Tips for Hosting Your First GoToWebinar

Webinar

When I first made the switch from WebEx to GoToWebinar, I read how-to guides, watched video tutorials and perused user forums to prepare for my first session. Those things all helped, but some of the most important lessons I learned came from actually hosting (AKA making mistakes during) my first couple sessions. Read on for some important things I learned that can help make your first GoToWebinar a success.

Do a Practice Session (Or Two or Three)

GoToWebinar allows you to hold an unlimited number of practice sessions. Take advantage of that feature because practice sessions are a great way for you to get comfortable using GoToWebinar. Invite any additional presenters to one of your practice sessions so they can get a feel for the interface and know what to expect the day of the live session, too.

Starting a practice session is easy. Log in to your GoToWebinar account, click “My Webinars,” then click “Practice” under the webinar you’d like to practice.

Run the PowerPoint from One Computer

If you have more than one person presenting during your next webinar, your best bet is to combine everyone’s presentations into one deck and control the entire presentation from your computer. This might sound like a pain for you as the organizer, but I’ve had issues with these two other options:

  • Switching to another presenter: If I’m sharing my own screen and then switch to another presenter as illustrated below, that presenter can then share her screen. However, I’ve found that that the transitions between speakers are always really sloppy. Basically, your audience gets kicked back to the webinar lobby while you make the transition. Personally, I think it’s more professional for the presentation to look seamless. GoTo_ChangePresenter
  • Giving keyboard/mouse control: GoToWebinar allows you, as an organizer, to give keyboard and mouse control of your screen to someone else. The thing is, if you move your mouse or type something, it overrides the other person’s control of your screen. So essentially, if you designate someone else to control your screen, you’ve got to sit on your hands until they’re done presenting.

GoTo_KeyboardandMouse

If you do opt to run the entire presentation from your computer, be sure to pay close attention to your presenters’ cues. You might even want to ask them for their notes in advance to make sure you get the timing right.

Designate Another Organizer to Handle Questions from the Audience

Controlling the PowerPoint and answering questions coming in from the audience is a recipe for disaster. For one, if you’re busy answering a question from someone in the audience, you might miss your presenter’s cues to advance to the next slide. In addition, though your audience won’t be able to see the actual question and answer box and what you’re typing, they will be able to see your curser clicking around all over the place, which can be pretty distracting. Make things easier on yourself by asking someone else in your organization (who has an organizer license) to handle the Q&A.

Avoid Excessive Animations and Transitions

I know it’s tempting to pepper your PowerPoint presentation with fancy animations and transitions. But keep things simple. A few transitions here and there are fine, but too many animations in your PowerPoint presentation can come across as choppy, especially for the folks in your audience who have slower internet connections.

Set the Registration Limit

GoToWebinar can accommodate up to 1,000 attendees. But by default, the registration limit is 10,000. If you don’t want to deal with a bunch of angry folks who have registered for your webinar but aren’t able to get in the day of the session because you’ve reached capacity, set your registration limit to a lower number. I usually set it at 50% higher than the maximum attendance. You obviously have a better idea of the registration vs. attendance rate of your webinars, so adjust accordingly.

Remember: Like any piece of software, GoToWebinar has its share of quirks. I’ve been using GoToWebinar for about nine months, and I still learn something new (aka mess something up) just about every time I host a session. So remember: take a deep breath, be ready to think on your toes, and don’t sweat it if something isn’t perfect. Good luck with your first session!

Do you use GoToWebinar? What tips do you have for newbies?

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