Now that social / physical distancing demands that we stay at least 2 metres / 6 feet away from each other, the idea of meeting for a conference or a convention is no longer acceptable. But, how do we continue to exchange ideas, develop industry knowledge, share information, and learn about new products?
The industries are all simultaneously migrating to an online solution so delegates can connect remotely. Is it perfect, no, but it appears to be the best solution at this time.
Conventions had already morphed the physical and virtual aspects both being leveraged and some found this approach valuable. Others held to the old school strategy to gather in some city, meet at a gigantic convention complex, stay in hotels, fly in overcrowded airplanes, and pay for premium priced dinners. Personally, I never found this to be a very joyful experience, but I did enjoy meeting friends and colleagues again and learning new things.
The shift to the online venues has issues that are now compounded by the shear mass of newcomers using these tools. It is important to understand that these online conference tools are very different compared to online web meeting tools. Online conferences on the web are largely broadcast events that use the web as a media for larger audiences. Whereas, web meeting tools are commonly designed for smaller audiences and are richer due to greater interactivity, meaning they are two-way communications. The web conferencing tools are typically one-way tools.
Web conferencing tools are often simply called, ‘Webinars’. These webinar tools offer:
- The ability to stream video / audio to various platforms and adjust for the device the users wish to engage with whether it is a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone
- They offer delegate management capabilities that can dovetail into customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to build databases of delegates
- These webinar tools can send alerts, reminders, updates, and other timed messages to the mass audience to get the events top of mind and the delegates fully engaged
- Importantly, they can facilitate multiple hosts so the webinar administrator can easily switch presenters on demand and control the flow and pace of the events, including access to the slide decks and collateral materials
- Branding and logos can be applied for brand recognition and watermarking streams in case people are capturing the event’s content and plan to share it later
- Similar to switching presentations, these webinar tools offer screen sharing so presenters can access ‘other’ content beyond showing a PowerPoint deck
Using webinar software is undoubtedly one of the best ways to interact with your leads, engage with them, and move them further down the sales funnel.
However, hosting live webinars can be challenging. I am sure we have all experienced either a poor internet connection, getting booted out of a meeting randomly, or forgetting to click that Record Meeting button.
The best webinar software makes it easy to record, share, and follow up with your prospects without any difficulties or downtime. These webinar tools are almost always accessed with short-term contracts from a cloud-based service provider. So, they are services and not normally tools that a company purchases and owns. Unlike web meeting tools that are often provisioned as a longer term service or owned by the businesses themselves.
An excellent webinar tool for small business should help you deliver live high quality video and audio. This can help you automate your sales process and engage with your Marketing – Qualified Leads (MQLs) with live training, product demos, and more.
Most video conferencing tools also comes with features like built-in surveys, polls, email marketing software, live-chat features, automated webinar sequences, live-streaming, and more.
These automated webinar sequences are excellent for hosting evergreen content like online courses, podcast interviews, or employee on-boarding videos.
- Adobe Connect
- Google Hangouts
As an example, let’s consider BigMarker, often seen as the industry leader. It offers four different access plans – Starter, Elite, Summit, and White Label where they brand to your logo instead of their branding.
The first three plans cost $79, $159, and $299 per month respectively. The White Label plan is an enterprise-level plan, where you get a personalized quote based on your requirements.
The first three plans allow sequentially 100 attendees and one host license, 500 and two host licenses and 1,000 and four host licenses.
Their live streaming capabilities are where they really excel. You can engage up to 10,000 people at once and create an interactive experience with features like polls, handouts, and live Q and As.
There are also no limits on the number of presenters in the webinar – literally anyone can hop in and join the discussion on screen.
To host these live events, you’re provided with a suite of marketing tools, including custom email invites, registration landing pages, and helpful reminders.
With their automated webinars, you can integrate BigMarker with your CRM software to qualify prospect and generate, nurture, and convert your leads.
Every plan comes with features like in-depth analytical tools, pop-up offers, email templates, contact & list management, embeddable webinars, custom URL, and more.
If you’re looking for a webinar tool to run live events, workshops, town halls, and keynote presentations, BigMarker is a great choice because of their interactive video features and seamless performance.
So, remember, for larger audiences, you need a webinar tool, but for smaller audiences, less than 100 participants, your own web meeting tools are likely suitable.
As a parting comment, remember what famed writer Mark Twain taught us, “No sinner is ever saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon“. I use this quote as a reminder to keep meeting content on point, brief, and richly engaging, or else you risk “Death by PowerPoint”, which is never a good way to win over an audience or share new ideas.
Enfroy, A. (2020). 17+ Best Webinar Software Platforms (Free Guide for 2020). Retrieved on March 25, 2020 from, https://www.adamenfroy.com/best-webinar-software
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. A recent contract was with Wirepas from Tampere, Finland as the Director of Business Development. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.