Webinars can be a great way to generate interest in your product or service. They can also be used for training, group meetings, and product launches. But finding the right webinar software can be a challenge.
With the right webinar tools, you can engage your audience and create a meaningful connection with webinar participants. So, it's important to choose carefully.
In this article, I provide an overview of over 15 of the best free and premium online webinar software available. I'll also discuss some features you may wish to look for in your choice of webinar software. You'll also learn a little about what makes a great webinar and I'll direct you to additional resources to help you learn even more about webinars.
How to Find the Right Webinar Tools for You
Whether you're a business, an organization, a start-up, or an individual—you want to find the right webinar software for your needs. However, webinar needs vary depending on why you're planning a webinar. In this section I list some of the common features that businesses and others look for when selecting webinar software. Your own needs may vary.
Here are some features and capabilities that you might want in your webinar tool:
- Security. Depending on the purpose of your webinar tool, you may want to limit access to your webinar. You may also wish to keep the list of attendees private as well as their contact information. If you charge for your webinar, you'll want to keep attendee payment information secure.
- Number of attendees. Many webinar platforms determine the pricing partially based on the number of webinar attendees. This makes sense since more attendees require more resources. You'll want to choose a webinar platform that can accommodate both the planned number of attendees and your budget.
- Audience engagement. The difference between a great webinar and a boring webinar is often the degree of audience engagement. Good webinar software includes tools to help you interact with your audience such as the ability to use chat, polls and questionnaires, and Q&A sessions during your webinar.
- Screen sharing. The ability to show your attendees what's on your screen can be important for training webinars. The feature is also helpful if you're using your webinar to market software or online tools. Consider carefully whether you need this feature in your webinar software tool.
- Record. Many webinar hosts want the ability to record the webinar. This can be helpful if you want to review the webinar. You may also wish to reshare the webinar recording on your website or online. Some webinar tools automatically record webinars.
- Analytics. The ability to measure and track data related to your webinar can be useful. But be careful when selecting a webinar platform that offers this feature. Make sure that the analytics offered measure what you need them to measure.
- Technical Support. When selecting any online or software tool it's important to consider the availability of technical support. Technical support can be helpful if something goes wrong or if you just have a question as you're setting your webinar up.
These are just some of the features you may want to consider when you do a webinar software comparison. Now that we've discussed what to look for in a webinar tool, let's take a look at what makes a great webinar.
What Makes a Great Webinar?
If you're planning a webinar, you want to make sure that your webinar is successful. In fact, you want your webinar to be great.
Here are four things you need to do to create a great webinar experience:
- Focus on your audience. First of all, make sure you understand who you're trying to communicate with in your webinar. Find out what they already know and what they need to know and offer it to them in an engaging fashion.
- Deliver top-notch content. Make sure your webinar offers current information that's useful and relevant for your audience. Do the research necessary to provide them with information they can actually use.
- Plan and practice. If your webinar is going to be live, plan it for a time when you know that most of your intended audience will be available. Once you've set up a time and created your live webinar content, be sure to practice going through it.
- Promote. Now that you've got a webinar planned, you need to promote it. Send out registration invites through email, social media, and other tools. It's also helpful to send reminders slightly before the webinar to those who're registered to attend.
Do you want to learn more about creating a great webinar experience? Here are some tutorials that'll help:
- SalesHow to Plan & Create Sales Webinars That ConvertBrenda Barron
- Live StreamingThinking of Getting Into Live Video Streaming? Here's Where to StartHarry Guinness
- ScreencastsHow to Go Live! Why Artists Should Create Live Streams and ScreencastsMelody Nieves
- WebinarsHow to Create Webinar Landing Pages (That Get Registrations)Brenda Barron
Start With a Great Slideshow
In many cases, you'll want to incorporate a slideshow into your webinar. Just as with a live presentation, a good slideshow can convey information effectively during a webinar.
In order to create an attention-getting slideshow, you'll want to use a professionally designed slideshow template. The best way to do that is to choose a top-notch provider that offers proven presentation templates such as Envato Elements.
For a low monthly cost, you can choose between hundreds of different attention-getting slideshow templates. With Envato Elements, you download as many templates as you need as many times as you need to. You'll have access to other digital assets as well such as professionally-designed WordPress themes, video tutorials, and more.
If all you want is single professionally-designed slideshow template, GraphicRiver is a great option. Browse through the myriad of eye-catching slideshow templates and download the one you want for a reasonable one-time fee.
Live Online Webinar Software Tools
Here's an overview of some of best webinar software tools we could find for you to examine. I've outlined some of the top features for each webinar tool here, but most of these tools contain additional features as well.
When it comes to free webinar software, Google Hangouts is one of your best options if you're on a limited budget. Classic Google Hangouts is still available and may be able to meet a lot your webinar needs. All you need is a Google Account, which you've already got if you've got a Gmail account. Classic Google Hangouts can accommodate up to 25 people. It works on multiple platforms. You can manage who accesses your hangout through your calendar or by controlling who you invite.
To learn more about Google Hangouts, refer to our tutorial:
Another free webinar software option is Facebook live. Nearly everyone has a Facebook account these days, so using Facebook Live makes sense. As you broadcast, your Facebook followers and friends will be able to see your live video. When you're done broadcasting, the video will be published to your Facebook page or profile—which means it could continue to get your message out there long after your webinar is over. If you need to, you can determine who sees your webinar video by publishing it as a secret video (which means that only people who've got the webinar URL will be able access them).
3. YouTube Live
You may not think of it as a free webinar service, but YouTube live can be used to host webinars. First of all, Google Hangouts can integrate with YouTube, so you could expand your Google Hangouts audience by streaming it through YouTube. In fact, some premium webinar tools actually use YouTube in the background. When you're finished streaming your video, you can choose to publish it. For some tools to help you produce a better YouTube webinar, review the following tutorial:
Your company or organization may already by using Skype for IMs or phone calls, so making use of it for webinars could make sense. In a Skype group call, you can include up to 25 people in your webinar. Up to nine people can participate in a group video call. With the Skype Meeting Broadcast feature (part of Skype for business) you can broadcast your webinar to as many as 10,000 people at once. Another cool Skype feature that could be useful is screen sharing. You can let your webinar participants see exactly what you're doing.
5. Cisco Webex
Cisco Webex is one of the more popular online meeting and event hosting tools. With Webex you get specific tools for exactly what you want to do. Choose between hosting events for as many as 3,000 people, meetings for up to 40,000 people, or training (including testing and grading) for up to 1,000. You can share your screen with participants. Control who accesses the webinar by setting up a personal meeting room. The Webex webinar tool also includes technical support.
If you've recently taken classes, you may already be familiar with Blackboard as a training tool. But what many people don't know is that Blackboard has solutions for businesses including web conferencing software. If the purpose of your webinar is training, this is an excellent option. It lets you manage webinar registration, create a training plan, integrate video, and more.
GoToWebinar is well-known for their online meeting software. Their online software tool is just as reliable and just as popular. There are three levels of this tool available, based on the number of webinar participants. If you need to keep a lot of information about your webinar, this is a good tool since all levels include reports and analytics. The webinar tool also includes some nice features such as the ability to create polls, include handouts, and have a Q&A session. Plus, record your webinar locally or online.
Livestream is exactly what it sounds like: a livestreaming tool. But, it's also useful as webinar software because it includes the ability to conduct a real-time moderated chat. It's also useful if you want to stream to Facebook Live or YouTube. And it includes analytics. One of the nice things about this webinar software is that training and support are available.
Another one of the popular webinar platforms is WebinarJam. This easy-to-use webinar tool lets you control who participates in your webinar with password-protected webinar rooms. Boost your audience engagement using interactive tools like polls and chat. Also, WebinarJam automatically records your webinar. And you can get webinar analytics such as sales tracking, making it a great tool for marketing webinars. As a premium webinar tool, support is available.
If you're looking for automated webinar software, EverWebinar (from the makers of WebinarJam) may be what you need. The automated webinars you set up with EverWebinar will seem like live webinars. Autoresponders are built in to this webinar too. Or, you can choose to do an automated webinar with a live chat moderator. The tool includes analytics and tracking. Plus, support is available to help setting up your automated webinar go smoothly.
Zoom is a good webinar tool if you're on a budget, especially if the webinars you need to host are relatively short. At its most basic level Zoom webinar software is free. At the basic level you can host up to 100 participants and hold up to a 40-minute group meeting. For longer meetings or more participants, several premium plans are available. Zoom video conferencing features include simultaneous screen share and you can set up breakout rooms. Online support is available, even at the free level.
The ClickMeeting webinar tool has a variety of plans available based on the number attenders you expect, up to 5000 attendees. This tool lets you create polls and surveys, has chat features, allows for screen sharing. It lets you track webinar statistics. Another nice feature is desktop sharing. And you can record your webinar as well.
When reviewing webinar platforms, you'll want to look at Demio. This software offers a variety of plans based on webinar attendees. Choose a plan ranging from 100 attendees to 1000 attendees (and possibly more). You can share your screen, conduct polls and surveys, and more. This tool also records your webinars automatically. Analytics are also included. 24/7 technical support is available, even at the most basic level.
Another one of the best webinar software tools out there is Livestorm. This webinar software can accommodate anywhere from 89 to 500 attendees, based on the plan you choose. It includes many opportunities for audience engagement including chat, pools, and Q&A. It also supports screensharing. Limit who can access your webinar by setting it up as private. Webinar analytics are included.
MegaMeeting v.4 webinar software is currently in beta, but it's got some promising features so it deserves a place on our list. It includes screen sharing, chat, and recording. It also features secure connections with end-to-end encryption and other security features as well.
WebinarNinja has a plan for anywhere from 100 to 1000 attendees. You can also create automated webinars with any plan for an unlimited number of attendees. Auto recording is also included with all webinar software packages as is the ability to share screens and incorporate other interactive features such as polls and Q&A. All plans also include technical support.
You've just explored webinar software tools. We've explored what features you may want in a webinar tool as well as how to create a great webinar. You've also learned about over 15 different webinar tools, including some free webinar software. You're ready to do a webinar software comparison and then it's time to go ahead and start planning your webinar. Good luck!
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