From the December 2009 issue of Entrepreneur

Mary Schaeffer's business specializes in accounts payable information for businesses--and she realizes it's not everyone's cup of tea.

"It's not exactly the most fascinating thing in the world," Schaeffer says. However, her company, Accounts Payable Now & Tomorrow of Newark, Del., has produced more than 100 educational webinars over the past four years, attracting thousands of attendees at $179 a pop--making this vehicle an important revenue stream to accompany her newsletter, consulting and other business lines.

For Schaeffer, the key to successful webinars boils down to topic, title, speaker and technology. Dave Will agrees. The founder of Peach New Media in Boston gives these tips to produce better webinars.

Start strong. "A common mistake is that people meander into the event," Will says. "You need to think of this as a Broadway production--the curtains open and you give people an introduction to your company." Instead of kicking off with a weak "well, let's get started," dive right into your most interesting material.

Make it visual. Don't overwhelm your audience with too many text slides. Instead, minimize the number of words and rely on photos, video and other interesting visuals to support the speaker.

Poll your audience. Asking poll questions throughout the webinar keeps your audience engaged and can give speakers valuable insight, sometimes allowing them to tailor content and make the webinar more relevant to the audience in attendance.

Schaeffer emphasizes the importance of having an easy-to-use webinar service, because those that are difficult to access can create a flood of phone calls and loss of attendees. That may include services like Will's, which produce every aspect of the webinar, or direct-access services such as WebEx.com or GotoWebinar.com.