Masterclass ? AMA ? Panel discussion? Product demo?
The explosion of webinar formats have webinar hosts , marketers and event planner’s heads spinning. Use this guide to evaluate each option and find the format that’s best for your audience
Webinars are an inexpensive way to educate, build a following, and grow your business.
They provide a way for you to connect with your audience in real-time, teach them about your products, and interact with them during the webinar. There are many different webinar formats that we can use to suit our needs.
The best format for a webinar depends on the type of audience you are trying to reach, the goal you want to achieve, and the topic of your webinar.
Some formats are better suited for one-way broadcasts, while others work better for two-way communication. This post will help you decide what type of webinar is best for your business and how to efficiently set it up.
These formats can double up as ideas for sessions for a hybrid or virtual event.
Interactive webinars formats to grow business & drive engagement
Each webinar format includes a short description of what it is, along with details about which business goals it’s best for, what webinar features you’ll need, how to host your webinar, and real-world examples from leading brands that you can learn from. Let’s jump right in!
1. Panel discussions
Panel discussions are a great way to get different opinions on the same topic. A typical panel discussion consists of 3-4 panelists. The panelists are usually experts in the field and they share their thoughts and real-world experiences with the audience.
You will need a moderator for this type of discussion and they must be knowledgeable about the subject. The moderator should introduce the panelists and their expertise, provide context for the discussion, and guide the panelists in their responses.
Besides a list of curated questions, you should leave time for the audience to ask questions to the panelists.
Best for business goals: Raise awareness on topics or trends
Must have webinar platform tools: Raise hand, Live Q&A, Upvote questions, RTMP integration (for hybrid webinars)
Panel discussion webinar example
2. Fireside chat
Fireside chats are unique in that they’re held on a one-to-one level. They’re more informal than traditional interviews giving the audience a behind-the-scenes look into what the person is like and their ideas.
FDR’s fireside chats were first introduced during World War II when he would address the nation live on public radio during his time in office.
The casual atmosphere of the chat makes everyone feel more relaxed. This way, the guest is more relaxed to share knowledge more deeply and engagingly.
It is a great webinar format for less experienced speakers who want to share their ideas but might not feel comfortable presenting in front of a large audience.
It’s easy to overlook audience interactivity in such a format. Keeping your audience engaged is important, so don’t forget to integrate them from time to time. Polls are a great way of doing this!
Best for business goals: Thought leadership, Employee Connect
Must have webinar platform tools: Audience polls with projections
Fireside chat webinar example
3. Product demos
Webinars have become an integral part of any marketer’s strategy and product demo webinars are the core of it.
Nearly 76% of marketers surveyed by ON24 agree that webinars help them to generate more leads and 75% say it helps them to extend their reach. This is just one of the many webinar benefits.
Product webinars offer a huge advantage. You can create an immersive experience for literally thousands of people at once, and it lets you reach them all on your terms in a very cost-effective way. Your potential leads just have to log in at an appointed time wherever they are.
Best for business goals: Lead generation, New features/product launch, Brand building
Key webinar platform features: Live Q&A, Stream Pre-recorded videos, Download pdf
Product demo webinar example
4. Town hall
This format is perfect for internal employee communications. Unlike other webinar formats, it doesn’t have rigid guidelines and can vary in size and culture depending on the company. But certain elements should not be ignored like
- Keep the introduction brief – You don’t want it to become a long scripted speech.
- Make the virtual town hall interactive – Get employees live on the webinar to ask their questions.
- Heavily use audience polls – It allows passive employees to be heard and leaders to get valuable feedback
- Last but not least – Integrate gamification to make it fun with virtual games and icebreakers
Best for business goals: Employee engagement, Internal communications
Must have webinar platform tools: Live Q&A, Audience Polls, Emoji, Gamification
Townhall webinar example
5. Customer roundtables
Roundtables are the best webinar format for bringing together insights from all angles on a topic. The moderator asks a series of probing questions and guest speakers with different perspectives share their thoughts.
Such virtual round-table discussions are a great way to connect with your customers who can share their views. This gets them talking about their direct experience of your brand as well as giving them publicity. A few tips before you choose this format
- Poll your audience pre-webinar for topics
- Ensure all speakers get equal screen time
- Invite the right guests, do pre-interviews, and set expectations
- Wrap-up with giving a chance for every speaker to plug their company or product or service
Best for business goals: Brand building, Lead Generation
Must have webinar platform features: Multiple speaker support, Branding
Example of virtual roundtable
6. Customer Onboarding
B2B millennial customers (especially SaaS), don’t have time to go through the hundreds of pages of “get started” guides. Instead, onboarding webinars are a cost-effective, high-ROI tool.
Onboarding webinars are a great way to transform the first interaction your customer has with your product. They provide the necessary information for them to start using it, while also answering any questions they might have.
You’ll also see that it will lower your training cost and motivate product adoption. The natural outcome of this is that it leads to better customer retention. Ensure you cover these topics
- Showcase use cases of your product
- Tie features to customer’s pain or benefits
- Highlight analytics and reports
- Provide supporting collateral like videos, whitepapers, ebooks
- Spend time addressing all their questions
- Provide best practices & tips
Best for business goals: Customer onboarding, Customer retention, Customer support
Must have webinar platform tools: Screen share, Live Q&A
Customer Onboarding example
E-Learning is one of the fastest ways to acquire skills in any field today.
Online masterclasses are an excellent way to learn and improve your skills for a fraction of the cost. Unlike typical online classes which are often just tutorials, a masterclass is for serious learners looking to master a niche skill. It is taught by an expert who has achieved mastery in their discipline.
This webinar format is especially popular for B2C webinars. To create a killer combo, choose a trending webinar topic in digital marketing, finance, coding, and public speaking. Masterclass webinars are ticketed, short webinars spread over multiple sessions. So ensure you choose an integrated ticketing webinar platform to make your life easier.
Best for business goals: B2C webinars
Must have webinar platform features: Live Q&A, Collaborations, Pre-recorded videos
Key elements of a virtual masterclass
8. Online workshops
Since the pandemic, another offline experience that has gone mainstream online is training and workshops. It has become a popular webinar format for both B2C & corporate training.
Online workshops are a great way to offer training and education to a large audience. It is flexible with opportunities for collaboration and interactive learning. This webinar format provides an engaging environment that can be tailored to the needs of different organizations with creative workshop ideas.
Best for business goals: e-Learning, Corporate training
Must have webinar platform tools: Live Q&A, Chat, Polls
Here is a video on how to facilitate & engage in virtual workshops
9. Co-Branded Webinars
Co-branding webinars are a great way to boost your authority, add more value to your attendees, and bring in potential customers from your partner companies. Your brand partners can help fill in any gaps in the end-to-end solution your leads are looking for.
It also allows you to co-market your webinar to each other’s audience, which is a huge advantage. When looking for a webinar partner, keep in mind what marketing they do and how well it’s working. This will show you their potential reach in the market and whether they are worth it.
One important tip to keep in mind is to be clear on lead-sharing agreements. This avoids any conflicts of interest or misunderstandings after the webinar.
Best for business goals: Lead generation, Brand building
Must have webinar features: Branding, Pre-recorded videos
Here is a great example of co-branding of GoPro & Redbull
10. Influencer collaboration
Influencer marketing has proven to be the most popular (if not more), particularly in recent years. Over 93% of marketers have tried influencer marketing to raise brand awareness, reach a new audience, and improve sales conversion.
Combined with effective webinar promotion, the right influencer can build trust and bring in new customers. Influencer marketing can be integrated into webinars. This way, both parties can benefit from each other: companies get new customers and influencers can get free products for review or compensation for their time.
It’s vitally important to do thorough research on potential influencers and find ones who’re a good fit.
You must do enough research to find the best influencers who fit your brand and target customers.
Best for business goals: Lead generation
Must have webinar features: Gamification, Chat
Here is everything you need to know about influencer marketing
11. Networking webinars
Compared to other webinar formats, this is the most engaging one. Unlike a one-way broadcast, networking webinars are dynamic & interactive which makes them great for small groups of 20 or less.
When you plan for a networking webinar, one of the critical factors to consider is an interactive webinar platform. Most webinar platforms are restricted to a speaker-to-audience broadcast and lack networking & socializing features.
You would need a wider range of networking tools like speed networking, chat, social walls, breakout rooms, and video meetings that can adapt to your audience and goal. To help your attendees feel comfortable don’t forget to send them networking tips pre-event.
Best for business goals: Community building, Brand building
Must have webinar features: Speed networking, Chat, Breakout rooms
Here is a video to watch on what attendees expect in a networking session
12. Ask me Anything
AMAs, made popular by Reddit, is the best webinar format to understand your audience and how to best communicate with them. The idea is to answer any questions your audience might have about anything – you, your business, your work, or your product.
We highly recommend using it for employee connect.
Some people are afraid of the idea of an AMA webinar because they think that it is too risky. But, if you know what you are doing, then there is nothing to worry about. Here are some tips before you host your own AMA
- Ensure your speaker is clear on what to expect
- Either your or get a moderator(s)
- Try and collect questions in advance
- It’s ok to get some risky or funny questions
- Follow Up on all questions if time runs out
Best for business goals: Community building, Employee engagement
Must-have webinar features: Live Q&A – duh!
AMA Webinar example
Frequently asked Questions
What is a webinar format?
A webinar format tells your prospects what to expect so that they can come prepared. Whatever the topic, goal and type of your audience, there’s bound to be a webinar format that suits you. This article lists formats with explanations to help you get started.
How do you structure a webinar?
You kick-off the webinar with a 2-5 minute introduction on the topic and the speaker(s). This is followed by 30-40 minutes of the core part of your webinar – whether it be a presentation, demo, discussion or interview. The last part of the webinar you want to keep it open for interaction with the audience in order to answer their questions.
What are the parts of webinar?
Typical webinar parts include: Host, presentation slides, pre-recorded videos, experts/speakers, Q&A from attendees who are watching the webinar live, post-event follow up emails. You want to ensure all these seamlessly are available in your webinar platform
How do I write a webinar content?
Writing webinar content can be tedious and overwhelming. The first step is to choose a webinar topic. Ideally, the topic should be something that will interest your target audience. Next, you want to create an outline for your webinar and use keywords that are relevant to your niche. Finally, make sure to include a sign up form at the end of your webinar
What to say at the start of a webinar?
At the start of a webinar, it is important to keep the audience engaged. Here are some ways to do that:
- Ask a question and show live poll results
- Give a back story of the topic or the speaker
- State an eye-popping statistic
- Integrate an ice-breaker or a fun virtual game
- Set the guidelines of audience interaction throughout the webinar