 2022, it’s more important than ever to adopt webinar tools that offer features like immersive share (where you place yourself directly on the content you’re sharing) to keep things visually stimulating and engaging.

Top 10 uses and topics for webinars

An example of audience polling options in Webex Webinars

Over the last two years, webinars have been used in new ways. One example is in the education industry. Most schools and universities leveraged in-person learning as the preferred and, in most cases, required method. But with the pandemic came the need for schools to adapt. Teachers had to adapt their syllabus and lessons. Students had to adapt how they absorbed information and asked questions.

Even today, as in-person classes have started to return, schools are not abandoning their virtual learning efforts. In fact, some schools are even expanding their virtual education offerings and using webinar platforms to better train teachers and staff. Kirsten Mortimer, a Webex user and the Technology Adoption Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, says that her team plans to do just that:

“The students seemed to take to the adjustment a bit faster, while it was [more] difficult for many professors to reframe their well-honed methods of instruction.”

In response, the University is looking to create a series of webinar tutorials to help professors through this process.

We’ll likely see more of those kinds of training tutorials in various workplace settings.

Here are the 10 uses and topics we see emerging on the webinar scene this year.

1. Education

As described in detail above, education is an area where webinars have proven to become a useful tool for navigating new teaching techniques and meeting inclusive learning needs of students and educators around the world.

2. Entrepreneurship

Webinars offer a practical solution for new business owners and entrepreneurs looking to learn a lot in a short time. These kinds of webinars can cover a wide range of topics, from how to make a business plan and the differences between small business insurance coverages to employee benefits and how to improve digital customer experiences.

3. Online and social media marketing

Businesses big and small, content creators and innovators, institutions and government committees alike, will all benefit from webinars that aim to teach online and social media marketing skill sets, whether for beginners or advanced participants.

4. SEO

Another area of interest that webinars in 2022 will most likely cover, SEO (search engine optimization) is a valuable lever for businesses and brands that utilize the web for things like building brand recognition, ecommerce and the overall sharing of insights and knowledge.

5. Technology innovation tutorials

Webinars offer a surefire way to introduce new technology and educate users about advancements to their favorite products.

6. B2B tutorial

Information sharing between business types can take many forms, but the webinar seems to be one of the best ways to communicate these useful insights.

7. Hobbyist how-tos

Whether you are looking to learn how to install a window or braid a horse’s mane—we bet that there will be a webinar for that in 2022.

8. Personal development

And outside of developing hobbies, webinars can positively impact one’s own personal development. We expect a rise in webinars on topics related to physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

9. Professional development

Of course, webinars can also influence one’s professional development. Beyond general skill sets like SEO and marketing, we may see people tuning into webinars to learn how to better communicate and collaborate in professional settings—especially as many of us adjust to a hybrid work culture.

10. Sales

Webinars offer a solid way to introduce a product and drive sales. The demonstrative properties and ability to record and share these kinds of presentations will continue to prove useful when looking to make a tangible conversion in 2022.

And a use that might not make the top ten but is still notable: crisis acknowledgement. Brands, businesses, and local and national governments are relying on the webinar format to effectively convey critical information. We see this trend continuing for years to come.

To recap, we’ve covered webinar best practices, trends, popular themes, and uses… what more webinar fun could we explore? Oh… that’s right: The best webinar software and tools that will support and amplify your stellar content.

What makes a great webinar software solution?

The best webinar platforms on the market continuously push out updates so you don’t notice how well they allow you to seamlessly scale. These platforms offer both an intuitive interface and the modern features and integrations webinar hosts need to deliver engaging, inclusive experiences for a global audience.

Today’s webinar audiences are increasingly empowered consumers of content. If the content and the platform showcasing the content doesn’t meet their expectations, they will likely find another content provider (and carry a negative brand impression of you wherever they go).

With Webex Webinars, you can easily create highly engaging virtual presentations. It comes with both the latest front-end features and integrations you need to keep your webinars engaging plus all the backend security and technical prowess of the Cisco technology ecosystem.

With the support of a webinar software like Webex Webinars, you’ll be able to spend time on what matters—the actual content and delivery—rather than worrying about the underlying foundation.

Webex Webinars not only offers top of the line features, but also an option to receive dedicated support for your event—no matter its size. Webex Production Services Team (PDF download here) offers that extra insurance for a presenter that is so often overlooked. The skilled Webex professionals provide a variety of support levels to fit your meeting and webinar needs. You’ll have support from start to finish to ensure a smooth delivery of your webinar.

Webinars in 2022 will look and feel a bit different, but in all the right ways. Fully equip yourself for webinar success by learning more about the virtual presentation format favored by so many.

***

Stay part of the evolving conversation by joining the Webinar Webinars community where you can learn from other Webex users and share your own experiences.

See Also
Interactive breakout sessions in Webex Webinars:

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Published by
Caitlin Ultimo

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