How to Successfully Host an Online Webinar (With Free vs Paid Tools) | How To

A webinar is a great way to engage your audience and boost your revenue. However, there are certain steps that you need to take to ensure your webinar is a success.

The first thing you need to do is decide on the topic of your webinar. Then, you'll need to create an accompanying slide deck that'll help you deliver your webinar presentation. You'll also need to create a landing page so your audience can register for the webinar. Lastly, you'll need to choose the right tool to it.

In this part of the series, we'll cover how to prepare, what tools are available, and how to use one specific free tool to host your webinar. Are you ready to learn how to host a webinar? Let's get started.

Three Key Preparation Steps Before Hosting Your Webinar

Before you go live and actually host your webinar, you'll need to prepare first. This means you'll need to plan out your webinar content, choose the appropriate time and date, and do a practice run first to make sure everything goes smoothly when it's time to go live. Let's address each of those three key preparations steps below:

Step 1. Plan Out Your Webinar Content

Aside from choosing a topic for your webinar and creating an outline that'll help you deliver the main points and ideas, you'll need to plan the presentation as well as how you plan on interacting with and engaging your audience.

Using a premade template can save you time on creating a slide deck from scratch, not to mention you don't have to worry about the design aspect of it. Your slide deck should include your main points as well as any visual aids such as charts, graphs, and illustrations that'll make your presentation more interesting and easier to understand. It should also reflect your brand so it's recommended to include your brand's colors and fonts in your slide deck. Envato Elements is a great resource for finding premade slide deck templates:

Presentation templates
For a low monthly fee, Envato Elements gives you access to hundreds of slide deck templates.

Next, spend some time planning when you'll ask your audience to engage in a conversation as well as how you'll deliver your sales pitch. Are there any questions that you'll ask them about the topic? Will you have a Q&A section at the end? How long will you allow for questions? When will you make your sales pitch?

Step 2. Choose the Appropriate Time

The timing of your webinar plays an important role in how successful your webinar will be. The date and time of your webinar shouldn't overlap with any major events such as sporting events or holidays. Think of your audience and their interests and make sure the timing is convenient not only for them, but for you as well. If you've got any guest speakers or co-hosts, make sure the time and date aligns with their schedule and don't forget to take into consideration their audience.

Another tip to keep in mind is the time you'll spend advertising and promoting your webinar. It goes without saying that you should start marketing your webinar well in advance to ensure your audience has enough time to sign up.

Lastly, don't forget to choose and plan the duration of your webinar. Keep in mind that most people nowadays have busy schedules so avoid choosing a topic that is too broad to cover in a reasonable amount of time. Additionally, if your webinar is too long, you risk losing your audience's interest. On the other hand, if it's too short, you run into problems of not delivering enough value and only caring about the sale. In most cases, an hour is the recommended time for a webinar duration.

Step 3. Practice Hosting a Webinar

The last preparation step is to do a practice run. For this step, you'll need to make sure your slide deck is ready and use your chosen webinar software to host a test webinar. Make sure you've got a team member who can act as a webinar attendee and follow your link to join at the time of the webinar.

During the test webinar, test the live chat, go through your presentation, and record it if you can. This will allow you to play it back and see if there are any areas where edits or improvements are needed.

Now that we've covered the preparation steps, let's discuss free and tools you can use to host your online webinar.

Free and Paid Tools for Webinar Hosting

When it comes to webinar software there's no shortage of premium tools that you can use not only to deliver your webinar, but also record it so you can repurpose it for later. Aside from premium tools and software, there are also free tools that are suitable for those on a budget or if you're just getting started with webinars. Let's take a closer look at both premium and free webinar hosting:

Benefits of Premium Webinar Software

Premium webinar hosting services have several benefits which can include:

  • Integration with third-party services such as email list providers so when someone registers for your webinar, they will automatically be added to your email list.
  • The ability to record your webinar and schedule it to replay on a regular basis.
  • The ability to add polls, questions, live chat, and more.
  • Support for mobile devices so you can run your webinar on your phone or tablet.

In addition to that, most premium webinar software will allow you to customize your “webinar room” to match your branding.

An example of a premium webinar software is GoToWebinar. GoToWebinar is one of the oldest webinar platforms and includes all of the features mentioned above as well as a few other features.

GoToWebinar offers many features to help you host a webinar.

For starters, GoToWebinar allows you to share snippets of your webinar on social media platforms so you can use them as a part of your webinar marketing strategy. You can also have an unlimited number of “practice sessions,” collect real time analytics, have multiple presenters, and more.

It's worth mentioning that the pricing for premium webinar software usually depends on the number of attendees and can get pricey the more popular your webinars become and the more people register and attend.

Benefits of Free Webinar Software

The most obvious benefit of free webinar software is the fact that you don't have to pay for it. Free webinar hosting is a great solution if you want to give webinars a try, but aren't sure if they'll become a regular part of your marketing strategy. It's also a great option if your budget is limited.

Another benefit of using free webinar software is that by keeping your costs low, you will see a bigger profit after the webinar since none of the sales revenue will need to be spent on webinar software.

An example of a free webinar tool that you can use is YouTube Live Streaming. Let's talk about why you should choose YouTube Live Streaming for your webinar:

Why You Should Choose YouTube Live Streaming

YouTube Live Streaming has several benefits that make it a worthy contender for hosting online webinars.

  • Almost everyone has a Gmail account, which automatically gives them a YouTube account as well. This means you don't need to sign up for an account with another service and neither do your attendees (as is the case with some premium webinar platforms).
  • You can have an unlimited number of attendees, as anyone can join your webinar and start watching.
  • You can use various addons, which make it possible to have live chat, polls, and other features found in paid webinar tools without paying for a premium.
  • You can set your webinar to be public or private if you need to share it only with a few people.
  • Your webinar will be automatically recorded and saved to your YouTube account, which allows you to repurpose it for later.

How to Host a Webinar for Free Using YouTube Live Streaming

Setting up your webinar with YouTube Live Streaming is easy. Simply follow these steps:

Step 1. Set Up a New Event Using YouTube Live

To begin your setup, you'll want to sign in to your Gmail account and visit YouTube. Once on YouTube, hover over your account name and select Creator Studio. You'll then want to click on Live Streaming and select Events.

Setting up an event in YouTube Live
Select Events to set up a new webinar.

The next screen allows you to enter your event title, select the time and date, provide a brief description, and decide on the privacy settings for your webinar. Keep in mind that if you set your event to Unlisted or Private, the live chat option won't be available.

Once you've entered all the details, click the green Share button to create your webinar. If you've never uploaded a video or used YouTube Live, you'll be prompted to verify your YouTube account, which will also allow you to stream for longer than 15 minutes and make it possible for your webinar to be published to your YouTube channel.

Step 2. Familiarize Yourself With Hangouts on Air

YouTube Live Streaming will deliver your webinar using Hangouts on Air. Before your webinar, it's a good idea to create a practice event and familiarize yourself with the interface.

Hangouts on Air interface
Hangouts on Air is how YouTube will deliver your webinar.

As you can see from the screenshot, the top bar allows you to enable and disable your camera, control the bandwidth settings, and mute and unmute your microphone.

On the left-hand side, you'll notice the option to show live chat so you can interact with your audience. There, you'll also find the button to start sharing your screen so you can use your slide deck.

There are also links at the bottom of the page that allow you to share the link to your webinar or embed it on your website. This is a great choice if you want your webinar participants to have a more branded experience as you can direct them to your website to view the webinar.

Hangouts on Air link settings
To start the webinar hosting, click the Start broadcast button.

Lastly, click the green button at the bottom of the screen to actually start broadcasting your webinar.

Step 3. Broadcast Your Webinar

Once you've got everything ready and your webinar date is here, it's time to go live and broadcast your webinar. To do this, go back to your YouTube channel, navigate to Creator Studio > Events and press the Start Hangout on Air button.

You'll then see a new screen popup, Google Hangouts will finish loading, and you'll then be able to press the Start Broadcast button like you did with the practice webinar.

Step 4. Download Your Webinar Recording

After your webinar is done, you can download a recording of your webinar and repurpose it. A few options include a paid workshop that can be bought as a digital product or training on a specific topic, a downloadable video that they get after they opt into your email list, and more.

You can also share the link to your webinar with those who registered, but didn't attend, so that they can watch a replay.

More Webinar Hosting Resources

If you want to learn even more, check out one or more of our articles and tutorials on webinar hosting:

You're Ready to Host a Webinar 

Hosting your first webinar seems daunting, especially when you take into consideration everything that's involved. However, with a little preparation, planning, and the right tools for the job, you can simplify and streamline the entire process.

Using YouTube Live Streaming is easy and straightforward, not to mention it's a good way to host your webinars when you're just getting started and you're not ready to make a financial investment into a paid webinar software. Use the tips in this article to guide you in the process of how to host a webinar for free so you can make sure it's a complete success.

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