More and more, presenters are presenting online, using webinar services. So I thought I’d share my experience and maybe comparing webinar services will help you make a choice.
I’ve switched to Zoom! I’ve used GoToWebinar for many years but a friend (thanks, Sheila Finkelstein!) introduced me to Zoom. I tested it for several months and a few months ago I took the plunge — I cancelled my GoToWebinar/Meeting account.
- I was looking for ways to engage more with my audience. That meant more webcam/video
- I wanted to reduce my cost (I was paying $99/month for GoToWebinar)
- I wanted to be able to record the webcam portion of a webinar (GoToWebinar doesn’t)
I also considered Google+ Hangouts on Air along with Webinarjam, which is software that enhances Hangouts on Air to broadcasts give them more webinar-like features. Here’s my story of my experience with comparing webinar services–Google+ Hangouts on Air, GoToWebinar (including GoToMeeting), and Zoom.
Why I decided against Google+ Hangouts on Air (HOA)
A while back, I taught a course on webinars and wanted to show participants how to use HOA. The night before the live course session, I practiced — I often practice — but also because i wanted to do something a little complicated — embed the HOA on my website as it was happening.
The next day, I opened the HOA (about 15 minutes early, because I like to make sure everything is working) and the Embed link was gone! Google had changed the interface. It turned out that the feature was still available, but hidden behind an icon that I didn’t understand.
I survived. Because I had that 15 minutes, I started the HOA early, found it on YouTube, and used YouTube’s Embed feature. A scary moment! But I realized that Google does that. When you pay for a webinar service and they change the interface, they send you an email about it, with tutorials. Google doesn’t do any of that.
Also, HOA works on an account system. Basically, you have a Google account (meaning an email address, preferably a Gmail account) and use that. When you sign people up for a webinar, they often give you a different email and sometimes can’t get in. I’ve seen this numerous times. Zoom and GoToMeeting/Webinar both provide a URL that people use to log in. Once they’ve downloaded the viewer, they can easily log in; their email address is irrelevant.
Finally, I do a lot of screen sharing. The lag in HOA is unacceptable to me. That means that people see what I’m doing after they hear me talking about it. I can deal with 1 second; in HOA, the lag is often 15-20 seconds. (If you embed the HOA on your website, it’s even longer.)
I tried Webinarjam, which is a webinar service that adds webinar-like features to HOAs. It has lots of great features — and I wouldn’t recommend using HOAs without it — but it doesn’t solve the problems of people being unable to get in, the lag, or Google making changes whenever they want.
What Zoom has over GoToMeeting/Webinar
Zoom starts with full-screen webcam. In this way, people see me in a big window, not a tiny one. They can see my expressions and they can focus on what I’m saying. It makes for a more personal experience. GoToMeeting/Webinar is a screen-sharing only program. You always need to be showing your screen, which generally means slides –although you could be showing software or your browser. When you switch to screen sharing in Zoom, then the webcam becomes a small window, but you can move it around as necessary.
Zoom has both meeting and webinar modules. The free and $14.99 versions are for meetings — Zoom shows webcam video of everyone in the meeting (up to 50), with the speaker showing front and center.
Zoom records the webcam window, even when you’re sharing your screen. (You can close it if you want.) GoToMeeting/Webinar doesn’t.
Here are some more advantages of Zoom:
- It can handle up to 3000 attendees with the webinar module — not that I’ve tested that many people! GoToWebinar maxes out at 1000.
- It’s less expensive than GoToWebinar/Meeting, For 50 people in a meeting, Zoom is $14.99 compared to $49 for GoToMeeting. For 100 people in a webinar, Zoom is $64 ($49 + $15) compared to $99 for GoToWebinar
- Zoom lets me do everything I did with G2W/M, including controlling the other person’s computer–great for the 1-on-1 PowerPoint training that I do
- Zoom can do registrationless webinars, letting me do the registration — this lets me automatically add people to my email subscriber list with an email opt-in form on my website. But it can also do the registration for you and you can then export the registration list to import into your email service
Find out more about Zoom here. (This is an affiliate link.)
GoToMeeting/Webinar’s advantage? It has 24/7 phone support. For an extra $5/month, Zoom offers phone support, but I’ve been happy with the email support, which is excellent.
What webinar service do you use and how do you use it? Why is it your favorite? There are lots of other choices — join.me, WebEx (Zoom was created by 2 former WebEx people — I call them ex-WebEx people), AnyMeeting, Adobe Connect, Instant Presenter, InstantTeleseminar, and Zoho Meeting. Leave a comment!
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