Webinars can be a wonderful tool for leading courses and sharing information with your clients. They also give you an opportunity to show off your expertise as an authority in your field.
What do you need to host a webinar?
Having a good set of equipment can help with the overall quality of your presentation. At a minimum, you will want to have a good microphone or headset so that your listeners can hear clearly. Preparing backup equipment can also be helpful when an issue happens.
Most importantly though is the platform that you use to host the webinars on. There are many paid and free options available, and choosing one can be overwhelming. Each software will have features suited to different types of users.
Best Free Webinar Platforms
OmNovia specializes in automating your webinar experience. This can be helpful if you need to deliver on-demand webinars to your audience. omNovia offers webinar services in different package using their Webinato platform. These packages are based on the number of participants, on-demand views, and usage needs for your webinar.
By utilizing the autopilot features, you can repurpose past events, or prerecorded your seminar for use with a recast. The software allows you to add interactive features to engage with the audience and gather data for reporting purposes.
An interactive mobile app allows your attendees to view the webinar and interact with chat, polls, and Q&A. Participants can also view the webinar from any web browser.
Mobile-friendly event registration pages. These can be customized with your branding and can be for one-time or recurring events. Registrants get emailed webinar information and up to two reminders.
Three types of recasting options available: individual on-demand, group encore, and fully automated recasting. Group encore allows you to set a time and date for the webinar. You can integrate live events into the recast such as polling, and other forms of participant engagement.
Can monetize recasts to set up a revenue stream, or allow your participants to view them free of charge.
Server-side hosting allows you to scale the number of participants to up to 2,000 per webinar.
HD video streaming up to 29.97 frames per second and resolution 700-1280 pixels wide.
Add-on features such as Q&A management, co-browsing tools, survey modules, and presentation managers available as well.
Pricing packages start at $119 per month on the annual pricing plan for 100 participants per seminar and goes up based on the scale of your webinar.
YouTube Creator Studio
YouTube has continued to be an outlet for creators to share their videos. YouTube Creator Studio gives you several live streaming options for your webinar. These features can appeal to a wide range of users.
Using YouTube to run your webinar requires your own channel that can be set up using a Google account. There are a number of features that help you schedule webinars to audiences of different sizes. Using YouTube for your webinar can be an easy way to connect with your audience.
YouTube gives you the option of customizing your webinar experience. The quick option uses Google Hangout On Air. This encoder allows you to share materials during the presentation and manage the audience. You can also use other encoder software options to customize the layout.
Permanent links allow your audience to go back to the video after it ends. This can be a good option if someone misses your webinar.
Stream options give you control over-optimizing the latency of your webinar. Lower latency can be a good option where you need to interact with your audience. The tradeoff for lower latency is lower video quality.
YouTube also gives you the option of scheduling events for your webinar. Once you create the event, you can customize the promotion message and share the event automatically on Google+ and Twitter.
Zoom allows you to host up to 100 attendees for free with a standard account. Webinars under this plan are limited to 40-minute sessions which can be a good option if you’re doing shorter daily or weekly webinars. For recording options, Zoom records the webinars locally on your computer.
There is a chrome extension available that allows you to handle scheduling from your Google Calendar or Outlook. You can sync your calendar with your schedule to show open slots in your scheduling for 1 to 1 session.
Scalable for attendees ranging from 100-10,000 participants. Large scale webinars are view only for participants.
Linux and Chrome OS support for hosting your webinars.
Webinars can be broadcasted to Facebook Live and YouTube to reach a wider audience.
Accessibility features including closed captioning and keyboard shortcuts. The webinars are also compatible with screen readers.
Registration and post-webinar reporting tools.
Zoom integrates with Zapier and Paypal to allow your to monetize your webinar broadcasts.
Ability to split the webinar into 50 separate rooms or less for breakout sessions. This can be a good feature if you want the participants to break up into small groups for activities.
Integrates with various business apps to increase functionality. Includes content sharing apps like OneDrive, Google Drive, and others to allow access to your mobile device. There is also integration with marketing and process automation apps to get attendees registered and event reminders. Some examples include Hubspot, Infusionsoft, and other apps.
Consistent experience across platforms.
Free account for up to 100 attendees and for a 40-minute webinar. Pro accounts start at $14.99/month/user with no duration limits. Pricing scales up for when you need more than 100 attendees for your webinars.
OpenMeetings is an open-source webinar software option that provides both audio and video capabilities. The program can be integrated into your own website using the API, and can be supported on Linux natively. There are 4 audio/video options available: audio+video, audio-only, video only, and picture only. You can also control which input devices to use as a source, the camera resolution, and the audio and video quality of the webinar.
Various community members have also added integration with different business marketing apps to provide you with leads from attendee registration.
Record full sessions (including audio/video sources) and download in AVI/FLV files.
Watch and organize webinar recordings using the integrated file-explorer.
Each webinar room has public and private drives available. This can be helpful for storing handouts for attendees on the public drive, and you can place files for the presentation on the private drive.
Multi-whiteboard can use various tools and display different document file types. You can draw, write, and drag n drop items for attendees to view.
Moderation system allows you to tailor permissions for every user.
Create and plan webinars using the integrated calendar. Invited attendees will receive an email with webinar details.
The private messaging centre allows you to manage attendees and send out webinar invites to your contact list.
Backup user-generated data into zip files for future use.
Customize poll questions to engage with attendees during the webinar.
Free. uses an open-source license.
Selecting the right webinar platform
How do you choose the best platform for your webinar?
Using the right webinar software can help funnel sales, and build up your credibility. No single platform will work for every business, and finding the right one can be overwhelming. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a webinar platform.
How easy is the software to use?
If you’re running the webinar solo, can you operate the system without assistance? Some software is designed for large scale webinars that have a team assisting the speaker. You want to select on software that fits the size and style of your team.
How big of a webinar are you planning?
Many webinar packages scale in cost based on the participants’ you anticipate. You can also consider how often you’ll run a webinar. Some companies will offer discounts for annual subscriptions. This can be a good option if you’re running a schedule of webinars over a period of time.
Which companies give you a test drive?
A free trial can be a good way of testing out features for your business. It can also give you the opportunity to make sure that the features will be helpful to your webinar.
Do you want to monetize your webinar?
For some businesses, getting new leads may be the goal of providing the webinar. Some webinar platforms will give you the option of charging for the webinar, while others you will have to download a copy of your webinar for hosting on another website.
How will you run the webinar?
If you don’t need video options, you can choose from platforms that offer audio services. If you plan on having a co-presenter, you will want to select a platform that allows for multiple hosts. Some examples can include conducting interviews and hosting as a panel.
What kind of data do you want to gather from the webinars?
If you’re already using a CRM or marketing automation platform, you will want to select a webinar platform that integrates with your business apps. This can be helpful for generating leads and getting information that can be helpful for following up with your attendees.
Choosing the right platform means selecting the features that work best for your webinar. Several of the free options can offer a lot of resources to help you reach out to your audience, and can reduce the need to monetize your webinar.
At the end of the day, you want to make money off of your efforts. This can come from selling your webinars as content, or indirectly by turning leads into clients.
What webinar solutions have worked best for you? What features are “must-have”? If you have any thoughts on the webinar options, or you would like to share your webinar experiences, please comment below.