Picking A Date Is Not the First Step in Planning a Webinar

In working with people who want to host a webinar I have found that the first thing they almost always want to lock in is the date of the webinar.

No. Please no.

The first step in planning a webinar should actually be honing in on the topic, content value proposition, format, speakers, and target audience. Once you have those things nailed then you can start to lock in the date.

Oh of course you’ll want to have a target date in mind, but until you solidify those other factors, don’t lock in on an actual date.

There are of course exceptions. When you have unmovable dates like a product launch, new white paper or study to announce, new regulations go into effect, or the webinar is tied to a holiday like Valentine’s Day. Then by necessity you will have to work backwards from the date determined by an event or specific deadline.

Examples of Issues That Often Occur

But in general, here are a few real life examples of issues that happened when you focus too quickly on trying to lock in a date first:

  • The focus then becomes getting a registration page up as quickly as possible. So then there is urgency to write a title and description before the speakers have even honed the focus of the content.
  • Speakers are immediately identified, but then as the presentation evolves and gets fleshed out you realize a different speaker is actually a better fit.
  • As the content and flow gets fleshed out over several calls or email exchanges, presenters realize slide development is going to take longer than originally anticipated.
Woman running and jumping a hurdle
Image Source: Pexels

Example of What Happened With One Group Focused on the Date

I’m working with an industry group comprised of volunteer contributors and very early on in the planning process it was suggested to do the webinar in late July. The goals of the webinar were still being fleshed out, the content outline was nowhere near finalize and agreed upon, and we had zero speakers locked in. But, “We need to do it in late July.”

Then a few weeks went by and suddenly it was late July and the group finally got around to agreeing on the goals and an outline of the webinar content focus and format (more conversation than slides).

And even then we hadn’t identified the presenters and then it was realized that due to summer vacation schedules and other factors, a target date was set for mid-September, roughly 45 days or six weeks later than original target date.

The point of sharing this story is simply to bring to life how key aspects of your webinar need to be fleshed out in some detail, agreed upon and then speakers finalized before picking the exact date of the webinar. To use an old saying, don’t put the cart before the horse when planning your next webinar.