There are hundreds of webinar hosting platforms available for you to use. They vary greatly in price and features. Which webinar hosting platform, or platforms, is best for your business? In this video, author Richard Harrington gives you hosting platforms to consider when deciding which one to use for your webinars.
- [Narrator] The choice of which webinar hosting platform to use is a very nuanced decision. You'll have to consider economic factors, technical limitations and features as well as any organizational requirements. As such, it's beyond the scope of this class to tell you which tool to use, but I can give you some advice on selecting the right platform as well as offer some popular choices that you should consider. When it comes to choosing a webinar hosting platform, first up, I always recommend research with colleagues.
Chances are someone within your organization or your professional network will have found a tool that they loved. Talking to a real world person where you can ask complex questions is often the best way to decide what could work for you. Remember though that just because it meets someone else's needs doesn't mean that it will match yours. As such, make sure you do complete online research. Many times services change quickly. Some services that used to be free cost money.
Other times, expensive services get more affordable, or companies change what features they offer. There was a webinar hosting platform that I used that used to integrate closely with the Google Hangouts engine and it performance-wise was great. The challenge though that when they switched to their own video engine platform, it wasn't so great, and we had to cancel our account because we just couldn't put on the type of webinars that we wanted. We had video and audio issues that customers were complaining about. It's always a good idea to compare the software features.
Make a list of those features and track the differences between platforms, making sure you pay close attention to which features you actually need versus want, versus what would just be nice to have. Ideally, you should also pay attention to the pricing models as these vary greatly. You might work for an organization that has many different webinars that it needs to run with hundreds of office locations and global customers that it needs to reach. Well, there are some great solutions that are designed for that.
And then there are solutions that are designed for individuals that need to connect with a small audience. You can find yourself paying 10 dollars a month or thousands of dollars a month. Make sure you explore the pricing models and that they fit the needs of your personal budget or your company's. Also, take a look at the customer support options, these vary greatly between systems. Is it chat support, phone support, or just a frequently asked questions area in user manual? If the webinar is mission critical, having someone that you can call on the other end may be important.
But, the less expensive the service, generally the less customer support you'll get. This customer support can affect you, but there's also the support for your attendees, so make sure you explore what options are supported by the potential host. And I strongly, absolutely insist that you test the service out, running a sample event before you use it with customers. Hold the webinar and invite coworkers or friends, just try using it for something else besides the mission-critical task of your organization.
Do a test event or multiple events and make sure that there are no performance hiccups or surprises that weren't covered in the marketing brochure. Other things to consider include looking for a control panel. As a presenter, how can you switch between sources? Can you have a slide deck, a video, other presenters? How easy is it to use the software? Do you get statistics? Information about how many people are there live? Biographical information about participants? Data about how long they stayed or interacted? This can help you evaluate the performance of the webinar.
Does the webinar system integrate with your mailing list? Being able to integrate with an existing mailing list means that it's easy to send out invites or as you capture leads and sign-ups, that you can add those contacts into your list. Now, you can always find the ability to export that data, usually as a csv file, and then import that, but many of these different platforms will directly integrate with popular mailing hosts. You'll also want to make sure that it is a secure server.
This way people feel comfortable offering up registration data. And, that you can password protect areas of the webinar. Ideally, the company will have redundant servers. One of the things I like about sevices like Facebook Live and Youtube Live is that the companies behind them have a whole lot of servers. I've experienced that with many webinar systems, sometimes they have one or two servers, and if there's a problem with their server or heavy use, performance can take a hit.
Now, these days most companies are using cloud storage, and a lot of the backend is a the same between companies, relying upon things like Amazon web services for support. But, making sure that the company is redundant and has a backup plan or multiple backup severs is a great idea so your webinar doesn't have to be canceled. Also, make sure you have storage space so you can have recordings of the video, files and downloads so people can access the content afterwards.
And, check for any bandwidth limits. It doesn't do any good to have great upload speed for video quality if the site is going to throttle that and you get poor image or audio quality. Many times the free services or the less expensive services will throttle the data, not giving you as high of image or audio quality. So, what should you consider? Well, as I said there are hundred of choices. Here are a few that popped up multiple times in my research when talking to professional colleagues.
who use webinar hosts or that I've personally used. These are some of the most frequent ones that people discuss and are widely used. I'd recommend you take look at GoToWebinar, Cisco WebEx, AdobdeConnect, ReadyTalk, AnyMeeting, ClickWebinar. There are of course many more. And two very popular services are tied to the most popular social networks.
These are quickly becoming go-to destinations for webinars. You can take a look at Facebook Live, the largest, most engaging social network on the planet. Previously, this was limited to just smart phone usage, but Facebook has been opening it up and there are a wealth of software tools that make it easy to run a webinar on Facebook whether you want to promote it on your personal profile page, a company page, a fan page or a product page, it makes it easy to engage with others.
And the Google Hangouts on Air platform from the Google Plus system has also been integrated into YouTube Live. This means that if you have a YouTube account in good standing you can easily produce a webinar with multiple participants and slide sharing and other interactive activity including Q and A. We'll take a look at these two social platform later in this course. Now that you have an idea on what it takes to choose a successful webinar host or to make sure that your existing webinar host is going to work for you, let's move on to some strategies to organizing and preparing the content that you're going to share during the webinar.
- Choosing the right webinar platform and host
- Organizing your content
- Planning for audience participation
- Inviting attendees to the webinar
- Setting up your presentation computer
- Selecting a microphone for a webinar
- Using a pro camera via Thunderbolt or USB 3
- Adding a VR camera
- Optimizing slides for a webinar
- Holding a rehearsal event