Even before the current pandemic situation necessitated alternatives to face-to-face meetings, webinars have slowly but surely been established as valuable and viable online means for interaction. Webinar platforms have provided an avenue through which people all over the world can share knowledge and ideas, conduct online training, advertise products and services, and more.
To help get you started, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to host a webinar and the best webinar platforms to conduct your virtual meetings on.
What Is a Webinar and How Does It Work?
Webinars, short for web-based seminars, are video conferences conducted in an engaging, interactive manner. It involves gathering people from anywhere in the world in one virtual conference room with a speaker or group of speakers delivering a presentation, where the audience can interact with the content, the hosts, and with each other. This is made possible through webinar software that utilizes video conferencing tools and combines them with various features that facilitate webinar activity.
Most webinars last for 45-60 minutes and follow this structure: the host or presenter talks about a specific topic (usually aided by interactive webinar services to facilitate the exchange of information), a Q&A session during which the audience may use chat or their mics to speak should the host allow it, and then a survey or feedback inquiry for the participants at the end. A recording of the event is usually sent to them, particularly for the benefit of those who joined late or missed some parts of the conference.
How to Set Up a Webinar
Webinars follow the same structure applied when doing a presentation, conducting interviews, sharing informational material, or promoting products and services. As such, preparation for webinars follows the same format.
To help you maximize the platform, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide on how to create a webinar.
Determine your purpose
As with all meetings and presentations, a lot of planning is involved prior to hosting an event. Start by determining the purpose of your webinar—identifying if it’s educational or promotional—and what you hope to achieve by the end of it. Not only will this help shape the topic, format, and structure of your webinar, but this will also help in your assessment of the event afterward.
Choose the topic, title, and webinar format
Make sure your topic is specific and timely, as these characteristics will be the draw for your audience. After you’ve chosen the topic, think of a catchy title that would interest potential participants enough to find out more.
The next step is establishing the webinar format that you’re going to employ. Just to give you an idea, webinar formats can be generally classified as either online courses, informational or knowledge-sharing, or promotional webinars.
Online courses, which comprise 35.6% of the webinars in one platform, are largely utilized as remote learning tools for both students and professionals alike. Meanwhile, informational webinars usually involve content recaps, audits, case studies, Q&As, interviews, and list building sessions.
These webinars aim to share knowledge with their audience, whether through topic discussions or an interview with an expert. Then, in promotional webinars, sales activities such as product demo (also known as deminars), and online summits or open houses, are typically virtually conducted. These webinars seek to promote or advertise products or services, with selling as the goal.
Some platforms specialize in specific formats, so it’s best to decide on one at this point.
Make the outline and finetune the structure
Making an outline is basically breaking down the topic into parts and arranging them in a coherent, logical manner. One of the factors to keep in mind when making an outline is the timeframe of your webinar. According to the latest webinar reports, the average viewing time of participants is 53-57 minutes. Find a good balance between information and pacing, so that your audience will have time to digest the presentation.
Here are some basic notes on structure:
- Always start with a warm and welcoming message for your audience.
- Affirm what the webinar is for so participants can be sure that they’re in the right virtual space.
- State the agenda or outline of the webinar to help your audience understand what to expect in the next hour or so.
- Don’t forget to introduce yourself and your company or affiliated institutions, and your guests, if applicable.
- Deliver the content promised in your invitations and in your agenda.
- Hold a Q&A portion to address the questions that the participants may have on the topic.
If you’re having trouble structuring your webinar, it may be helpful to watch other webinars available just to gain a better idea of different feels and flows.
Check the equipment and environment
Since webinars involve live videos or are, in some cases, prerecorded, equipment like microphones, headsets, and cameras are necessary. Make sure you have these handy and in good condition before the event. It’s also wise to have a backup set just in case. If you’re going to need additional people for your webinar, make sure you have tapped them weeks in advance so that there’s ample time to brief them on the workings of the webinar.
Also, determine beforehand where you’re going to conduct your webinar, whether it’s in your office or living room, and make sure that the venue is neat, presentable, and private enough to protect the event from interruptions.
Do a general equipment check prior to the start of your event to make sure that everything is working and that the audio and video output are clear and crisp.
Choose a webinar platform
Your purpose and your chosen webinar format will help determine which platform would best help you achieve your goals. While some platforms are browser-based, others may require downloading additional software. Later in this article, we’ll be sharing our picks for the best webinar platforms available today.
Schedule your webinar
Scheduling your webinar is fairly easy, as you only need to log into the platform of your choice and set the date and time. Reports found that webinars scheduled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays attract the most attendees. The ideal times to schedule are 10 AM, 2 PM, 3 PM, and 4 PM. As for duration, webinars that last for 60 minutes attract the highest number of registrants. Remember that these are general stats. If you’re looking to target a specific audience, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to find out about their preferred days and times.
Promote your webinar
It’s best to promote early and as often as you can, across all the channels at your disposal. Webinars that are promoted at least one month before their schedule, mostly have around a 12% increase in registration. Make sure to continue your promotion until the big day, as 59% of registrations normally occur in the week leading to the webinar date, and some people wait the day before or on the day itself to register.
Also, keep in mind that 57% of the registrations frequently come through e-mail registrations. After sending the initial invitation via e-mail, it’s always a good idea to do follow-ups in the weeks leading up to your event. However, be careful not to spam your recipients, as this can turn them off. Regular and frequent promotion can instead be coursed through your social media accounts, or you can even set up a countdown timer on your website.
Top 5 Best Webinar Platforms
Now that you know how to make a webinar, let’s take a look at the best webinar software available on the market today to help you choose the one best suited to your needs.
The main selling point of ClickMeeting is its simple user-friendly interface, which makes it the ideal platform to start with if you’re new to hosting webinars. It features easily customizable layouts so you can align your webinar look with your branding.
It also has virtual waiting rooms for participants who log in before the webinar starts. You can opt to provide more information here as they wait. Another one of ClickMeeting’s draws is its integration with PayPal. With this feature, you can easily monetize webinar content.
- Best for handling large groups
- Subaccounts for team assignments
- Wide array of useful engagement features
- Lacks options for break-out sessions
- Exporting videos may take some time
WebinarJam is a browser-based webinar platform that’s focused on marketing and sales. Features like call-to-action pop-ups, countdown timers, and live updates on purchases make it ideal for those who are hosting marketing webinars.
It also has strong e-mail integration with tools that enable you to tag attendees based on their participation in your webinar, which makes it easier to do marketing follow-ups afterward. Overall, this is a solid platform for salespeople and marketers.
- Good stream quality
- Webinar broadcasting up to 6 presenters
- Option to temporarily turn an attendee into a presenter
- Overcrowded user interface
- Some delay in video and sound
WebinarGeek is geared towards businesses. It allows you to manage live and prerecorded webinars and to stream presentations. Its customizable branding option allows you to customize the registration page to better reflect your company and establish brand identity.
Besides offering paid webinars, it also assists in the generation of reports that analyze individual behavior based on your preferred metrics.
- Allows contact importation
- Useful interaction tools
- Helpful customer service
- Missing channel customization options
- Sheets too small to read on mobile
Livestorm offers a variety of modules and tools for various formats such as product demos, online courses, hiring sessions, live events, and more. Its e-mail logistics enables you to send automated promotional e-mails, which you can personalize and check the status of.
You can also be sure that your data is secure, as this platform is GPDR-compliant.
- Marketing automation
- Detailed analytics, tracking, and report
- Customizable landing pages
- 1,000 max attendees
- Recording quality could be better
The webinar platform for larger companies and businesses, GoToWebinar can accommodate up to 5,000 attendees. Besides its large capacity, it also features real-time analytics, breakout rooms, and integration tools for CRMs.
Its engagement dashboard lets you keep track of your participants’ attentiveness, which is helpful, as this enables you to detect the parts or topics that interest your audience the most.
- Advanced analytics and reports
- Channel source tracking
- Seamless tool integration
- Stream e-liability issues may arise
- Brand customization limited only to logos
Webinar Platforms FAQs
What is the best webinar software?
It really depends on the purpose of your webinar, as different platforms offer different features, with some geared towards specific users. If you’re looking for the best webinar software for marketing, ClickMeeting is our pick. For the best webinar surface for a novice, WebinarJam, or Zoom are the easiest to navigate through.
Does Zoom work well for hosting webinars?
Yes, Zoom works well for hosting webinars, thanks to its handy features, such as automatic recording, screen sharing, live broadcast options, and interactive features. It also offers basic webinar features for free, so you can try it out before subscribing to a plan.
How can I host a webinar for free?
To host a webinar for free, you can simply go for the free trial option or any of the webinar platforms we’ve listed above.
How to set up a webinar?
Setting up a webinar is pretty easy once you’ve set a topic and have the necessary equipment at hand. You just have to sign in on a platform of your choice and select the date and time for your webinar. Most platforms have automated e-mail invitations, but it’s best to do your own event promotion.
As with any endeavor, hosting a webinar requires a lot of preparation, rehearsing, and promotion. The important thing, especially when the day you go live comes, is to constantly keep the purpose of your webinar in mind.
Also, hosting webinars don’t end with the event itself. It’s important for you to analyze surveys and feedback so that you’d know your areas of improvement. Lastly, be sure to follow up and stay connected with both your registrants and participants so you can invite them to your next webinars.