It’s both easier and harder to host a webinar than people think. The short process is to schedule your webinar, provide a registration mechanism, tell people about your event, hold your webinar, thank everyone for attending.
Then, you start to get ideas. What if? Can we just? This inevitably leads to using a series of tools and processes to tailor your webinar experience just so.
Pick a webinar platform and practice using it. That’s actually a big choice, so most people start small with a webinar tool that performs the basic functions either for free (join.me) or allows a trial before you pay or monthly plans (GoToWebinar). Tools that make you sign up for a full year are not a good place to start.
Tools vary a lot and it’s hard to know what questions to ask to differentiate among them. Product reviews that compare products can be helpful in knowing what is possible within a category of tool. How many times have you not known something was possible that you would have really valued? Products are evolving all the time, so calling sales can also make you aware of product capabilities or sister products that may work better for you. Here are some sample differentiators:
Before the webinar
- Can you create a registration page for your webinar with your logo?
- Can you charge people for your webinar when they register (GoToTraining)?
- Can you collect information about the person registering?
- Do they get an email acknowledging their registration that allows them to add the presentation to their calendar?
- Can you set up reminders for your presentation?
During the webinar
- Does the webinar platform allow people to dial in by phone or must they use VOIP (audio through their computer)? Not everyone has a headset they can use with their computer and would prefer to call in using a phone.
- Are attendees forced to download software to attend the webinar or is it a web-based service? Downloading software can be a barrier for people short on time or patience to join your webinar.
- Can people join your webinar using a mobile device?
- Can you show the webcam of the speaker? Of more than one speaker concurrently? Up to how many speakers?
- Can you record the webcams along with whatever other material you are presenting, like a presentation?
- Can people chat with the meeting organizer or with everyone in the webinar? Can everyone see other people’s questions?
- Can people tweet updates from within the webinar?
- Can you poll your attendees and share the results with all attendees?
- Can you share materials with attendees, like a document?
- Can you create breakout rooms for groups of your webinar attendees during the webinar?
- Can you record your webinar in a format that can be shared on video channels like YouTube?
After the webinar
- How do you edit your webinar recording? Can you edit out the moment your cat jumped into your lap in the middle of the webinar? Or, can you just edit the beginning and end of the recording, if at all?
- Is there a mechanism like an automated email to thank people for attending?
- Is there a means to contact those who weren’t able to attend so they can watch the recording?
- Survey people who attended to get feedback on the webinar?
If a particular tool doesn’t provide all of the capabilities you want or in the way that you want, there are plenty of opportunities to substitute or add in additional tools like:
If the webinar platform you are using has no registration mechanism or you don’t like it, you can substitute with an event management tool like Eventbrite.
Use an email marketing tool like Constant Contact to have a custom look and feel to your webinar invitation.
Chatting during the webinar
For more robust chatting capabilities, start a concurrent Google Hangout with your webinar and have a partner monitor and interact with folks during the webinar. People like to chat with each other and with the webinar team during the webinar…they just do, and it makes it more interesting for everyone.
What did people think about your webinar? Your webinar platform may allow you to collect the information you want. If not, you can use a specialized survey tool like SurveyMonkey.
The dog started barking, you had a string of uncontrollable “ums” during the webinar. Edit out the inevitable hiccups from your recording using a tool like Camtasia.
Do you need to add closed-captioning to your recording?
Sharing your webinar
Want to control where your recording is posted? Use a public video channel like Vimeo or YouTube or embed your recording in your website. Oh yeah, and remember to tell people where you posted the webinar recording whether they were able to attend the webinar or not.
Now, about all those people who registered for your webinar. That’s another conversation.