practice management advice
taking the lead
Extras. Webinar software offers features not usually available
in teleseminars, including polling audience members, allowing
audience members to post questions, and chatting with each other
and the speakers while the presentation is happening. Speakers
can see who is attending and which audience members have their
virtual hands up.
DIY VERSUS OPERATOR-ASSISTED
After you have selected a format, decide whether you want a
vendor that simply provides a Web or telephone service that users
operate by themselves or one that offers live support, such as
moderator services. If you use a DIY service, you’ll still want to
find out what type of customer support is available in case technical problems arise. Avoid services that can’t resolve your problems
quickly. People other than the speaker should be available on your
end to work with tech support.
Consider offering a test run a day or so in advance of the program
to make sure everyone participating in the seminar is comfortable
with the technology.
Vendors that offer operator assistance can provide some services not readily available to those going the DIY route. They
can provide “green rooms” for speakers to meet, introduce panelists and the program, and even moderate Q&A sessions. Such
vendors can assist speakers with audio issues and help audience
members who have problems. Oftentimes, they can also manage
the recording and postproduction editing.
After you select a provider, you’ll need to focus on marketing
the program. The easiest audience to target is, not surprisingly,
existing clients and contacts. I happen to use the popular service
Constant Contact, which makes it easy to send out customized
messages to people in its database. Other possibilities include
inserting a flyer about the program in client billing statements,
promoting the program on your firm’s website and listing the
seminar in free local calendars. Don’t forget social media tools
such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Finally, you may be able
to purchase mailing lists if you are targeting a very specific audience, as some industry associations allow advertisers to buy access
to their mailing lists.
Offer online registration for the program. Aside from knowing
how many people are likely to participate, having attendees reg-
ister allows you to capture contact information so you can send
reminders and instruction emails. Registering
will allow you to thank attendees for participating, provide addi-
tional materials on your subject, let attendees know about future
programs and the like. Your teleseminar or webinar provider may
offer online registration or you can use online registration ser-
vices, including those offered by Constant Contact, SignMeUp or
AFTER THE PRESENTATION
When the program is over, consider sending a personal email or
letter to each attendee thanking them for participating, providing
any additional materials or links to resources on the subject of
your presentation, and inviting them to contact you with questions and suggestions for future program topics. Evaluations can
be submitted through a link to an online form using a service such
One of the biggest advantages teleseminars and webinars
usually have over their live counterparts is the ability to record
the program and make the recording available online for people
to hear at their leisure. It may even be the case that many more
people listen to the program after the fact than participated live.
Most of the vendors make recording easy and will either host the
file on their site or allow the customer to download it. You can
then embed the program on your site and upload it to sites such
as You Tube or various podcast hosts.
A few cautions regarding posting recordings of programs. First,
make sure the quality of the recording is acceptable. (Hint: Using
a low-end telephone headset or a cheap computer microphone
can often result in sound that is less than optimal.) Second, make
sure you are very comfortable with everything you’ve said in your
program lest you create a You Tube “moment.”
You can also upload your program slides to SlideShare, which is
to PowerPoint presentations what You Tube is to videos.
Finally, there is a product that is taking the webinar in a new
direction. On Brainshark, webinars are not done live. Rather, you
upload your slides and then record a narration, one slide at a time.
You can delete and insert slides later and update your narration.
Afterward, you store your webinars online and can focus on marketing the content without the worry that comes with trying to
line up attendees or the risks associated with live presentations.
As always, be sure to consult your state’s ethics rules to make
sure you don’t run afoul of any applicable requirements, including
those surrounding advertising, solicitation and disclaimers. LP
BY GREG SISKIND
Greg Siskind is an immigration lawyer known for creating one of the first law firm websites in
1994, the award-winning visalaw.com, as well as the first lawyer blog three years later. He is the
author of four books, including the ABA’s first book on law firm Internet marketing.