Join Sally Norred for an in-depth discussion in this video Assessing your needs, part of Learning to Run Webinars.
- [Voiceover] When planning a webinar many people want to know what the best webinar software is. The truth is, the best webinar software for you is the solution that fits the needs you have for your webinar. Before you select your webinar software, do a needs assessment by answering these questions about the requirements you have for your webinar. Use a needs assessment checklist to note which of these features are important to you. First, assess your event capacity needs. How many attendees do you expect? The participant capacity for webinar software varies.
You'll want to make sure that your software can handle the number of participants that will register for and attend your webinar. How many presenters and production team members will be needed to produce your webinar? Check to make sure your webinar software allows for enough presenter logons. And if you'll be changing presenters during the presentation the software will need to allow you to switch presenters during the event. Next, consider your audio, video, and recording needs. Will your audience need a phone bridge or web streaming audio in order to listen, or both options? Check to see if the software provides the audio connection your audience will require.
Will your presenters need a phone bridge or web streaming audio or will they need the flexibility to choose? For web streaming audio, presenters will need a microphone for their computer or a headset with a built-in microphone. Do you want to be able to turn on and off the microphone and mute for attendees? Customization for attendee audio options can vary from tool to tool. Do you need to show a video stream of the presenter while they're speaking? If so make sure your webinar software supports live video streaming of the presenter. If you want high quality video streaming, check to see if the software supports HD video.
Do you want to be able to record your webinar and have access to that recording for future use? If so, check to make sure your software has a recording feature. You should also consider your audience interactivity requirements. How much control do you want to have over the questions and responses in the Q&A chat? This is an area where almost every tool has a different feature. Some tools have threaded Q&A. Some providers allow participants to chat with one another while others restrict participants to only asking questions of presenters. Other providers don't reveal questions in the chat tool until they have a response from the presenter.
Carefully consider the level of control you need for your presentation and evaluate software with these requirements in mind. Do you want to include interactive audience polls? If they're an important part of your presentation select software that includes a polling tool. Would you like to use interactive whiteboards with your attendees? If you would like the attendees to be able mark or write on a whiteboard as a part of a interactive exercise, such as brainstorming, make sure your software includes this feature. How important are annotation tools for the presenter? If they're important, select a tool where the presenter has access to annotation tools such as highlighters, pointers, and drawing tools.
If surveying your audience when they leave the webinar event is important make sure your webinar software provider includes a customizable closing survey. It's also important to assess your event management needs. What level of security will your webinar need? If required, choose software with secure logon and data encryption features that can protect the privacy and integrity of any confidential information or business assets. Is it important that the software handles event registration and reminder emails? If you'd like the software to automate the event registration and email reminder process for your webinar make sure your software includes the capability to allow attendees to register for the webinar in advance and receive a link and passwords to access the event.
Do you need the solution to provide customized invitations and or a follow up emails to registrants and attendees? If so, this is another aspect to make sure is included in your software selection. How important is attendee event reporting? If you need pre or post session attendee reports on registration, attendance, and participation select a tool that provides this data. Let's talk about cost considerations. Some webinar products are free and others charge for web conferencing and audio separately.
Some charge by number of participants and others charge a flat monthly or yearly subscription rate. Make sure you understand the pricing of the webinar software to be sure it fits in your budget guidelines. Be aware of additional fees that can be incurred if the service provider is hosting webinar recordings. Toll-free phone bridges can be another expense. If your company absorbs the cost of the toll-free calls for attendees the cost can add up quickly for a webinar with a large audience turn out. Tools vary widely in their participant capacity, feature sets, and pricing levels.
Research a range of tools to find one that fits your budget and includes the basic features you need. You'll select the best software solution for your next webinar if you pre-access your webinar needs prior to the research process.
- What is a webinar?
- Making webinars engaging
- Comparing webinar software, like Adobe Connect and WebEx Event Center
- Selecting topics and presenters
- Creating an agenda
- Scheduling and marketing your webinar
- Using audio and video
- Recording the webinar
- Handling audience Q&A
- Following up with attendees