As a business owner, we always need to be in the loop. There is always the need to communicate, and to communicate effectively. Not being to provide information or respond at the right time using the best medium, including a webinar software, could make or break a business deal.
For one-on-one communication, I’ve been using my phone and Skype. When I need to deliver information to many, I usually use Facebook to post on my groups and pages. (See how I outsource doing that here.) Now that I need to deliver my Systems and Outsourcing course, I was prompted to find a communication platform for interactive group sessions and webinars. This is totally different as I would need to be talking rather than typing, would be presenting lessons rather than information tidbits, and as the sessions are scheduled, I need to provide real value to my audience.
I outsourced this task and asked my VA to look for the best platform to deliver the course launch. Here are the criteria that I used:
- I need to have at least 10 participants.
- I want to share my screen and also have a webcam cast of myself in the bottom corner of the screen.
- Whiteboard function would be a bonus.
- I want participants to be able to write questions and comments throughout the screencast.
- I needed to record the audio and video.
- Ability to have a 2-hour session if needed.
- I also needed remote desktop (if I was going to use the same platform for 1-2-1s).
Based on those considerations, she began the search. We already have an idea what the most common platforms are being used based on experience, but we needed to confirm, so she first turned to Google for a list of these platforms. We found this article at the top of the search results, and it mainly confirmed that Google Hangouts, Join.me, and Zoom are among the more popular webinar tools.
This tool is a completely free option for anyone who has a Google account. This is both a strength and limitation. Strength because it allows for quick and easy integration with other Google apps and services like Google Calendar, and Gmail. The downside of this is that it is not usable for someone who does not have a Google account. If any one of your audience does not have a Google account, you would have to create it for them.
Google Hangouts is also readily available for any Google user that has a webcam and microphone. It also has the screen-sharing feature and automatic focus on the person doing the talking during the conference call.
However, another limitation is that Google Hangouts only allows 10 people in a single conference call. This means that it is not really made for webcasts. Nevertheless, a workaround for this being commonly employed is recording the call and uploading it to another platform for everyone else to watch.
Unlike Google Hangouts, Join.me is a webinar tool that does not require account set up for anyone who wants to join the meeting or conference. A participant only needs the unique meeting ID to be able to access the webinar.
Join.me has third-party integration, such as Google Suite and Office 365. It also offers 5GB cloud storage for recordings, but it is less likely that this will be consumed in a single session since it does not have HD quality video. It also allows screen-sharing, mouse and keyboard control, meeting control, whiteboard annotations, and text chats. It costs $18 per month per user.
Zoom is like Join.me and more. A participant only needs a unique URL to join the conference. This can be used on either a mobile or desktop app. It also has third-party integrations with more apps than Join.me’s. It has HD quality video recording capability as well.
This tool only has 1GB cloud storage, but has full integration with Dropbox. It is also the cheapest option for only $14.99 per month per user.
We, therefore, chose Zoom over the other two, and if given a second option, we would definitely use Join.me for the simple reason that we do not want to bother with the set up for the participants who do not have a Google account.
If you are planning to use only the basic features of Zoom or Join.me, here’s a list of what they can offer for free:
|Call length||40 minutes||Unlimited|
I now use Zoom and have found it to be excellent quality for both audio and video (far better than Skype). The controls are a little tricky to find the first time but once you get the hang of it, it’s a great piece of software. It is a perfect tool for one-on-one calls (especially due to the remote desktop function), small group meetings, and even for webinars (at an additional cost).
Have you had any experience using any group meeting or webinar platforms? What did you like and did not like about them? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.