I monitor many news feeds to keep track of the latest webinars and I'm seeing a poor practice that is very, very frustrating. Many companies are issuing press releases to announce that they're going to have a webinar they day before the actual webinar and in some cases - the same day!
The goal of a webinar is get as many viewers as possible and you're not going to that by announcing your webinar to the world the day before it happens. The internet may move fast, but not that fast. You need to give some warning for your webinars.
Why give time?
Well, as people discover your webinar, it will get disseminated across sites like this, across Twitter and other social media sites. These are all great ways to get word out about your webinar. And this word of mouth will happen without you having to actually do it. But quality word of mouth takes time and you will have a better return if you issue your press release with much more lead time.
Also, people are generally very busy and don't have time to fit a webinar in at the last minute. They're more likely to be able to attend your webinar if they have 3 weeks to plan it into their schedule.
How much lead time should you give?
I recommend announcing your Webinar 3 to 4 weeks before it actually occurs. It gives people plenty of time to find your webinar and for it to make the rounds on the internet. It will also sit in the Webinar Central Calendar for an extended period of time, so more casual browsers will see it. Press releases are a great tool to announce your webinar, but it's got to be timely, or you've wasted your time and money distributing a press release.
A good general rule of thumb is to send out your press release on a Wednesday or Thursday - the days people will usually notice something in their e-mail and have time to read it.
My policy when I enter webinars into Webinar Central's extensive database, is that when I discover it, I don't post Webinars that are happening tomorrow. It's not fair to my readers who may not have time to plan a webinar into their schedule on such short notice.
One question I come across the most regarding webinars is where you can host a webinar for free. Currently, the heavyweights in Webinars are GoToMeeting and Webex. They're great services but they are also expensive. Thankfully, there are many free alternatives out there that you can try out. WebEx and GoToMeeting have free trials, but they want credit card info in order to sign up. That's just not cool. So where can you host a webinar for free with little hassle? Remember this Webinar Tip: Test out whatever platform you plan to use, work out all the kinks before holding an actual webinar. This will save you embarrassment and the prospect of wasting people's time.
Free Webinar Hosting Service - Vyew
Free Web Conferencing at Vyew.com is a multifunctional workspace collaboration platform. You can hold webinars, with a conference call in number and have presentations, all for free. With a free account you are limited to 20 participants. They have relatively cheap pricing packages to add more participants. Free Web Conferencing at Vyew.com
Free Webinar Hosting Service - Dim Dim
Dim Dim is the latest webinar platform on the scene. Anyone can host a webinar for free using their free software. You're limited to 20 webinar participants thought. If you want more, though, it sill cost $99 a year. Which is actually a pretty good deal compared to the major players. If you need an easy online web conferencing solution without an installation? Try Dimdim, it's easy, open and affordable. Check out Dim Dim here.
Free Webinar Hosting Service - Yugma
Yugma is an other player in the free webinar plaform realm. They offer free unlimited webinars for regular use. The only catch is you can only have up to 10 webinar particpants. They have pretty reasonbly priced pro options to have more participants along with a pretty cool platform. Check out Yugma Webinar Hosting
Free Webinar Hosting Service - YuuGuu
YuuGuu is a cool new program. It's completely free and it's a cross platform download. It allows you to host webinars and share screens, all for free. It's a great little tool and is easy to use. The only catch is that they charge for the audio conference call function. It's free in the US if you have free long distance, it's costs a bit more for international calls. The customer is billed on their phone bill by the minute. It's not really that expensive. Well worth the cost considering everything else is free. You could conceivably get around the teleconference problem if you use Skype or AIM for the audio feed and just use YuuGuu for screen sharing to show the presentation. This would probably be the best option if you want to have a Webinar with as many participants as you can for free. It will take a bit of work to set up though. Check out YuuGuu Webinar and Screen Sharing Software If you hear about a free Webinar hosting service, please let us know about it in the comments.
I've sat through a lot of webinars in my day. I think they are a fantastic tool and venue to spread knowledge. I like them so much that I want more people know about them and that's why I started Webinar Central. There is so much going on out there that it's a shame if a Webinar isn't at full capacity with people eager to learn.