Friday, February 22, 2008

Your Own Webinars Made Easy

How would you like to make online presentations to hundreds of your employees, customers, affiliates, franchisees or business prospects? That's normally a large enterprise undertaking. But now there's a tool that makes it easy and inexpensive for small to medium businesses and even individual entrepreneurs to get into the Webinar game. Here's how this can give you really cost effective communications leverage.

First of all, what's a Webinar? A Webinar is simply a Web seminar. You've no doubt been to dozens of professional seminars over the years. They usually involve spending a lot of company money taking a plane across the country, staying in a hotel and watching slide presentations in a darkened auditorium. The downside to these lavish productions is that they cost a bundle to put on and each company has to limit employee attendance because they cost a fortune to attend.

What the online service GoToWebinar offers is a way to more quickly and easily host seminars on the Web without the huge price tag. That means you can have many more seminars and invite a lot more participants. There is also a "green" benefit in that no jet fuel is burned bringing in presenters and participants. You simply use the computing and broadband resources you already have.

Here's how it works. As a Webinar organizer you sign up for an account and install a small amount of software on your computer. This takes a couple of minutes. By the way, there's a free trial so you get to play with the system before you have to commit any money. Once you have an account, you can organize your Webinar, invite attendees by email and host the event. Participants don't need any special software or registration. Everything displays on a common Web browser.

What GoToWebinar allows you to do is present your slides or other information that is on your desktop or application window. You can have multiple presenters who can present from their computers to the audience. You can also have panelists who can respond to questions from the participants. This is starting to sound like a real seminar, isn't it?

By the way, there is both an audio and video aspect to these Webinars. The audio portion is by telephone conference call that accompanies the desktop presentation. You can elect to pay for the calls or let the participants pay the long distance charges to call-in.

Here are some other features that really enhance the Webinar experience. During the Webinar you can launch audience polls and conduct an online chat with the presentation on the screen. Your dashboard will also allow you to gauge audience interest and view participation.

Once you get started with Webinars, you may wonder if the old school seminars are really worth the cost. The cost savings is dramatic, to say the least. Plus so many more people can participate. It's much easier to fit a Webinar into your schedule than plan a business trip.

GoToWebinar is a product of Citrix Systems, Inc., an industry leader in this type of business productivity tool. GoToWebinar hosts Webinars for up to 1,000 participants, the equivalent of a very large meeting hall. The tool also includes GoToMeeting, which is suitable for smaller team meetings of up to 15 participants. There's a monthly or annual subscription fee. For that you can host all the Webinars you want. Use them to train employees, launch new products, conduct sales seminars or get valuable feedback on your ideas and proposals.

Interested in trying this productivity tool? Get a free trial of GoToWebinar now.

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