In case you missed last week: Your report meets spec … here’s why that’s a problem. Over the years, by design, most of our valuation reports have come to look the same. If they all meet the expected spec, how does any report stand out? And is it any wonder our pricing is collapsing?
On to this week: At one time in your professional life, I imagine you have participated on a webinar. But have you ever hosted one yourself? If you are thinking about it, here are some practical considerations based on my experience thus far with Practice Development INSIDER.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
Something to ponder. Your email auto-responder can give away a ton of personal info, e.g., the dates you will not be in the office (or at home), your business (or home) address, your phone number, and where you are staying at the specific event/city while you are away.
This past Friday, I hosted my fifth Practice Development INSIDER webinar. I was a complete newbie when I began investigating what I needed to know for the first one. So while having five webinars under my belt isn’t all that many, I can see the patterns and repetitions developing for what needs to be done.
Here are seven things you must consider before launching your webinars.
#1 – Get a showrunner
If you don’t have someone in your office who can help, hire an assistant on Fiverr or Upwork. This is my #1 recommendation because s/he will save you a lot of time, money, and stress. I was fortunate to find a trainer who worked for a large CPA firm before leaving to start a family. Her name is Danielle, and I gave her the title of Chief Webinar Officer; she is involved in everything I discuss below.
#2 – To CPE or not to CPE
By far, your biggest initial outlay of time and money will be determined by whether or not you plan to offer CPE credit. While the content of your webinar is most important, getting CPE for attending is a close second for professionals like us.
CPE credit must be approved by NASBA. So if you go down this route, to become a registered sponsor you will have to apply, complete the application, and run through a demo webinar with a NASBA staff person. Danielle navigated about 90% of these waters for me. And our application was approved with only minor edits because Danielle spoke the NASBA dialect.
The initial application fee is currently $1,070. This covers 1-15 programs per year. For example, I do monthly webinars with my INSIDER guests, and each webinar equals 1 program. The current renewal fee is $795 for 1-15 programs per year.
On the back end, there is a lot of NASBA compliance work. This includes monitoring online attendance, sending out CPE certificates, and maintaining NASBA-required records for when you get audited … and you will get audited.
On the other hand, CPE is generally not important to, say, an audience of business owners. They are looking for content/ideas/news that will help them run their businesses smarter and more effectively. That’s it. So if you are going to offer content to an audience that doesn’t need/want CPE, you can skip this step.
[NOTE: I don’t know a lot about CLE, except that programs must be approved by a state’s Supreme Court. And I don’t know how you do that for each state when, perhaps, attorneys in all 50 states could attend your webinar. Maybe someone with experience doing this could chime in via email or comment on the blog.]
#3 – Your webinar platform
There are several webinar platforms out there, and many people I know use GoToWebinar. I happen to use Zoom, which I believe has equal capabilities while being less expensive. For an audience of up to 100 people, GTW charges $89 per month (billed annually) … Zoom, $40 per month.
#4 – Equipment you will need
Whether you will be presenting PowerPoint slides or performing live interviews as I do, video and sound quality are key. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend big bucks. If you are showing slides, you will still want a good microphone. I can recommend the Blue Yeti.
If you are doing interviews, the Logitech C920 I use is a high quality webcam that comes with a built-in microphone. Both the camera and mic will beat out whatever hardware is native to your computer. Also, lighting is important if your audience will see you broadcasting. I use a Neewer ring light kit.
And it goes without saying that a stable internet connection is critical, preferably one that is hard-wired to your computer rather than wi-fi’d. That said, if you do enough webinars you will lose your connection so have a backup plan for when that happens. It happened to me this past Friday, and I was offline for several minutes. Fortunately, Danielle runs the webinar, and she was able to keep the interview moving until I got back online.
#5 – Marketing
No one will attend your webinars if they don’t know what is being covered and when they are being offered. So you will need a marketing plan for each webinar that includes the message that will resonate with your audience and the medium that will reach them. You can outsource this or do it yourself if you have the time and inclination. I like doing the marketing, and you’ve probably seen my messaging on LinkedIn.
#6 – Payment
No sense going to all of this trouble if you are not going to get paid for your efforts. Free is good, but people are less likely to show up if they don’t have any skin ($$) in the game. To collect money, you will need a payment processor – Stripe and PayPal are popular options. I use Stripe, and there was no setup cost.
#7 – Create a Checklist
If you host your own webinars, you will soon see your patterns and repetitions developing. And from the get-go, I suggest you write down every single step in a checklist. Danielle and I use a shared Google Sheet to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
If you have a group you want to educate and market to or a product or service you want to promote and sell to, webinars are the best way to reach large numbers. I suggest that your audience be people in the practice area or industry niche you want to be known for (and who will buy from you) rather than other BVFLS practitioners.
In real life
If you are interested in hosting your own webinars, pay attention to how other people run theirs. Note what you like and what you don’t because there are lessons to be learned that can improve your offering and differentiate you from how/what others do. For example, I wanted my webinars to be different from every other BVFLS webinar I’ve been on. My slide deck only has 12-15 slides, each with a little amount of text, because most of the air time is my guest and I talking to each other – and that is what I want you to see.
– If you like what I write about, tell a colleague.
– If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, email me.
– If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn.
– If you want a sense of how well your practice is working for you, take this Practice Self Assessment.