Aileen Barron: Online venues for discussion groups and farm demos

By Aileen Barron, Green Acre Marketing

With many open days, farm demos, discussion group events and other such gatherings unlikely to take place in the immediate future, there are other options from which farmers can gain and share knowledge.

Agri-businesses and industry bodies could very effectively reach out to their customers via webinars. A webinar is essentially an online seminar, that generally takes the form of a real-time presentation from which turns into a conversation from anywhere in the world.

It allows large groups of people to engage in online discussions or training events where they can share audio, documents or slides. The real benefit of webinars is that you reap the same reward as being in the same place as the host, even though you might be in another part of the country – it’s knowledge sharing with no borders.

How to get started

There are lots of platforms available for hosting a webinar such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToWebinar, WebEx and Microsoft Teams to name a few; most of which offer free trials for you to determine which platform best suits your business needs.

For agricultural professionals to create an effective and engaging webinar, three key roles are required: an organiser; a presenter; and attendees. To ensure the webinar is a success, a clear objective and a clear understanding of your audience are extremely important.

Your audience will determine the presentation that needs to be built. In advance of the webinar, it is also important that it is promoted, so people know exactly when it is on and how they can join.

The information shared on the webinar must add value to the attendees. By placing yourself in the shoes of your proposed attendees, you will understand what it is they will want to learn. Ask yourself: “What value can I bring to my viewers or what is likely to be a real conversation starter?”

Once the value has been defined, ask yourself: “What is the message I want to give to my viewers?” This will help set out the objective. When the objective is clear, concise and consistent throughout the presentation, agri-professionals avoid waffle and off-topic conversation.

Furthermore, it is imperative that you understand your audience when creating and promoting a webinar. A “one size fits all” approach is what you want to avoid when carrying out a webinar.

Specify your audience, be it in dairy, beef, tillage, pig or poultry, and don’t be afraid to drill down even further into your audience. When you understand your audience, you can bring them information of high value which in turn places your brand and product offering in a strong position.

A good presentation will set you apart from your competitors. The presentation should be visually appealing, informative and flow well so your attendees can clearly follow the conversation, take notes and later ask questions.

It’s good to avoid lengthy presentations as you may lose the interest of your attendees, anywhere from 25–60mins is optimal; depending on the content being put forward.

The presenter must be clear and engaging. If your agri-business team is hosting a webinar, ensure the presenter is professional, well informed on the topic being discussed and reflective of the brand.

Like any event, unless it is promoted in advance of going live, it will not achieve its full value. Keeping in mind your target audience and how they would normally engage with you is a good guide on how to inform them about the upcoming webinar and further promotion can be done via email, social media or online advertising.

Webinars are reasonably new to some, so it is worthwhile offering clear guidelines on how someone can join and what they can expect.

For many, hosting a webinar is new territory; therefore, for any assistance with utilising webinars or any digital marketing and communication platforms, contact Green Acre Marketing on: [email protected].

There are lots of tools now available to make communicating remotely with each other easier and more effective.

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