This post is the latest in our series on scrappy marketing – an approach can help you achieve better results in less time.
Webinars can be run using potentially very little equipment, potentially with no more than a computer with a microphone or even just a phone dial-in for guests.
If you’re new to using webinars, there’s plenty of information on how to host webinars on our Webinar Best Practices series which will help you get started.
But if you’re looking to ramp up the number of webinars you hold, want to lift the experience for attendees, or want to save yourself time when it comes to setting them up, building an improvised webinar studio can help you become more effective even with a scrappy marketing budget.
Such an approach has been taken by car sales site AutoTrader, as the team looked to replace in-person meetings with live webinars. As described by AutoTrader’s insight director (which you can hear about on-demand), their path to running webinars took an incremental approach, starting by adding just a cheap webcam to their sessions, before eventually investing in a dedicated studio with top-notch hardware.
So what are the steps to help putting a basic studio in place? Below are a few suggestions that you can action.
Find a quiet room to commandeer
To help set up an improvised studio, look around to see if there is a spare room you can set up to help run these sessions. This will allow you to leave any decorations or equipment you have in one place, saving you valuable time as you prepare each session. For wherever you choose, make sure it’s quiet enough that your attendees won’t have to hear any background noise.
If you can’t get exclusive use of such a room, look at ways you can store any hardware or decorations in there. Get a small cabinet (ideally with a lock and key) so you can quickly bring out what you need.
Get a wired connection in place
In busy offices, wifi can frequently drop out, leaving your audience with a potentially sub-par experience.
Look to ensure there is a wired connection available in any room you choose. If there are any ports free on the wall, check that they work, as you may have to ask IT or building services to activate them.
A wired connection will give you the fastest and most stable speeds, minimizing the risk of any mishaps that could happen during a session.
Make a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign
Whether or not you’ve repurposed a room, you don’t want anyone walking in while you’re running a session.
Make sure you have a sign that you can put on the front of your door to make sure no one walks in unannounced. It doesn’t need to be fancy – even a simple piece of paper will do the job.
Get a dedicated camera – or at least raise your laptop
The latest Webinar Benchmarks Report showed that the use of video is up among marketers. It’s proven to increase engagement and help you form a stronger connection with your audience.
Getting a separate camera can help you deliver video that is better than that of a laptop’s webcam. Even with a cheap model, a camera can be set at a level that means you’re not hunched over and looking down at a screen, which might be the case if you’re relying on a laptop.
If you can’t get a webcam, try putting the laptop you’re using on a stand to bring it closer to eye level. At the very least, it will avoid the likelihood of making it look like you have a double chin.
Decorate on the cheap
If you’re going to appear on camera, it makes sense for where you present to look as good as it can. But it doesn’t need to be expensive.
If you have any pop-up banners that you use at tradeshows, these can act as a good looking backdrop to any session. Likewise, any other subtle decorations such as pot plants or side tables can liven up what otherwise might be meeting room that isn’t the most photogenic.
If you have a television screen on the wall, this can also help improve visuals. You don’t even need to put any slides on it – just a logo might help lift the visuals in your session.
Improve the lighting
Once you’ve got a basic set up in place, you may wish to improve the lighting to further lift the quality of your sessions.
There are a wide range of lighting solutions now available that are surprisingly low cost. LEDs and softboxes range from the basic to professional levels.
If you are looking for an even scrappier approach, try adding greaseproof paper to desklamps to add diffuse lighting.
Get better sound with dedicated microphones
Almost any microphone – even those on most laptops – will sound better than using a low bitrate phone line. But if you’re not very close, it can pay dividends to get a dedicated microphone.
Many types are available at a wide range of price points. From USB microphones used for podcasting, to lavalier mics that you can wear, to boom mics that are either standalone or attached to a camera, all can help improve the sound quality and lead to a more engaging session.
Experiment and improve
Whatever you start with when building an improvised webinar studio, don’t worry about starting small. Running webinars frequently will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t, and allow you to make gradual improvements that lead to becoming a webimaster.
For more ideas, check out our on-demand session on How to Engage Your Webinars With Video.