Yadhukrishnan TM shares his research on the different webinar platforms that exist today and his current favourite tool.
2020 has been one strange year for many of us in India, starting off with mass protests against the highly controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill followed by violent riots in Delhi and now fighting the global pandemic - COVID 19. We have shifted to new modes of working and being; and are still trying to find our ways through this historic period. Many of us in the sector have been building our livelihood and careers around our ability and talent to produce public live events. With the new norms of social distancing and the complete nationwide lockdown in place, we at the Art X Company, could not think of any alternatives but to embrace the virtual world to keep continuing the work we do. We shifted our public events to the format of webinars and with that came the task of choosing the right platform for our needs. From our limited experience in researching the various platforms available to host a webinar, we have shortlisted a few for you.
1) Zoom - A name you might have been hearing a lot these days. Zoom is a video conferencing and webinar hosting platform which is easy to work with. At the Art X company we host a lot of live talks as well as discussions and this was the platform that gave us the ability to continue to do so without compromising on the quality of the content or the experience. With a very engaging user interface for the attendees, a robust and easy to use software, not much can go wrong while hosting a webinar on Zoom. You can host free and paid webinars, record sessions, create registration forms as well as generate reports and analytics of the webinars that you hosted, much like hosting a live event. 2) Google Hangouts Meet - One of our oldest friends and a platform most of you would be familiar with, Google Hangout Meets, suits the beginners perfectly. Though not a premium webinar platform, it comes with a lot of simple and easy to use features for its users. You can do your video calls, share screens and it has a chat application built into the system. If you have a GSuite account, Google has rolled out some cool new features upgrading all their users, doing their bit on the fight against the pandemic. These upgrades means all GSuite users can now access features typically only available in the Enterprise edition of G Suite and this will be available to all their customers until July 1, 2020. These features include larger meetings for up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100K viewers within your domain and record meetings to Google Drive to share with those who cannot attend the meeting. 3) Go To Webinar - This platform is ideal for those of us who have large audiences and those who need to communicate with them regularly. If you plan to have multiple sessions in a day, we suggest you check out GoToWebinar. With three different plans, GoToWebinars covers all kinds of needs of an event organiser. Not to mention the 7 day trial period free of charges that the platform offers. Here is a resource read from them on how to organise and plan a webinar in 8 weeks. (Their resource reads are pretty awesome) Note - The pricing tilts a bit towards the heavier side 4) Blackboard Collaborate is the go to webinar solution, if you are in education. If you would want to teach your students through workshops, through seminars or any other such formats, Blackboard Collaborate lets you do so. With live whiteboard and screen writing, online classrooms and an awesome chat feature, Blackboard Collaborate is best fit for students and teachers alike. The best part however is you do not need to download an app or add a plug-in, you can access it completely from your browser. 5) Demio - One of the leaders among the available webinar platforms and it works completely on the browser. With Demio, you get access to interesting features like hosting automated webinars with live chat functionalities as well organising a completely live webinar experience. Demio comes with features that would particularly interest organisations with a strong focus on marketing through their webinar. The features that the platform offers include signing up for a ‘series of webinars’ that are being hosted on the platform to live replays. And the best part - Demio is offering a 50% discount for NGOs and schools who have been forced to shift to online modes of working.
Note: At the Art X Company, we do have a clear favourite after hosting three successful webinars during this lockdown on Zoom. We are also in the process of hosting an AMA on Hosting a Webinar on Zoom soon. Till then, if you have any queries - please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.