Does a webinar need to last an hour? Various webinar formats [lightning talks and more ideas]
Have you ever attended a webinar and felt bored after about 20 minutes? Chances are that the webinar failed at being formatted correctly. What could have been a quick 15-minute meeting turned out to be a long, drawn-out slog.
In other words, webinar formats can make or break audience engagement. If you plan on hosting webinars as part of your marketing strategy, you need to know how to format them.
While 60-minute webinars can be successful, they take too much planning for it to be possible to host them particularly often. They’re great if you have a subject matter expert who can give in-depth presentations, but if your goal is engaging with your audience regularly then short webinars would be far more effective.
Before we share 13 webinar formats that require less than 30 minutes to host, let’s take a look at the benefits of hosting short webinars.
Benefits of Short Webinars
Eight of the benefits of hosting short webinars are:
- Integrating short webinars as part of your sales funnel improves sales tracking.
- Short webinars are great tools for staff training — especially when teams are working remotely.
- Short webinars make it easier for people to commit to attending.
- You can plan more short webinars and appeal to segmented audiences.
- They’re easier to weave into your sales and marketing strategies.
- You need fewer resources to plan them.
- It’s easier to convince guest stars to present as they don’t have to commit as much time.
- They’re great tools for engaging with audiences regularly.
Now, let’s take a look at 13 short webinar formats.
13 Types of Webinars Formats
Here are 13 types of webinar formats you can host in less than 30 minutes:
1. Lightning Talk Webinars
Lightning talk webinars are short presentations about specific topics that only last a few minutes.
You can pre-record a lightning talk or host it live.
For instance, HotJar hosted a series of webinars about the user experience in the eCommerce industry. Every presentation was capped at five minutes, and each entrepreneur was only allowed to use five slides.
Kanban University also loves hosting lightning talks. Their webinars of this format usually range from one-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half minutes.
If you’re interested in trying out lighting talk webinars, consider:
- breaking one webinar theme up into a series of episodes over a month,
- creating a lightning talk every time you add a new product or service,
- using lightning talks to show customers how to use your products and services quickly and easily.
2. Product Demonstration Webinars
Product demos are effective sales tools that convert leads into customers.
You can use product demos to show your audience how to use your product or service in order to get the most value. Use tools like screen sharing and slides or demonstrate physically how your product or service works.
If possible, host your product demonstrations live so you can engage with your audience and answer questions in real-time. This also helps make sure that your audience truly understands how to use your product or service.
When choosing a host, look for someone who knows your products and services inside out. They should be able to clearly explain all of the necessary details and how to use them in the best way possible.
3. Tutorials (How to’s)
Tutorials are an integral part of the value chain. People follow your webinars because you bring them value. When an audience member can walk away from your webinar having learned something, there’s no limit to how it can improve their lives.
4. Live Makeovers
From home renovations to website transformations, nobody can resist a good makeover.
People love seeing how something or someone can make a complete transformation in appearance. In other words, they love seeing ugly ducklings turn into beautiful swans.
They also love knowing how to recreate transformations themselves, so you have to walk them through it step-by-step — that’s why this webinar format works so well.
To host a makeover, have an expert perform a live makeover of something relevant to your audience. To keep it under 30 minutes, choose something that is quick to transform or use a fast replay feature to speed up playback of the process.
If you sell hair products then demonstrate a live style transformation, for example.
If you’re an interior designer, demonstrate how to makeover a living room with just a few key items.
5. Ask Me Anything (AMA) Sessions
Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions, popularized by Reddit, give your audience the chance to ask an interesting guest anything they want.
In a B2B setting, the guest could be someone in a senior role who is well-known. For instance, they could work for a well-known brand or be a famous influencer. In a B2C setting, they may be a celebrity or renowned public figure.
But guests don’t always have to be well-known or famous. They could also just be regular people with interesting jobs, like a Google employee or someone who makes amazing cronuts. It doesn’t matter who it is as long as they’re personable and conversational.
To conduct an AMA session, collect the audience’s questions ahead of time so the guest can answer them as soon as they get on camera. You can do this by including a custom field in your webinar invitations that asks registrants what questions they’d like to have answered.
6. Chat Shows
This is another webinar format and one that is formatted like a night-time talk show, which provides in-depth information from a charismatic expert.
To conduct a chat show, you’ll need a skilled presenter who has a fun personality. You might also want to invite industry experts as guests to field questions from the presenter and audience.
Make sure your speaker and guests are fully prepared with talking points and questions so that the talk can run smoothly. You may also decide to encourage the audience to participate live via Q&As, polls, and giving feedback.
When hosting your chat, consider holding a podcast interview or going live on camera.
7. Host Virtual Office Hours
Virtual office hours are a thoughtful way to provide value to your VIP customers.
Virtual office hours mean giving customers exclusive access to a company expert who will answer their most burning questions.
This is a great format to use when your business is going through major changes and your best customers are wondering how they will be affected by those changes.
It’s also a great format to use if:
- you have just launched a new product or service,
- you have just hired a new CEO,
- you sell complex products and services (like coding tools).
When marketing virtual office hours, ask registrants to either come ready with their questions or submit them when they register.
8. Live Guest Interviews
Live guest interviews are when you question a guest on-air.
While several of our previous recommendations included casual conversations, live guest interviews are more formal. Similar to interview-style podcasts, these conversations work best with a skilled host who knows how to ask good questions.
Before hosting a live interview, prepare a thorough list of questions that you know your audience will be able to relate to. You’ll also need to research your guest so that you can bring up expertise, accomplishments, or interests which relate to the topic.
Also, be sure to meet with your guest ahead of time so that you can build a connection and get to know them.
9. Research Reports
Research report webinars are those that present original research on important subject matters.
For instance, if you run a marketing agency, you might conduct a webinar on the hottest marketing trends for the year. If you run a medical supply company, it could be a webinar on the latest COVID-19 research.
To find out what research your audience wants, send a survey to your email list. This way, you can share knowledge that your audience genuinely wants to learn.
10. Online Tastings
Hosting an online food or drink tasting Is a great way to build relationships and get to know your customers in a fun atmosphere.
With this webinar format, the presenter and facilitator will be a food and beverage expert. Registered participants receive tasting kits in the mail beforehand so that they can participate during the live event. And your products or services end up naturally coming up in conversation at some point during the webinar.
When planning this webinar format, consider types of food or drink that all registrants can try. Otherwise, you’ll need to send different kits to registrants with various taste preferences, intolerances, or cultural differences.
Behind-the-scenes virtual tours help your audience understand more about who you are and what your business does. People love getting an inside peek into businesses and how they operate. Not only does it satisfy their curiosity, but they’re also looking to learn something from you that they only can from a business owner.
If possible, take the audience somewhere you know they’d be interested to see. If you run a bakery, show them the exact way you make bread from start to finish. If you have a fashion line, take them to your showroom so they can see a sneak peek of your upcoming designs.
12. Informal Coffee Chats
Informal coffee chats are casual and relaxed webinars with three to four experts discussing a specific topic.
Coffee chats encourage speakers to show off their personalities and ideas in a casual, informal way. They typically don't require any prep time for creating slides or content, etc. They’re more about introducing your audience to topics in a low-key environment.
These conversations help you connect with your audience in a friendly, authentic way. And since they’re unscripted, they also encourage your audience to participate with live questions and feedback.
13. Live Q&As
Live Q&A sessions are when your audience takes the lead and asks any questions they have in a live format. They’re great for engaging with potential clients and customers while learning about their pain points.
You can choose to plan Q&A sessions around a specific theme or let your audience ask questions about multiple topics.
If you don't feel comfortable answering questions on the spot, you can ask your audience to send them in before the session — but you should still allow some time for unscripted Q&As.
While 60-minute webinars can be successful, they take too much planning for it to be realistically possible to conduct them often.
Hosting short webinars, on the other hand, can help you generate leads, cultivate new customer relationships, and engage with your audience.
Need help finding the right webinar software? With LiveWebinar, you can host webinars and meetings anywhere, anytime.
Digital Marketing Specialist at RTCLab, where he co-creates the LiveWebinar platform, enabling webinars and effective remote communication. He has been working in the IT industry since 2012 as a marketing specialist. In previous companies, he played the role of a Scrum Master and learned the life cycle of a SaaS (Software as a Service) product from the bottom up. As an enthusiast of combining various fields and approaches to problem-solving, he looks to Agile methods and adapts their elements to the daily work of a marketer.More posts