I recently did my first webinar using the awesome – and totally free – Google Hangouts on Air.
In this post I will share my experiences and give you tips and tricks on how you can leverage the platform and create your own webinars.
Webinars are a fantastic way to connect with your audience. It’s live and you can reply to people’s questions as you go a long. Personally I really enjoy it although it can somehow feel a bit awkward sitting in an empty office and talking into a mic knowing that hundreds of people are listening to your words.
It’s really different from a recorded interview where you’re typically talking with someone else and where it often takes weeks before it reaches an audience.
But hey – I never did school radio either
It costs what?!
The main problem I see with most webinar providers and webinar software is the price.
GoToWebinar that has kind of become a standard in the industry is charging $399 PER MONTH for a plan where you can do unlimited webinars with up to 500 participants. There is a cheaper plan but that only goes to 100 people.
Now this is certainly not the first time I’ve ever done a webinar. More than three years ago I wrote about my experiences using another free webinar platform.
However this platform displays ads to the participants in order to be able to provide a free service.
I actually did my previous webinar on this platform and even upgraded to their paid product (for just one month) however the sound kept cutting up making it a less than joyful experience (for both me and my audience).
Introducing Google Hangouts on Air
So with the sudden introduction of a free product, Google has stirred up the webinar waters.
But what exactly is Google Hangouts on Air you ask? A great question.
First you need to look at the “core” offering: Google Hangouts.
This product is meant as a way to do real time online video meetings or video conference software. In it self it’s an awesome product and as many of Google’s other products, totally free.
So is this the best webinar software out there???
Google is actually licensing the technology from a company called Vidyo and for someone who has been involved in a project that licensed the same technology, I can appreciate that Google is making it free as it is certainly not a cheap product (although I assume that Google are getting some discounts compared to the list price ;)).
But Google Hangouts on Air is where you can publish the video stream from Google Hangouts and publish it directly on to YouTube so people can see the video stream with a small delay (I think mine had a delay of about 30 seconds – so it’s almost live).
You can stream video from your webcam or do a presentation on your computer, it doesn’t matter, you can broadcast it all.
This is really a game changer!
But that’s not all!!!
The entire thing will be recorded and be available directly on Youtube so people can access it after the actual event.
Doing Webinars with Google Hangouts on Air only requires that you have a Google account. That’s it. And in this day and age who doesn’t
But this is all fine, but how does people register to my webinar?
Google only supply you with the infrastructure to do the actual webinar/broadcast. Typically webinar products will also:
- Make it easy for people to sign up
- Register people to your autoresponder of choice
- Send out reminder emails at given intervals before the webinar
You could easily do this your self, by setting up a page with an opt in form that would register the participant with your autoresponder and send out emails yourself.
However there are typically a lot of pages that has to be created besides the registration page, like the actual event page, replay page and so on.
But the good thing is that this is all much easier (and cheaper) to get help with.
WordPress plugin you say? Awesome sauce
Personally I’ve ended up with using the Easy Webinar Plugin that is an online platform with a WordPress plugin so all these different pages are integrated with your existing website.
It’s really an awesome product that makes it super easy to setup professionally looking registration and webinar pages. Not to mention all the automated stuff with sending out reminders.
Another great thing is that you can also use your recorded webinar as “semi-live” webinars, where people can sign up to what they think is a live webinar at certain times.
And the plugin is currently just a “one time payment” that is cheaper than one month of GoToWebinar.
If you want to check out how a registration page look, you can head over to the Webinar registration page that I did a little while ago (this is a recorded webinar that looks like a live one).
My Webinar Setup
EDIT: Jan Koch had an excellent question about my setup below, as it turned into a longer reply, I thought I would add it here.
The problem is that it can be difficult to execute the webinar when you’re running a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation.
You really want to see
- The presentation you’re giving
- Presentation notes (well, you could actually print those)
- Comments from the audience
So in my case I had three screens (using two different computers) displaying just that.
In the picture below you can see my setup where I’ve included my now almost 5 year old MacBook Pro (although the comments are not yet being displayed on it).
This setup enabled me to both execute the presentation, view my notes and read incoming comments and questions from the audience.
However getting questions during the webinar was a bit distracting because you’re doing a presentation and have half an eye on the comments at all time, so the next time I will probably put in breaks every 10-15 minutes and check the question queue.
But what about this WebinarJam thing?
Now let me just say that I have not tried WebinarJam that was launched not long ago. On paper it says that it does pretty much what the Easy Webinar Plugin does.
However it is created a couple big ass internet marketing guys and while the actual product might be good, the typical pattern you see with these kind of big online JV launches (where it seems like everybody and their mother are promoting the same product for a month) is that they build a product, launches it, and then moves on to creating the next product.
In my business I need something that is stable, tried and tested, and will offer support also in the long run. But again… I never tried the WebinarJam product (although I do know a few people that did buy it).
Google has disrupted the webinar business with Google Hangouts on Air
And the good thing is that you can use this technology today without paying a dime. I will certainly use Google Hangouts on Air for my coming webinars and I’m also currently using Google Hangouts for my private coaching program.
Have you used Google Hangouts on Air for your webinar? Or planning to do so? I would love to get your input in the comments.