A “virtual roundtable webinar” is an online event that includes a panel of industry experts, all from different organizations.
What makes a virtual roundtable compelling is that it helps facilitate the broadest possible range of thought leadership, the most amount of speakers, and some of the best possible audience interaction.
Here are some of the core basics of virtual roundtables, and why they are effective.
A Panel Gives Your Audience Different Perspectives
With a virtual roundtable, you do not want the panel to be smaller than 3 or larger than 5 people, plus a moderator. The reason you only have 3 to 5 speakers has to do with logistics and time. It is often difficult to fit a larger number of speakers into a room for a webinar, or to coordinate technology issues between a large group of people in different locations.
But even if you can get a big enough space, or get everyone on the same page (technically speaking), you likely will not have enough time to give everyone an opportunity to share their insight in a complete and intelligent way. Therefore, we always recommend keeping the panel size of roundtable discussions between 3 to 5 people.
The benefit of the roundtable panel in a webinar is that your audience gains different perspectives that those of your company. If you are successful in finding the right balance of speakers, you will provide every attendee with even better quality information, and make the event much more engaging.
Sub-Topics Give The Audience More Webinar Content
For every webinar, there should be one core topic.
What makes a virtual roundtable somewhat unique is that you will be able to break down your topic into 3 to 5 subtopics. This gives each event a unique potential to be 3 to 5 separate events within one.
What do we mean? Well, if your event is for an hour, and you decide to have 3 subtopics, you can give each subtopic 10 to 15 minutes of time with a brief Q&A session at the end of each one. That 10 to 15 minute segment can be extracted from the total event, and distributed to your audience as a more digestible video.
It is important to remember that members of your audience may be only interested in one aspect of your discussion, while others are interested in another section. By offering both the full event, as well as each segment, you give your company more content it can leverage for marketing, and more opportunities to engage with your customer base.
Active Listening and Engaging Discussions
Another benefit of the virtual roundtable model is that you can more easily facilitate discussions and have a more engaged Q&A session.
Webinar panels are great for back and forth discussion. While each panelist will get an opportunity to share their perspective, there will be moments within a sub-topic discussion wherein the speakers can get into a debate on the issues, or offer competing perspectives / alternative viewpoints. This is much more dynamic for the audience, and helps make them more active listeners.
With your speakers engaged, and your audience active and attentive, you then set the stage for far more engaging discussions either at the end of each section / sub-topic, or the end of the event.
Value Goes Beyond The Webinar
Lastly, virtual roundtables have value that go beyond the webinar event itself.
Any time you have a group of speakers, your company should take time to promote each one. You can either do this with a simple speaker profile, or you can use the opportunity to have a small 3 question session with each speaker. This gives your company additional thought-leadership to share with your target audience.
What’s more, there is no reason why the end of the webinar has to be a complete end to your engagement with the audience. Often times, there will be questions from the audience that the panel will not have time to address. Make a part of your post-event activities to get answers to some of those questions. By doing this, you further advance your company’s reputation as being customer-centric, and you give your team more legitimate and thoughtful opportunities to engage with customers.
As we mention to all of our customers, marketing is all about smart communication, building relationships, and finding ways to add value to your customers. By leveraging a virtual roundtable model for your webinars, you can effectively engage with your audience, gather greater insight into their needs, and provide the kind of value that helps build relationships which lead to sales opportunities.