This part three of a three part series on webinars. In this episode, I'll show you a few of the technical secrets about how I deliver the actual webinars. I'm going to cover which of the paid-for webinar services that I recommend, how to deliver webinars for free, and which platforms are trending right now.
If you missed either of the first two session, you can access them by clicking these links. The first session was 7 Important Things that You Need to Know about Webinars. I told you types of content that work really well in webinars and types of content that can be very bad. Last week, we covered How to Create Webinar Content to Maximize Audience Retention. In that episode, I shared with you a step-by-step process that you can use to design webinar content so that your audience will pay attention.
Nuts and Bolts about How to Deliver Webinars.
Free Webinar Software for Smaller Groups
If you have 10 or fewer people, and you want to lead a webinar, just about any platform will do. In fact, many webinar platforms are free if you have fewer than 10 people. The most popular small-group webinar platforms, though, are Google Hangouts and Skype. Many of us have used Skype or Google Hangouts for chat, phone calls, or video chat. As a result, the ease of using them for webinars is much greater than learning a new platform.
My wife is from Ireland, so we have long used both Skype and Hangouts to make international video calls for free. I use Skype when I interview people for the podcast as well. You have a limit of 10 people before having to upgrade. I think for Skype, it used to be 25, but the documentation I looked at preparing for this session now says the limit is 10. Still, though, for most people who want to do webinars these are really good options.
Download the Free How to Create Webinars Cheatsheet!
Microsoft has Partnered with Skype for Business.
If you happen to be a Microsoft Office 365 user, you likely already have the upgraded Skype for Business platform. This platform is pretty awesome, because it still has the Skype interface that many of us have used before, but it also has the ability to hold webinars with 250 people. Since they are partnered with Microsoft, it is easy to integrate PowerPoint slideshows as well. The main reason why most people would upgrade, though, is so that you can record your meetings. Most often, people register for your meetings, but can't attend. The recording gives you a second chance to share the information with them. Just remember what we talked about a few weeks ago, however. When people watch or listen to the recording, they very rarely view the entire cast. Live attendees often do.
Facebook Live with Private Group
One of the things that we are beginning to do more and more is to conduct private Facebook group live sessions. Obviously, if you are conducting marketing webinars, then the regular Facebook Live service is phenomenal. For those of you who have followed my blog or podcast for a while, last year, I interviewed Tom Antion. Tom is the king of Facebook Live. He will often deliver webinars sitting on his couch in his huge mansion via Facebook. The folks at Ziglar Seminars (Zig Ziglar's company before he past away) do Facebook live mini webinars almost daily.
If you work for a company, though, and you are looking for a way to communicate face-to-face, then just set up an invite-only private Facebook group.
So, this is when I often get asked something like... "But Doug, how do I show a slideshow or visual aid in Facebook live?" Well, Facebook has an option where you can share your screen, now, but to be brutally honest... I'm fairly technical, and I have never been able to get it to work. Plus, I make pretty good money. So, I took a shortcut. I bought a piece of software called Ecamm Live. This software is fantastic. It is a webinar style software package that post the feed live to Facebook. The great part about this is that you can show slideshows and videos while you webcam still has you pictured. SO, instead of having to choose to view the person speaking or your slides, your viewers can view both. If I remember right, I think that Ecamm was like $79.
*** Secret to Webinar Success Using Facebook Live and Ecamm ***
Since Ecamm allows you view video, you can actually create a very polished and profession video of your webinar in advance! Then, start your webinar out with you, live, interacting with your attendees. Then, when you get to the webinar part, just show the prerecorded video. Your group will see a flawless delivery!
Membership Webinar Software
If you conduct a bunch of webinars each year or have more than 25 people in each webinar, you may want to invest in one of the membership platforms. The first big player in this industry was GoToMeeting (GoToWebinar). Between you and I, though, this platform has always been way overpriced. New platforms like Zoom seem to be much more popular, now. You can get a Zoom membership for as little as $15 per month.
The platform that I use, though, is FreeConferenceCall.com. "Why is this your favorite?" you ask. "Well, because it's free!". Back in 2005, my company had about 10 instructors in cities across the US and Canada. One of my instructors came to me and asked if it would be okay to schedule a weekly conference call to share ideas with each other. We had people so far away from each other who all worked from home offices, so this sounded great to me. So, the instructor found a free conference call service that we could use. We used it for over a decade. That is, until the service upgraded to allow video conferences as well.
The service only charges you if you go over a certain memory storage amount. So as long as you download your recorded webinars and delete them from the FreeConferenceCall server, you never have to pay anything. (I have no idea how these guys stay in business.)
Before You Begin, Invest In Good Equipment
You really need three things to conduct a great webinar. First, you need a webinar service like we just talked about. Second, you need a fantastic microphone. Finally, you need a set of in-ear or over-ear headphones.
The absolute best microphone that you can buy for webinars or podcasts is the Blue Yeti Microphone. This microphone is awesome. They are $129 to $159 on Amazon, but they are worth their weight in gold. You should also get the microphone pop filter. This $6 investment will keep your P's from popping when you speak into the mike.
The headphones are critical for both you and your participants. When you are using a nice microphone and the sound comes through your PC or Mac speakers, you will get feedback. It is a very annoying sound, and you will get people dropping off your webinars very quickly if you can't control the sound.
No matter how many times I do webinars, there is always some numbskull who decides to go through a drive-through, has a barking dog, or who cranks up the sound on their PC to hear better. So, feel free to MUTE the participants when you start to present.
Big Mistakes to Avoid
Years ago, I learned that an easy trick where you can both share your screen and keep your face in the webinar to converse with people. Just open up your webcam program on your computer shrink the size of the square down. Then set the webcam view on top of your slideshow or welcome screen on your computer. I had been doing this trick so long, that I forgot why I had started.
A couple of weeks ago, I was doing a webinar, and right before I started, I notices the the webinar program had a camera view. So, I decided to use it instead. When I clicked to camera view, my image shrunk down to a little square in the corner of my screen. I greeted all of my attendees, and started the slideshow. It was a great session. I had great anecdotes for each slide and had funny images to keep the audience entertained. By the end of the session, though, a lot of my attendees had left. I was really confused. That is until I viewed the recording. The entire webinar was of my face talking to the slideshow. I had forgot to switch back from the webcam to the screen-share. My suggestion to you would be... don't do that.