Nonprofits and libraries can use webinars for training, sharing information about a new product or service, or promoting a program. There are many tools that make it easy for any organization to host a webinar, even with limited technology expertise. Below, we'll outline some of the major steps you can take to plan quality, affordable webinars at your organization.
A webinar can be a powerful training and outreach tool, but the decision to use a particular tool should be based on your goals and the needs of your audience.
When determining whether a webinar is the best medium for your needs, consider
While webinars work well for some topics, they're not suited to every training need.
You may also wish to solicit the feedback of subject matter experts, other nonprofits that have conducted their own webinars, and even the audience you plan to address. Informal conversations, formal interviews, and surveys can all help you assess whether a webinar is right for you and your audience.
There are usually three main players in a webinar: the organizer/facilitator, the presenter or presenters, and assistants.
In most cases, you should at least divide up the organizer and presenter roles. For large, complex webinars, you'll often need an assistant or assistants.
Below are some popular formats you might consider:
|A single presenter speaks, demonstrates, and answers questions from the audience.
|Fewer people to coordinate and train on how to use the webinar tool.
|Lack of variety in voices and perspectives.
|Interviewer asks a set of predetermined questions.
|More people to schedule, train, and coordinate.
|Moderated Panel Discussion
|Multiple people on the line at the same time, with a moderator facilitating the discussion.
|Offers a variety of voices and perspectives.
|Audience members participate fully via instructor-led exercises and facilitated conversations.
|If done well, participants receive a deeper understanding of the topic because they're fully engaged in the dialogue and the exercises.
Because webinars rely on audio and visuals to get the message across, both should be engaging. Plain slides with a lot of text don't work very well. Here are seven ways to make your presentations more engaging.
Some slides you may wish to include are
Dozens of web conferencing tools exist.
When weighing your software options, here are a few questions to ask:
Most tools and pricing plans set a cap on the number of participants. For free and low-cost web conferencing packages, the cap is often as low as 15 or 20 participants. Other plans limit you to 50 or 100, while enterprise-level packages allow 1,000 or more participants per webinar.
Some packages are free. Other vendors charge for web conferencing and audio separately, some charge per participant per minute, and others charge a flat fee per month or per year. When you add in the fees for hosting recorded webinars and the cost of a toll-free telephone number, the pricing schemes can be complicated.
Do you want to just show a presentation or demonstrate how to use a specific piece of software? Would you like your participants to be able to take control of your desktop? Do you want a live video feed of the speakers? Make sure you choose a tool that allows you to do what you want.
Some products offer integrated, web-streaming audio, which allows participants to listen to the presentation through their computer speakers or headsets. Other webinar platforms require that participants and presenters dial in to a special phone number.
You usually have two options for this:
Finally, many webinar platforms offer you both web-streaming audio and dial-in phone options. You can choose to enable one or the other, or both.
If so, ask how the webinar vendor handles recording and whether the vendor charges extra to make that recording available online. Most vendors charge for storing the recording online, rather than the recording feature itself, but you should check to be certain.
You will also want to ask what exactly gets recorded. Some tools record the slides along with audio, but don't record the chat conversation or the desktop sharing. Vendors also vary in terms of how long they save the recording. Some delete it after a month, whereas others save it until you delete it yourself.
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Tapp Network is a marketing & technology firm serving nonprofits and organizations seeking to accelerate their social impact, capacity building, and revenue growth for good.