Members' Insights

How to Create and Host Successful Webinars: Step-By-Step

Dmitry Dragilev
Last Updated: Mar. 29, 2024

Anyone who’s experienced a webinar first-hand, either as a host or an audience member, probably won’t need convincing about the impact one can have. It’s no secret that webinars are great for driving traffic to your website, generating leads, and conducting live training at scale.

But attending a great webinar event and creating one yourself are two very different things. Whether it’s your first webinar or your ten-thousandth, the way you format and run an online event is just as important as the information being presented and the people who present it.

Start With a Brainstorm

Identify your purpose

To know what your webinar session should discuss, it helps to know why you’re doing one. If you can’t think of a reason, here are some popular types of webinars.

  • Training & eLearning: Help your staff, your customers, or the public learn how to do something. Giving a product tutorial can be a part of a customer success strategy. 
  • Become known as a thought leader: Host a deep dive into a topic. Bring together industry leaders, experts, and unique voices. You could even host a debate. The panel format lets you explore a topic thoroughly by bringing in different speakers to discuss different facets of the topic.
  • Launches and events: Celebrate the launch of a new product, help generate buzz, and offer exclusive value to those who attend. A virtual launch lets you reach a much bigger audience in a more interactive format than one that’s done in person.
  • Value plays and social proof: There are many ways you can use webinars to offer value to your customers and make yourself look good in the process. This value add doesn’t even have to be directly related to your product. Consider topics that are off-topic but on-brand. For example, Rolex and Patagonia regularly put out content that has nothing to do with high-end watches or fleeces but champions the values and causes they care about.
  • Drive content marketing and lead gen: Webinars are a fantastic way to deliver useful content to your audience and prospects. By asking for email addresses and other personal info when attendees sign up, you can use a webinar as a powerful lead generation tool. 

Consider your audience

Like any other content you put out, it’s vital to know who your target audience is for a webinar. Buyer personas can help you better understand who they are and what they want from the experience. Create a profile of a hypothetical audience member, including demographics and other information that might be relevant. Try to add insights into their work goals and pain points. You can then use this profile to tailor your content and marketing message. For example, if you’re doing a webinar on sales automation tools, your buyer persona might be a salesperson who worries about spending too much time on data entry. In your webinar, make sure to talk about how automation can save time by automating data entry.

  • Customer-facing: If your webinar is customer-facing, you have to treat it like any marketing, sales, or PR asset. Because that’s what it is. Every webinar needs goals, but the goals of a customer-facing webinar must be linked to your company’s broader marketing goals and sales targets. 
  • Internal: Suppose nobody’s going to see this webinar outside your organization. In that case, you may want to consider a different set of priorities, perhaps focused on things like training outcomes or compliance standards. If you plan to use said webinar outside your company, consider the future marketing conversation around it (even if the original audience is just your own staff). 

It’s often a good idea to survey your potential audience and make sure they’re interested in your chosen webinar topic. Put a message out on your social media channels (or Slack if it’s in-house) and say something like, “Hey, we’re putting together a webinar and we’d love to know what you all want to hear about…” . Then give them a multiple-choice survey or ask them to contact you with suggestions. 

Identify key takeaways

The unique value of a webinar is that it allows you to talk directly to your audience, at length, and in-depth, about anything you want. The best results for you and your audience come from considering their perspective. Write down questions and problems they might have; let these guide your webinar outline. 

Choose a Webinar Topic

Choosing a webinar topic is a crucial step in creating an engaging and successful webinar. Here are some tips to help you choose the right topic:

  • Address a common pain point: Choose a topic that addresses a common challenge or problem that your audience faces. This will attract their attention and position you as a helpful resource. For example, if you’re targeting small business owners, a webinar on effective time management strategies could be highly valuable.
  • Stay on-brand: While it’s important to provide value beyond your product or service, it’s also important to choose a topic that aligns with your brand and expertise. This will help establish credibility and trust with your audience. Consider topics that relate to your industry, expertise, or the solutions you offer.
  • Be specific: Choosing a broad topic may result in a lack of focus and make it difficult for your audience to understand the value they will gain from attending the webinar. Instead, narrow down your topic to a specific aspect or problem within your industry. This will make it easier for your audience to understand the relevance and benefits of attending.
  • Explore current trends or hot topics: Keep an eye on the latest trends or hot topics in your industry. Choosing a webinar topic that aligns with these trends can attract more interest and engagement from your target audience.

Pick a Webinar Format

Consider how you want your audience to experience the webinar. Your webinar topic will likely impact the webinar format you ultimately go with. Some topics are better as lectures or panels, while others lend themselves to Q&A.

  • Single-presenter lecture: You could use a webinar to broadcast a one-way lecture and then send a follow-up email answering questions that came in during the lecture.
  • Moderated Q&A session: Depending on the size of your audience and how well you know them, it might be critical to have a moderator whose job it is to screen questions. Audience members ask questions in the chat window, where moderators screen them and share the most frequent and unique questions with the speaker in a seamless format.
  • Live Q&A: Another way to do questions is to invite participants to go LIVE in a video chat with the host. This can be a great way to field in-depth, multi-part questions and to do demos. It also opens the door pretty wide for time-wasters, so beware of that. You may want to include a time limit for participants so you can mute or boot those who can’t take a hint. 
  • Breakout rooms: A good option if you’re covering multiple topics. For example, Working Not Working recently hosted a webinar for freelancers which included breakout rooms for writers, designers, and other groups to discuss specific issues related to their respective crafts. 
  • Interview a subject matter expert (SME): With an interview format, you remain in the driver’s seat while including an expert to field questions and add depth to the conversation. If you’re familiar with the topic you might also get involved, but if not, it might be best to let them do the talking.
  • Facilitate an SME’s presentation: It could be that your best results come from just hosting a killer SME and letting them do all the talking (we’ll talk about why this is a smart marketing play in a second). Consider this: The Super Bowl halftime show is sponsored by Pepsi, but the show itself has nothing to do with their product. Nonetheless, Pepsi gets plenty of benefit from being associated with it. Webinars are a great way for you to take a similar approach where your product shines by association. Hosting an interesting presentation by someone outside your organization is a compelling webinar play that too few businesses consider.

Assign Host & Speaker Roles

Introduce the following roles.

Host and Tech Host

In webinar jargon, hosting webinars means a couple of different things. The host is the person presenting the webinar, but there’s also a tech host (who may or may not be the same person) facilitating the tech logistics of the event. A host can mute and unmute participants and moderate the chat. You can designate more than one host, depending on your payment level—software like Zoom charges per host per month. 

Hosting is also a branding consideration. Do you want the headline of your event to mention an individual host or the company hosting the event? “An Evening With So-and-So” might be better for an SME or something internal, whereas “Company X Presents…” might be better for a marketing webinar. 


Discuss how hosting can be different from moderating, what a moderator does, and what makes a good moderator.

Guest Speakers

Discuss how to select guest speakers/presenters/SMEs to include, and how to invite them to participate in your webinar.

Set a Time & Date

Discuss coordinating with all hosts, moderators, speakers, panel participants, etc. to find an ideal time that is in line with other company or industry events/occurances. Mention being considerate of participants’ and attendees’ log-in locations/ time zones.

Create a Promotion Plan

Add more information to this section. Discuss how to create and promote a webinar registration page.

Nobody’s going to come to your webinar if they haven’t heard about it, so be sure to spread the word on social media, blog posts, and your newsletter. 

Develop Webinar Content

Curate new or insightful content

Discuss developing your own content for a webinar (use content from the three bullets here) or working with SMEs/panel participants to have them create their own content.

  • What do you want to talk about? Brainstorm the things you’d like to talk about, and consider what questions you get asked most often. Remember: If one person asks you a question, it’s probably on the minds of others too.
  • What are you knowledgeable about? What do you want to be seen as an expert on? Everyone wants to be a “thought leader” these days; a webinar is one of the best ways to practice thought leadership and hone your messaging. 
  • Speak on trending conversations. If you can’t think of a webinar topic, try looking at the news, industry forums, publications, or even Twitter. Chances are there are ongoing conversations and controversies, and you could use a webinar to weigh-in on them. You’ll find new webinar topics every day once you start looking for them. 

Build an engaging slide deck

Discuss putting your/your participants’ content all together into a visually interesting and engaging presentation.

Pick and Test Your Webinar Platform

If you don’t already have a go-to webinar hosting platform, now’s the time to find one. You’ll need to consider your webinar format when making a selection, as platforms will offer different audience limits, webinar tools/functionalities. Prices vary too. Here’s a rundown of some popular webinar software and platforms, and suggestions on how to pick one. 

  • ZoomZoom’s great advantage is that you’re probably already using it for video conferencing. The same features that allow for large video calls let you host panels with up to 100 speakers! 
  • Webinars OnAirA cloud-based webinar platform with tracking pixels and monetization options salespeople frequently need. 
  • LivestreamLivestream, by Vimeo, is a professional-level broadcasting platform. This is the way to go if production value is a priority. 
  • On24 – This webinar platform brands itself as “elite.” It has a lot of features, but it’s one of the pricier options. 
  • Facebook & Youtube Live – Facebook and Youtube both offer free live streaming options. Both allow you to save the video of your webinar to share later. Zoom has a YouTube integration that lets you stream your Zoom webinar on YouTube as well, reaching a wider audience. 
  • GetResponseYour SaaS-y option with all sorts of integrations, including a YouTube Integration. If Zoom is a video conferencing tool with a webinar feature, GetResponse is a marketing tool with a webinar feature.
  • WebinarNinja – Another Great choice for marketers, WebinarNinja features CRM integrations. 
  • LiveWebinar – is a nice alternative to the bigger brands which have tons of features and cost a lot. The software allows you to run interactive webinars as well as e-learning and training sessions with difference audiences.

Do a Dry Run

The time to be sure everything runs smoothly is before you have to do it live. Be sure you have the right software. Be certain your internet connection is strong enough to host a webinar. Familiarize yourself with screen-sharing, turning over the controls, muting and unmuting guests, monitoring the chat feed, etc.

Upgrade Your Hardware

Finally, make sure your webcam and mic are working and providing clear sound and images—it may be worth upgrading your hardware in advance of your webinar. If you want to run a webinar with your computer’s mic, nobody’s stopping you. But for $80-100, you can upgrade to a high-quality mic that will give you podcast quality audio. The Blue Yeti series is a bestseller and the latest work-from-home flex. Forbes called it “Probably the best USB mic on the market.”

Welcome Webinar Attendees

Discuss hosting the actual webinar: getting on early with panel particpants for one last mic check; remembering to hit ‘record;’ remembering to keep participants muted; fielding and sharing questions as they come in; setting a timer for 5-10 minutes before the webinar will end so you can begin wrapping up; promoting your upcoming webinars; etc.

Launch a Follow-Up Email Campaign

Discuss sending post-event follow-up emails to share webinar recordings, and potentially adding attendees/registrants to a webinar email list to alert them when future webinars are scheduled/upcoming. Discuss other ways that webinar recordings and thought leadership quotes can be used in other content marketing initiatives.