Published by Timonie Hood on 06 Aug 2009 at 09:00 pm
We have been spending a lot of time understanding the ins and outs of webinars. In particular how to run them and what tools to use. Recently we attended a great ‘webinar on webinars’ held by George Kao, a WiserEarth community member. Here we share some of his and our best insights.
Webinar stands for web based seminar. They are live presentation conducted over the internet usually where a presenter shares powerpoint slides, an audience listens over VOIP or a telephone conference call, and may also interact via chat. Often webinars are recorded so that they can be viewed later on by people who couldn’t make the scheduled time and for use as training materials.
First here are a number of useful tips to bear in mind as you set-up your webinar:
- Publicize your webinar using social media where your target audience congregates (e.g. Facebook, WiserEarth, Twitter or LinkedIn)
- Establish partnerships with key players in your field – ones that have large networks so you can expand your outreach and increase your attendance
- Seek brief feedback in the advance signup process – e.g. “What’s the best webinar title for this session?”
- Work hard on your slides and include your best materials
- Pretest your webinar with a smaller audience to get feedback and testimonials
- Share your slides in advance so that attendees will know what the webinar is about and come prepared and interested
- Make it easy for participants to take the actions you want – e.g. direct them to a quick signup or donation process
- Keep it short with 10-20 slides of catchiest content
- Don’t be afraid to oversubscribe your webinar e.g. This free live session is over capacity in RSVPs, so dial in at least 3 minutes early to ensure you have a seat.
- Base timing on your audience’s schedule – Tues. or Wed. at 2pm PST recommended for international presentations
There are many webinar providers with a wide range of features and options. They all provide some combination of slide presentation, screen sharing, integrated VOIP, along side conference call, and chat:
- Webex – full featured but reasonable, for an extra fee you can have toll-free dial-in numbers around the world
- GoToMeeting – similar feature set to Webex
- ReadyTalk – a smaller provider used by many in the nonprofit community
- Adobe Acrobat Connect – smooth interface but on the pricey side
On the audio side there are a number of conference call options. Unfortunately non of them work particularly well for international calls – usually people have to call in to a US based number using a local calling card to their reduce costs. You can use Skype for small numbers of people but it can bring echos and static into two-way conversations. In general, ask your audience to mute their phones and avoid noisy locations like internet cafes.
- InstantConference.com (up to 150 people) – No hassle, and free including MP3 recording
- NoCostConference.com (up to 250 people) – free, but the recording comes back as WAV. Web interface allows you to see attendees’ complete phone numbers
- FreeConference.com (up to 150 people) – free, with premium service for recording, does allow for screen sharing for a fee
- SimpleEvent.com (up to 1,000 listen-only attendees) — can have up to 96 “panelists” (people talking at once)
Also consider the following supplemental tools to round out your toolbox:
- Slideshare – to share your presentation both before and after the webinar (as an added bonus you can embed in your blog or website)
- TweetChat – a chatroom where twitter users can automatically add a hashtag and interact via a chat-like function
- MediaFire.com – for uploading and sharing a link to a recording of your webinar
- YouTube – a good place to share any video recordings, remember to upload in HD for better viewing
Stay tuned to this blog because webinars on ‘How to use WiserEarth’ are coming soon. What topics you’d like to see covered? Drop me an email at timonie [at] wiserearth.org.
And a finally a big thanks to George, for sharing such a great webinar and your leadership on sustainability.We posted his original presentation up on slideshare so you can view it for yourself below. And if you want to attend one of his future webinars go to the WebinarMethod.com.
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Tags: communication tools
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