Choosing A Webinar Service Provider

July 14, 2011

Webinars. They are seminars online. Or at least that’s an easy way to describe them.  They are great marketing tools and a great way to provide education and training.  I have produced many webinars and as a speaker I have used many platforms supplied by various organizations who have hired me. So when my friend Katie asked me for some advice on selecting a webinar provider, I had lots of thoughts for her.  As I replied to her via email, I realized that it would probably make a nice blog post.

So here are my thoughts on what to consider when looking for a webinar service.

1. How easy is it to use? Can new presenters figure it out with little training? Can you quickly upload presentation with little lead time?
2. Does it support video? Video can greatly enhance a presentation, but many webinar services only offer audio connections. If video is important to your audience, make sure that your webinar service supports it.
3. How many people can present at once? Having multiple presenters can really enhance a webinar. How many people can be presenters/moderators/hosts at a time? How easy is it for them to communicate with each other?
4. What type of recording capabilities does it have? Many times you will want to replay a webinar.  Can the service record? Will it capture audio, video and  a presentation? Can it capture screen sharing activity?
5. Price. This one is obvious, but some services have flat rates and some have pay-per-viewer plans. Make sure that you understand the price structure. In some case the webinar service and audio may have different fees associated with them.
6. Number of users it supports.  Some services limit the number of viewers.  You will want to check these limits before signing up.
7. Screen sharing capabilities.  Does the service support screen sharing and how easy is it for a presenter to share their screen? Do they need to share their entire desktop or can they simply share an application?
8. Is it Mac compatible? For the Mac lovers, it’s hard to believe that not everyone supports Apple products, but it’s true.  It’s a good idea to make sure that your platform supports both PC and Mac formats to keep everyone happy.
9. Does it have built in invites? Will it store your mailing list? Webinars are only beneficial if people tune in. How easy is it to invite people to the webinar? What does an invite look like? How much customization can be done?
10. Does it support VOIP or do presenters have to call in via phone? Every webinar service treats audio differently. Some services allow speakers to use their phone or their computer microphone and stream the audio through the computer. Some only support phone audio for both the speaker and audience.

If you have purchased a webinar service, what are some things that were important to you on the selection process?