How to Set up and Host Live Webinars

Estimated reading time: 4 min

We run a monthly podcast for one of our clients which has become fairly popular in it’s respective industry. This is a relatively new ability we’ve learned and as with everything we do, we’re happy to help others learn to do it as well.

To be clear, when we say webinars or podcasts we mean live audio and video feeds (much like radio if it had view-able PowerPoint slides!) which are broadcast over the internet for everyone to view. We record these broadcasts as we do them and give that recording to viewers afterwards and post them on YouTube or SoundCloud.

Create you own webinar

Very recently we got a tweet from a sports coach wanting to start holding webinars and we answered. We arranged a Skype chat, walked them through the programs and techniques we used and introduced them to other possible solutions we found along our journey of developing a quality podcast.  Here’s a summary of our advice.

Our process

We use a combination of the program xSplit and the website UStream:

  • xSplit – recording a webcam or a computer screen is a simple process today, but controlling that recording is an entirely different thing. The FREE program xSplit provides users with multiple “scenes” which operate like a powerpoint presentation. Each “scene” is like a slide in powerpoint and can be customised with images, live screenshots, webcams and more. It also takes audio directly from your computer and microphone, if one is attached. The program can broadcast to multiple sources and can directly record to your computer as a separate option for making videos. While it is only Windows OS compatible (so no support for Mac computers) it provides a lot of flexibility and control to the user.

  • UStream – when you are broadcasting you need a destination and a place for that broadcast to be viewed by others. We use our paid account on UStream with ads removed to broadcast our live viewing. UStream gives us a way to communicate with our viewers as well via a text based chat beside the video as it plays.

This set up makes it easy for viewers to watch as we just need to send them the link to our UStream account while we take care of the broadcasting and content. With other solutions you may need to download programs, make accounts or have to send attendees passwords. We have tested some of those solutions and for a wide audience and age range they proved too hard and presented barriers to attendance.

Other solutions you could use

Many of these solutions add a level of difficulty for either us or our viewers to join a webinar that we broadcast. However they may suit your needs better than they suit ours:

  • Google Hangouts – the Hangouts system created by Google is amazing. It allows you to broadcast your computer screen or your web camera to a live stream (then instant recording) on YouTube. For others to view directly they can watch from YouTube. If you’d like to chat to viewers however they would have to join your Hangout and thus disrupts many of your functions. You would have to mute each attendee if you want to talk and then you could communicate with them via text chat. It works but is cumbersome in it’s design. On the other hand it is a free solution without ads and  is simple for basic internet users to learn.

  • Downloadable webinar technologies – there are meeting simulators that can be used effectively to run webinars such as GoToWebinar or Anymeeting. These solutions are often paid, require you and your attendees to download a program and are designed primarily for corporate use. They will take some training to use (especially for your viewers) but the technology is great. If you’re a businessman looking to run online meetings or training sessions this solution is a great way to go. [only problem with Citrix GoToWebinar solution is the meeting invite does not adjust timezone to the recipient’s calendar]

Now that you’ve got access to the tools, you can start exploring the world of broadcasting and build yourself a webinar! If you’re less technical, or would like to put all of your effort into the quality of the webinar, we’d be happy to take the broadcasting task off your hands. Contact us for more details on these technologies or for a quote on what it would take for us to set up and run your webinar.

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