Ultimate Webinar Interview Guide: 6 Tips To Be The Host With The Most

When it comes to putting on a great webinar, there are many creative ways to build excitement and retain your audience. In fact, I’ve touched on a few different options in another blog post, 5 Creative Ways to Elevate Your Webinar Format.

A popular webinar format includes the interview style. Today, I’ll be expanding on this webinar tactic.

If you’re looking for an overall guide to planning a webinar, check out the 8 Week Guide To Planning A Webinar.

What’s The Point Of A Webinar Interview?

The webinar interview style allows you to ask industry-based questions that are relevant to your viewers to an expert in that field. Rather than hosting a webinar yourself, the interview style provides the opportunity to create an engaging conversation about the topic at hand.

Normally, things can get off-topic – but this is a good thing. It humanizes your webinar. As a Thought Leader, this makes you seem personable. On top of being recognized as an expert.

This is also a great option for those who are not comfortable staring down the camera lens while delivering a presentation.

Also, it’s great for building a relationship with your interviewee. It could lead to bigger opportunities either with you or your business.

It’s like the old adage goes:

“It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

Building a relationship with your interviewee could have a great ripple effect. I could write an entire piece of those benefits alone, as I’m sure you can think of some great points too! So let’s move on and jump right into the guide.

Before Your Webinar Interview

Think about when you go for a job interview. Do you just show up and hope for the best, or do you do a bit of homework prior to setting up an interview? Hopefully, it’s the latter.

There are 3 tips to consider when planning a webinar interview.

1. Understand Your Audience

This interview will likely help you, your brand, and even the interviewee. But don’t forget who this webinar is supposed to benefit—your audience.

That means you need to identify who exactly your audience is. Or at least determine the type of webinar attendees you want to attract to your program. Read our blog post on buyer personas to identify these different types of audiences. When we created our podcast series, Lessons From The Frontline, we looked to serve our content to businesses who have produced or are considering producing their own webinars. We had a specific and clear definition of our audience.

For instance, Hootsuite webinars are mainly targeted to social media or digital marketers. Rediscover your audience to understand how your content and knowledge is valuable to them.

2. Find The Right Guest

In a best case scenario, you will already have an idea on who you want to interview. Or, someone has offered to participate in your webinar as a guest speaker.

If you don’t, you’ll have to prospect and build relationships. Either in person or online.  Maybe it’s an influencer in your industry or a Thought Leader that you know your audience will want to learn from.

Either way, the key takeaway is ensuring that your interviewee’s values aligns with your business. Someone who you can build a compelling case as to why they should be on your webinar.

Ensure you have a few back-up guest speakers in case someone drops out at the last minute. Schedules are always changing, so ensure that you are always prepared. Once you have confirmed a guest speaker, solidify your dates and times. Ensure everyone is on the same page.

3. Do Your Homework

Similar to a job interview, you wouldn’t just wing the entire thing without doing your homework.

Know who you’re talking to. And I don’t just mean their name. Look into some of the work that they’ve done. Read through any articles or blogs they’ve written for. The interview is meant to learn about the other person or their business, however, it’s good practice to know more about your guest than your audience does.

Look for previous webinars your guest participated in. Conduct background research so that you know a few of their accomplishments. Once you get more information on them, their background, and their business, define well thought out questions that can keep the conversation going.

Have a few questions ready as a template that you can fall back on should the conversation digress. You can share your template with your guest too in order to give them a bit of background before the interview.

During Production

It’s the day of your live event, and you’re ready to conduct your webinar interview. Your questions are ready, your audio and video have been checked and you’re ready to start.

Now what?

4. Make Your Interviewee Feel At Home

You want to make sure your guest feels comfortable in order to get a natural conversation going. The more comfortable your guest is, the better quality information you’re going to get from them. This is important because the type of conversation and content you create with your webinar is what will draw your audience back for future webinars.

Be the host with the most: 

  • Ensure your guest knows all the details about the webinar interview beforehand. What topics are you covering?
  • Sometimes your guest might want to see your pre-made questions, be sure to show them.
  • Let them hear your introduction prior to the interview.
  • Reassure them that it’s just a conversation between the two of you, especially if they are visibly nervous.
  • Thank and welcome to your guest as soon as you begin.
  • Most importantly: Be enthusiastic and engaging with your conversation.

5. Remember, It’s Not Your Interview

You are the moderator and you’re interviewing your guest. They should be the one taking hold of the conversation. You’re there to help steer the conversation in the right direction.

If you take over the conversation, you risk coming across as rude and your audience will end up losing the value in your webinar. You’ve asked your guest to come on your webinar and share their experiences, knowledge, and strategies. Not to tell them about yours.

The real takeaway from this tip is simple: Listen to your guest.  

Understand what they have to offer. Rather than just understanding the situation, or the what, you want to understand the hows and the whys.

It sounds simple, however, sometimes this step gets lost in the commotion of actually setting up and preparing for your webinar interview.

6. Have Fun With It

I say this a lot when it comes to webinars, of any format, but it’s true. Have fun! Your audience will connect with you and your guest if you’re having fun. It draws out that natural chemistry and gives your audience some emotion to hold on to. The natural flow of your interview will come together when you’re both having fun.

You worked hard, now it’s time to have fun and enjoy the show.

Webinar Interview Don’ts

After years of experience in the webinar industry, I’ve learned some key don’ts that I’m going to share with you.

Don’t:

  • Talk (or breath) too close to the mic.
  • Follow your researched questions like a grocery list.
  • Be disrespectful to your guest or audience (don’t interrupt).
  • Rely too heavily on your research.
  • Announce your questions “My next question…”
  • Forget about your audience.
  • Allow for awkward silence between you and your guest.
  • Forget to listen and be present with your guest.

Let’s Recap:

Hosting a webinar interview should be informative and valuable for your audience. Ensure you’re hosting an exceptional interview by following our tips.

  • Do Your Homework: Find the interviewee who will provide value to you and your audience and ensure you’ve done your research about your guest.
  • Be A Great Host: Invite your guest into an open environment and make them feel comfortable and welcome. Reassure them when needed.
  • Remember Your Audience: This interview is for your audience. Ensure they’re getting the most out of it and stay engaged throughout the interview.
  • Be Mindful of The Don’ts: Have fun, but be cautious of the don’ts we reviewed.

Be the best interviewer for your business. Follow these dos (and understand the don’ts) and you’re sure to really be the host with the most. If you want to learn more about promoting your upcoming webinar interview, check out our 5 simple steps to creating a promotional strategy.

As always, if you want to talk more about hosting a webinar, feel free to reach out to me personally.

Matthew Ley

Matthew Ley

Matt Ley is the current President and co-founder of The Streaming Network. Starting his career in virtual events in 2007, Matt is an industry veteran that is passionate about helping customers stand out in their industry with compelling virtual events that people want to attend. The driving ambition for Matt is that virtual events are not a utility for information distribution but an opportunity for firms to create a competitive advantage. Matt is an accomplished speaker, moderator and a sought-after thought leader.

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