By the way, this is Part 2 in my 3-Part ‘30 Day Webinar Challenge’ write-up.

To read Part 1, The Webinar Oscars, go here.

Part 3, Now That’s What I Call a Webinar, is here.

Webinars aren’t going anywhere soon, right?

Even CES 2021 has announced it’s going digital.

So that means lots more virtual events, lots more webinars and lots more lining the pockets of the webinar software providers.

All jokes aside, I have to admit that Zoom has become one of my ‘most used tools’ in recent months – not just for work, but also for the weekend family games.

(If you’re a bit of a board game geek like the Westley family are, then check out Board Game Arena for online versions of popular board and card games – my particular fave is Hanabi!)

 

Sorry, where were we?

Oh yes, webinar software.

The Good, The Bad

 

You’ll find plenty of reviews on the likes of Capterra for webinar tools to use.


I’ve put together a handy little table just below to help too. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it does include a few extra tips on the stuff that’s important to the viewer, not just the host.

9 times out of 10 though, it won’t be the software you use so much as the engagement and connection you create with your audience.

And for that, I’d recommend skipping the table and jumping straight to The Funnies.

 

PROS

CONS

Zoom

– Great for working across different devices and platforms.

– Good Free plan.

– Lots of interactive options including polls, etc.

– Zoom actually has quite a few features that not many know about. Like the ability for viewers to add ‘stamps’ to whatever is on screen, or write notes on the slide you’re sharing. Just check out the Viewing options menu!

– Free plan only allows up to 45 mins.

– Interface can be difficult to navigate if you don’t know your way around.

– No additional marketing capabilities – it’s just for the video event, nothing else.

ON24

– You’ll be in good company with the other big brands that use it.

– Gives the host a ton of options for sharing content, resources, etc.

– That same pro for the host is a con for the viewer – the interface is distracting and messy!

– ON24 email reminders are pretty poor, a lot of them don’t even say who the organiser is.

WebinarNinja

– Apparently integrates well with a bunch of CRM platforms.

– Lots of landing page templates to choose from too.

– The interface for the viewer was great too – clean, crisp and good at balancing the different speakers and slides.

– You can’t add radio or check box opt-in fields to the registration form for the host (although I’m assured it’s coming soon!).

– Sometimes glitchy when running the live webinars themselves.

BrightTalk

– Great for the host brand – it’s more than just a webinar tool, it’s a marketing platform to reach lots of subscribers too.

– A totally unpleasant experience for the viewer.

– Give away your life’s details to register, then receive multiple marketing emails a day…

Live YouTube stream

– It’s becoming more and more popular and a viable option that obviously fits with many other online and social media channels better than standalone tools!

– Ability to do most of what you’d do in the likes of Zoom, e.g. chat function.

– It’s not a dedicated webinar tool so don’t expect it to do lots of whizz bang things.

Whereby

– A lesser-known webinar tool with a lovely brand and team.

– Good ‘Reactions’ feature to accommodate more subtle  audience engagement.

– More focused on small businesses.

– Limited features if you did want to try and scale up the usage.

Livestorm

– Another interface quite like WebinarNinja – clean, crisp and great for viewing. – Free plan is limited, especially in terms of webinar length.

Now, just in case you are seriously reviewing your options and wanted some exclusive advice from the brains behind a couple of these tools…

 

👉 👉  Here’s a few tips from the CEO of WebinarNinja himself in this Twitter thread. Omar Zenhom talks through his TOKYO method and the importance of building trust.

 

👉 👉  Here’s some personal advice from the Co-Founder and CTO of Whereby, Ingrid Odegaard: 

“Webinars are a great way of keeping up with industry trends and learning from others, especially when conferences are no longer taking place. They’re also a great opportunity to socialize and network when everyone is working from home!

My top 3 tips for great webinars are:

1) Prepare well; have a well-structured presentation or talk ready and rehearsed, and do a prep session with any external speakers to make sure they are well-prepared and have all the tech working.

2) Make the audience engage; encourage people to submit questions in advance and during the conversation, to touch on the topics that people are interested in.

3) Follow up and remind people in advance to make sure they don’t forget, and to get as good a turnout as possible.”

The Funnies!

 

Now for the funnies, the stuff that’s actually going to make a difference to your webinar and get you some proper engagement with your audience.

Number 1.

Use Polls, Quizzes and Competitions

 

It’s one of the easiest ways to engage your audience, especially if you’re catering to lots of different people who may not want to be vocal in asking questions or taking part in break-out rooms! 

Now, most webinar tools will have these things built-in, but if you’re looking for some additional inspiration, try these:

  • Mentimeter.com is an interactive presentation and meeting tool where you can spin up polls, quizzes and even word clouds.
  • Kahoot! is another quiz tool where viewers can interact via their mobile devices.

If you’ve read the Part 1 write-up on my Webinar Challenge, you’ll know that Turtl make great use of Mentimeter on their webinars.

Definitely check out their Coffee Chat Series for ideas!

 

Number 2.

Goats

Yes, you read it right – GOATS!!

If you don’t believe me, then head over here to find out more.

As you’d expect, a goat will join your video meeting for 5 minutes.

You can even pick from different personalities too.

The goat above for example is called Mary – she has a limited attention span and is totalling fine peeing in front of you!

Need I say more! 

 

Number 3.

Interesting backgrounds 

 

If you’re using Zoom, then this is a real quick win.

It’s also a great conversation starter for when you open up the webinar and are explaining to people where you’re dreaming of being right now!

Luckily for us, Zoom backgrounds are now ‘a thing’ and the number of sites producing them has EXPLODED!!

 

Here’s just a few for inspiration:

Zoom Background – 1000+ free, crowdsourced backgrounds.

HiHello – lets you add your name, title, company, and logo to create your own virtual background.

Canva – have just released a free Zoom background creator with over 100 templates and customisation options.

VirtualOffice – branded virtual offices for your remote team’s Zoom meetings.

Actionable background – a way to personalise your Zoom with QR codes and interactive backgrounds.

And perhaps my favourite…

3D Rooms Project –  which makes illustrated iconic rooms available as free Zoom backgrounds.

 

Oh, and there’s also Goodhousekeeping.com for everything from Hallmark movies to Star Wars!

My particular favourite are:

Number 4.

mmhmm

 

Weirdly enough, as I was writing out this article, an email landed in my inbox as follows:

I was in to the exclusive Beta of mmhmm!! 🥳 🎉

Created by Phil Lubin of All Turtles, this app is HOT OFF THE PRESS. 

It’s designed to say goodbye to boring decks, and hello to more engaging and immersive presentations.

Now it’s only in Beta at the moment and personally, I’ll need to spend a bit more time getting to grips with the host interface and how it all works.

But what I’ve seen so far, it looks promising and if nothing else, it is sure to starting shaking up the virtual events industry a bit!

If you fancy joining the wait list to try out the fun for yourself, then go here.

Number 5.

Budget no object

 

If you really want to go mad and have oodles of cash to splash on your virtual events, then try out one or more of these. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more like them in the not too distant future, although for now, not everyone attending your event may have the right equipment, so bear that in mind before you go all gung-ho!

  • Spatial – with Spatial, you create your own 3-D realistic avatar, who then comes to life in different settings that you control from your computer and webcam. It’s still a bit futuristic but worth a play!
  • Immersed VR like Spatial but with virtual reality and the associated headsets.
  • Teooh – another one based on scary avatars like the above and that can even be used for podcast settings too.

 

Number 6.

The all-important recording

 

Or is it… 🤔  🤔

 

One of the webinars in my 30 Day Challenge did something interesting here.

See that last line – NO RECORDING!!! 

And why? Because they then re-ran the event itself in order to maximise engagement.

 

So consider this before you do the deed:

  • Are you actually interested in engaging with your audience?
  • If so, then bear in mind that a recording might not work when played back – a lot of the spark may be lost.
  • If engagement isn’t that important, then consider doing a pre-canned thing from the off and save yourself the stress of running a live event.

 

If you do insist on the recording though, then here’s an idea or two to make it work harder.

 

👉  Do a TL:DW summary – a bit like the email above. Your viewers will appreciate you’ve taken the time to summarise the best bits and saved them the time of watching it back!

👉  ‘Instagram for webinars’. Why not add some animation to the recording and get creative with video editing software. 

Wordstream have put together a list of great packages here that you can use – just take your recording, add some fun overlays, emojis and animations, and create a whole new experience for your viewer too!

 

My last piece of advice when it comes to Webinar Tools…

Whether you’re a host or a viewer, remember to clean your headphones regularly!

After 42 of the things (and a load of other video calls each day too), I should know.

Thanks for reading! Now head to the final part here.