A webinar is a web based seminar and just like the physical ones, a lecturer or series of lecturers chat to the audience on a given topic and usually, the audience are not allowed to talk back except in a very limited way. The online version is pretty much the same except the audience can be in their thousands and not have to leave the comfort of their homes. However, hosting a webinar can be a very expensive business and the more people who want to see and hear what is happening, the costlier it gets for the host.
There are benefits though. The host gets and interested audience and because they are interested (at least initially), the host gets to pitch a product or two in the course of his talk. Very often though, getting a recording of the event for a replay will cost extra and if money is tight this often gets left to one side. But there is an alternative… And it’s free. Google+
For those of you who haven’t heard of it or have only heard in passing, you might be asking what is Google+. The unkind might call it a cut down rival to Facebook, although in some ways it can do more than Facebook can. Like Facebook you can link up with people (put them in your Circles) and join groups (Communities). You can tell people about your day, show them pictures and videos and have them interact with you. You can even instant or remote message people. But there’s more.
You can throw in a Skype like aspect and do audio or video chats (Hangouts) but the big extra, especially as far as lecturers and marketers are concerned is Hangouts on Air. Like the standard hangout it’s video or audio but the huge plus is that it attaches itself to YouTube and does a video dump of the whole thing. Now this can be private or public – as with all YouTube videos, so you don’t have to worry about putting your private calls all over the internet. You can set up the Hangout on Air in advance and tell as many people who want to be there either the Google+ link (if they already have a Google account) or the YouTube link and they can watch it all, as it happens. And the cost? Zero. It’s a webinar for free.
Yet even this barely scratches the surface of a Hangout on Air. The host can invite up to 9 other co-presenters and they can be called in by the lead host as required. The audience can ask questions in a sidebar so that the presenters can see them. The host can also add live web links into the sidebar as well so the audience get to see them and be ble to click them rather than having to scribble down a carefully read out URL.
You want more? Here it is. Not only do you get to see any of the presenters (selected by the host), any of them can show their desktops and therefore show off any documents or programs that they can run – Live demonstrations can sell things so much better than a written review. And as stated above, the whole thing ends up on YouTube for anyone to view later, so the replay aspect is taken care of.
There can be as many people in the audience as can get on their computers at the nominated time or it can be kept as a private one to one tutorial and the resulting video will be the same. Individual tuition has never been so easy. YouTube viewers (and thereby embedded video viewers on a website) will experience a 30 second delay (conversion and propagation time) over people who are directly on Google+ or Google Events, but they probably will not notice anything if they are not told.
Video and audio requirements are minimal so any decent laptop should be able to cope, although most people who do webinars on a regular basis do highly recommend a decent microphone. People will tolerate broken video so long as they can hear the audio properly. A good USB microphone can be has for less than $100 and you only need to go the distance for a shock mount and boom arm if you intend to do this sort of thing on a regular basis.
So now there’s no excuse for not hosting sales and training webinars left, right and centre. The cost aspect just went right out of the window and the amount of things you can do with a Hangout on Air will probably inspire you to rush out and make a start now. You don’t need to book time in advance as you don’t actually need an audience at all.
Do a Hangout on Air by yourself for your next product review, training video, braindump explanation or a presentation. Once it’s complete, you can download it from your YourTube channel, do any editing you think is needed and convert it to your favourite video format. Delete from YouTube and sell it as your new product – The world is loving video products at the moment.
Leave it up on YouTube and insert it into your next blog post. People watching it from your website means they’ve stayed longer which is great SEO. There are so many uses that I haven’t mentioned that will probably occur to you as you read this.
For an excellent tutorial on how to use Google Hangouts on Air look at Hangout Cash Evolution as it explains it all really well, by using Hangout videos of course.
Add your comments below on how you would use a Hangout on Air. Have you already done one (some), tell us all how it went and what you might do differently another time. Share your experiences and let us all become slightly better video presenters.
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