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What is a Live Webinar? | Full Guide & Step-by-Step

What is a live webinar? Here's your full guide to everything you need to host a successful webinar live.
Stephen Robles
Video & Podcast Creator
Last Updated:
March 28, 2024
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Live webinars have become a marketing mainstay for both marketers and influencers. In fact, a whopping 99% of marketers cited webinars, in general, as being key to their marketing efforts. 

If you want to know more about live webinars and are considering hosting one, you’ve come to the right place!  

Here we’ll dive into the benefits of live webinars, the steps to create one, and the best practices to ensure your webinar is not just informative but also engaging. 

Read on to find out more!

What is a live webinar?

A live webinar is an online seminar or presentation that occurs in real-time. 

Some examples of live webinars include:

  • Educational webinars
  • Employee training webinars
  • Product demonstration webinars
  • Panel discussion webinars
  • Thought leadership webinars
  • Interview webinars

During a live webinar, the audience may or may not interact with the hosts. If they do interact, it will be through video and voice or to a lesser extent, through the text chat function. 

Interactions can include the audience asking questions or seeking clarification from the presenter or the audience communicating with one another through text chat. 

Here’s an example of a live webinar that was later repurposed and added to YouTube

What are the benefits of live webinars?

Here’s why you should consider hosting live webinars: 

Live webinars are more engaging

Compared to other webinar formats like automated or on-demand webinars, live webinars are more engaging. It’s the closest thing to taking part in a real-life seminar or classroom environment. The audience can ask the presenter questions, and they can interact with one another and share their thoughts. 

Networking opportunities

Live webinars let you make new friends. You can interact with the other participants who share similar interests, leading to close friendships or business relationships.

Packed with the most up-to-date content

Content on on-demand and automated webinars can get outdated, especially if the recording is a few months or years old.  But on live webinar platforms, content is usually the most current and relevant (provided the speaker keeps up-to-date with the latest knowledge in the field). 

Cost Effective

Hosting a seminar in person can be costly. You have to pay for travel, venue rental, equipment, staffing, accommodations, and more.

But for live webinars, at minimum, you only need a laptop, a camera, a webinar platform, and a good internet connection. You, however, may want to purchase a good camera and microphone just to make the webinar seem more professional to the audience. 

Immediate Feedback

When hosting a live webinar, you can ask participants for feedback, get it instantly, and then make changes to the presentation on the fly.  You aren’t afforded this luxury when creating on-demand or automatic webinars – you’ll have to wait for a few hours or days. 

Even if you do get feedback in a couple of hours, you can’t implement it immediately unless you re-record the webinar soon. 

What do you need to host a successful live webinar?

Let us look at what’s needed to host a successful and professional live webinar

Internet connection

Basics first, you’ll need a solid internet connection. This is because you’ll be streaming your video live and also, depending on the webinar platform, receive the video/audio feed from participants. 

A desktop or laptop

You don’t need to go fancy here; most desktops or laptops nowadays can handle a webinar platform without issues. 

Audio equipment

Important audio equipment includes:

Headphones: These don’t really have to be high-end; you can use whatever earphones or headphones you’re using currently.

Microphone: Laptop microphones aren’t usually of great quality, so it’s better not to rely on them. They make your voice sound muffled and distorted.  

Instead, you should purchase microphones that make your voice sound crisp, clear, and audible. Good microphones for webinars include:

Video equipment

If you’re not worried about the visual quality of the webinar, then your standard laptop webcam can suffice. But if you want higher resolution or higher quality video, an external high-quality webcam is ideal.

Some good options include


Different webinar platforms have different strengths, so it’s good to look for platforms that have strengths you want and weaknesses you don’t care about. 

While there are many options on the market, we suggest Riverside if your goal is high-resolution, seamless webinars.

Riverside records in up to 4K, making it an excellent platform for recording studio-quality webinars that can be repurposed as content later. You can host a webinar with up to 8 guest speakers and 1000 audience members. While the 1000-member audience isn’t part of the stream – they can only hear and see you – you can invite them to join the main stage anytime. You can also expand your webinar’s reach by streaming to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any custom RTMP.

Learn more about Riverside's webinar recording solution or sign up for an effortless webinar experience.

How to host a successful live webinar: Step-by-step

To make a webinar that’s highly engaging, informative, and well-received by your audience, here’s what you should do:

Step 1: Figure out your customers

Before even starting the webinar, you should understand who your target audience is. To get insights into what your target demographic needs, you can: 

Conduct surveys: Some of the questions you can ask include: 

  • What topics are you interested in X niche?
  • What challenges are you currently facing in your business/industry?
  • What skills are you looking to develop that our webinars could potentially address?
  • Are there any specific questions or issues you'd like us to address in a webinar?

See what your customers are saying on social media. Look at topics they’re discussing, challenges they’re facing, and questions they’re asking. 

Reach out on email: If you have people on your email list, ask them to let you know what topics they’d be interested in learning about. 

Check in with your team: Ask your sales and customer service teams what, from their experience, customers want to learn about the most. 

Research your competitors: If your competitors have created successful webinars, analyze their strategy and see what you can learn from them. 

Step 2: Brainstorm and choose webinar topics

Afetr your audience research, it’s time to decide on your topic. Follow these steps:

  • Figure out what you want your webinar to achieve. Are you aiming to educate your customers, introduce new products or services, or something else?
  • Come up with a list of topics that align with your goals.
  • Narrow down this list based on relevance to your audience. 
  • Validate your ideas. You can ask people on a social media poll if they’re interested in these topics. 

That’s it! You should now ideally have the first topic of your first live webinar ready. 

Step 3: Outline, script, and structure the webinar

Now it’s time to outline, script, and structure the webinar. Here’s a template that you can use for the outlines:

Introduction (5-10 minutes)

  • Greet attendees and introduce speakers.
  • Provide a brief overview of the webinar topic.
  • Provide technical instructions on how attendees can participate, ask questions, and access materials.

Main presentation (30-45 minutes)

  • Break down the content into manageable sections or modules.
  • Use a mix of formats like slides, videos, infographics, and live demonstrations.
  • Ensure the content is clear, concise, and relevant to your objectives.

Case Studies or Real-world Examples (10-15 minutes)

  • Present case studies or real-world examples that relate to the webinar topic. This helps in illustrating practical applications of the concepts being taught.

Break (5-10 minutes)

Hands-on Session or Workshop (20-30 minutes)

  • For skill-based webinars, include a hands-on session where participants can practice skills or work on a project. 
  • Provide guidance and feedback during this session.

Q&A and Discussion (10-15 minutes)

Summary, feedback, and follow-up (5-15 minutes)

  • Request feedback through a survey or a feedback form.
  • Inform participants about how they can access additional resources, recordings, or follow-up sessions.
  • Summarize the webinar and then deliver closing remarks.

Step 4:  Decide on the right webinar platform

With the wide variety of software, you may find it hard to choose. We’ve got a full list of the best webinar platforms, but we’ll say Riverside is one of your best bets. It has high-quality video recording, up to 4K, handles 1000s of attendees, has live streaming options, and more

Other features to look for in webinar platforms include:

  • Interactive tools like live chats, polls, surveys, click-to-action (CTA) buttons, etc.
  • Screen sharing and collaboration capability
  • Editing capability
  • Analytics to find out how your webinar is performing
  • Price
  • Mobile app accessibility

Step 5: Equipment

Other than the basic requirement of high-speed internet and a decent laptop, you’ll need:

  • A good webcam
  • Headphones
  • A quality microphones, 
  • Video lighting (optional).

Your laptop’s built-in camera and microphone might do the job, but it’ll likely do it poorly. So you might want to purchase an external webcam and microphone for the job. 

Step 6: Schedule the webinar and set up registration 

If your audience is from all over the globe, you want to air your webinar at a time suitable for people in most time zones. 

Also, create a registration page that has good marketing and copy which compels attendees to sign up for the webinar.  Some webinar platforms come with their own registration page builder. You can also use sites like Carrd, Unbounce, or Leadpages

Step 7: Promote your webinar

Promote your webinar to your email list or to other social media platforms. For example you can create short shareable teasers to entice your audience. You can also leverage any of your guest speakers’ followers and ask them to promote the webinar as well.

Step 8: Practice and Rehearse

If you’re not confident in presenting the webinar, you might want to grab a patient friend who wouldn’t mind letting you rehearse the presentation. Use this opportunity to also familiarize yourself with webinar tools and features. 

Step 9: Setup

Make sure you have a strong internet connection and check if your equipment is working properly. Test your audio and video before the webinar to avoid technical glitches. 

Step 10: Conducting the webinar

Log in at least 15-30 minutes before the beginning of the webinar. This will give you time to resolve any last-minute technical issues. 

As attendees come pouring in, welcome them and let them know when the webinar will start. You could also play soft background music or display a countdown timer. 

It’s important to respect your attendees' time. Give the introduction, deliver the main content, and follow up with Q&A. Wrap up the session by summarizing the key points and letting the attendees know the next steps. This could be downloading additional resources or purchasing a product or service.

Step 11: Follow up

After the webinar, send a Thank-You email to all registrants within 24 hours. 

In this mail, include a recap of the webinar, the key takeaways, and the CTA.

For the no-shows, you can send a separate email on what they missed. Add a link to the recording or briefly summarize what was discussed. With Riverside’s AI show notes you can create key takeaways and summaries without any extra effort.

You can even share any resources referenced in the webinar, like a book, blog post, video, etc. 

Step 12: Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback post-webinar is a good way to find out places where you could improve. You could send a feedback form in your thank-you mail. 

Ask attendees what they liked, what they didn’t, and what topics they’d be interested in the future. Keep the survey short and to the point to increase completion rates.

Best practices for engaging live webinars

Below are some good practices for creating engaging live webinars:

  • Use breakout rooms to drive interaction. These increase engagement, and make the webinar feel more memorable to the audience. 
  • Incorporate visuals into your webinar. Use visual aids like slides, images, graphs, infographics, and videos to make the content more appealing and easier to understand. 
  • Tell stories. People love them, and they help in the recollection of important content as well as make content more relatable. Use case studies and anecdotes to illustrate your points further. 
  • Keep your webinar interactive. Encourage participants to use the chat function to ask questions, provide feedback, and interact with each other. 
  • Keep it simple. Don’t use text-heavy presentation slides, as long walls of text aren’t engaging. It can overwhelm the audience’s cognitive capacity, decrease engagement, and reduce attention. 
  • Keeping mobile users in mind. Use a webinar platform that supports smartphones (Riverside is great for this). And since mobile users have to make do with a small screen, increase the font of slides and visuals to make it easier for them to view without strain. 

Hosting and recording live webinars with Riverside

If you’re looking for a platforms that offers a seamless experience, try Riverside. Our platform records in up to 4K video and 48 kHz lossless audio, making it ideal for repurposing your live. You can host a live webinar with up to 8 guests and 1000 audience members, who can interact with you and call in live. 

After going live, head to our text-based editor, where you can easily give your webinar a second life and turn it into shareable content. Trim your recording by simply deleting text in the transcript of your webinar. You can also add captions, change your layout and add your own logo for branding. Better yet, turn your webinar into sharable promotional clips. Our Magic Clips tool uses AI to find the most viral-worthy moments in your video and turns them into enticing short-form videos.

Hosting a live webinar on Riverside

Other key features you can expect include:

  • High-quality video recording resolution of up to 4K and audio recording of up to 48kHz. 
  • Local recording, where recording takes place on each person’s computer instead of relying on faulty internet connection.  
  • Presentation recorder that lets you upload slides and capture them in high-quality. 
  • Up to 8 participants and up to 1,000 audience members per webinar
  • Highly accurate AI transcription in over 100 languages 
  • Media Board for live mixing during your session. You can upload and include audio and video in your recording.
  • Record in separate tracks for more control while editing 
  • Producer mode so you can invite someone to manage the technical aspects of your live behind the scenes
  • Text-based editing where editing your recording is as simple as editing a text transcript.
  • Magic Clips feature that uses AI to find the key moments of your recording and turns them into shareable, short clips. 
  • Audio fine-tuning including a background noise remover and audio level normalization
  • Live streaming and multistreaming to multiple social media platforms simultaneously, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. 
  • Built in script and teleprompter so you can keep on track while you host your webinar

FAQs on Live Webinars

Can people see you in a live webinar?

The answer is – it depends. 

Some webinar platforms only stream video and audio from the host and none from the participant. Zoom Webinars is one such example. In this case, people can’t see you during the webinar. 

Other platforms, like Live webinar, let multiple participants turn on their webcams. Here, people can see you if you have turned the webcam on in the platform. However, these platforms also give you the option to switch off the camera. 

In the end, while some platforms don’t allow you to turn on the camera at all, others do allow you to do so, but you have the option to turn it off if you want to. 

What is the difference between a webinar and a live webinar?

A live webinar is a subset under the category of webinar. Webinars can be not only live, but also on-demand or automated. The latter two types are not shown in real-time.

What are the benefits of a live webinar?

Live webinars bring a host of advantages to the table. Their interactive nature not only keeps participants engaged but also fosters a deeper sense of trust between the audience and the host. This makes your audience remember and believe in your brand more. 

These webinars are excellent ways for participants and hosts to network with each other. You also get immediate feedback from participants on what was good about the webinar and what wasn’t. 

You can read the detailed breakdown of the benefits further up in the article.

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