There are numerous different webinar platforms available today and no doubt more will be coming out in the near future. There are also some free options, for example Google Hangout.
Before you can decide on a platform, ideally you will need to have an idea on the following things:
• The number of delegates that the platform can accommodate (GoToWebinar and Zoom Webinar for example offer different packages depending on the number of delegates you’re aiming to have)
• The ability to easily move from one speaker to another.
• Screen sharing functionality (only panellists are able to share their microphone, webcam and content).
• The ability for delegates to ask questions.
• Recording of the webinar.
• Last but by no means least, the cost!
Your webinar could be a one-off or a series of webinars so it’s worth doing a little research within the same topic area in case there might be some competitor webinars taking place on the same days (and even the same time) that you’re planning.
If it is a series of, for example, monthly webinars you may want to consider the same day of the week and same time of day – so, the first Tuesday of the month at 1pm UK time, for example.
Having got the content, speakers, date, time and platform sorted you’ll need to think about promoting your webinar. If your webinars are recurring then the decision has to be made as to how this will be handled at the registration stage.
You have three options:
- Delegates register once and can attend all seminars
- Delegates need to register for each and every webinar or
- Delegates register and choose which webinars they wish to attend.
Ideally the platform you choose will enable you to set up a dedicated event page, with all the associated branding, to promote your webinar and invite registrations. Often the platforms have built-in fields so do remember to delete the fields that you don’t need and customise the registration form according to your event.
If you’re charging delegates for the webinar, most platforms will have integrated software for doing this, which will have to be enabled.
You should also be able to schedule reminders to all registered delegates via your webinar platform, which is a great way of engaging and maximising attendance
A few days prior to the live webinar, we would suggest you do a dry-run rehearsal/on-boarding with all the speakers/moderators. This will enable you to test out sound and ensuring the WiFi signal is strong, is also pretty key.
As the organiser, it would be a very good idea for you to have copies of all the presentations, in case anything happens to your speakers’ WiFi connection on the day of the live webinar. Should this happen, they could be brought in via a telephone line, with you as the organiser enhancing their slides.
The Q&A functions also vary from platform to platform so it’s worth running through all this during the rehearsal.
We are aware, for example, that the GoToWebinar platform only shows the questions which come in just to ‘organisers’ so if you would like your moderator to see these without you being involved in moderating or passing them on, you will need to make that person a ‘co-organiser’. If you think you’re unlikely to get many questions, moderators could be asked to think about a couple, ahead of the live webinar.
Most platforms include a ‘polling’ feature and this is a great way to engage with the audience and to keep the content dynamic, but don’t over-use this feature! Polls can be single answer or multiple choice and can be anonymous.
One of the great advantages of our new virtual world is that the analytics available to event organisers from all the platforms is just phenomenal and surpasses that of most live-event software.
You’ll be able to see exactly who joined the webinar and sometimes for how long too! You can then follow up with everyone differently and personally, as appropriate, and thank those who attended. A post-webinar url could be used to direct attendees to your website or registered delegates can be sent a copy of the recording and any other materials.