How to Hold a Webinar on Your Mac

webinar

Time was, creating and hosting your own webinar was a complicated, cumbersome undertaking. But oh, how far we’ve come. These days, holding your own webinar is a snap. Here’s how it’s done.

Got something you want to share with the world? A subject you’re knowledgeable about that you’d like to teach to others? Maybe you read Robin’s How An App Is Made article yesterday and it’s inspired you to share your own expertise on the subject? Perhaps you’ve invented a cool new iPad accessory and you want to put together a brief instructional video. Or maybe your relatives come to you with their tech support questions, and you’d like to teach them a few basic things to keep from getting asked the same stuff over and over.

Whatever your reasons, recording your own webinar is something anyone can do. Thanks to the technologies and services we enjoy today, it’s almost laughably simple. Here’s what to do.

1. The first step might actually be the hardest — though it may not sound that hard. Your first move is to select a webinar service provider. I mean, sure, you could do it without a provider if you’re a computer genius. But for most of us, using a provider lets someone else take care of all of the complicated stuff, so we can focus on the webinar’s content.

There are jillions of webinar providers out there (okay, maybe just dozens), but picking one is a simple matter of matching up your needs with the options they provide. Some of the best known webinar providers include FuzeBox, GoToMeeting, Webex, and many more. And yes, they’re all Mac-friendly. You’ll want to compare features like ease of use, bandwidth speed, maximum attendee numbers, customer support quality, and of course pricing. A comparison site like Best Webinar can help you shop around and make the smartest choice. Some of these providers even have apps in the App Store, should you want to hold your webinar using your favorite iOS device instead of your Mac.

2. Options from here will depend largely on which service you pick, but most of them start you out the same way: by helping you set up your first webinar. Typically, you’ll create a name and write a description of your webinar, and then set the date and time it will take place. (If you’re recording your webinar as on-demand content instead of holding it live, most providers will give you options for this, too.) There will also be toggles for adjusting your privacy settings, user registrations, and how you want to interact with your audience during the webinar. You may want them to send you questions via text chat, for example, instead of audio or video.

3. I strongly recommend creating your slides or files ahead of time and uploading them to your webinar provider early, well ahead of your chosen date and time. Best to have those things in place, on the webinar host’s server, than have some sort of connection issue arise at the last moment. Most webinar providers will accommodate just about any file type you want to use during your presentation, including audio, video, images, and Keynote or PowerPoint slides.

4. Now comes the fun part. It’s time to send out your invitations! Again, the webinar provider will provide options for this, but my experience has been that inviting people to a webinar in person always generates the best results. People get emails about all sorts of things, and stuff in their Inbox gets forgotten. But we remember things we experience for ourselves, people we meet and shake hands with and talk to. People we look in the eye. Take advantage of the online invitation system provided by your host, but don’t rely on it as your only means of creating an audience. Also be sure to post links to your webinar on your website, blog, and social networks.

iMac FaceTime camera

iMac FaceTime camera

5. It’s webinar day! Most Mac users already have FaceTime cameras built into their iMacs or MacBooks (or even iPads), but if you’re on an older machine, you’ll need to acquire a webcam and connect it to your computer. When the appointed time comes, login to your service provider and start the show. There will be clearly marked “Begin” and “End” buttons that let you start and finish the webinar, and other controls you’ll need as you go along are right there inside the host’s software — such as communication controls and toggles for your slides or other content.

A couple of last-minute tips:

  • If you’re holding your webinar live but would like to archive it for on-demand users, there will probably be a “Record” button somewhere in the software. Be sure and click it before you start!
  • Hold a rehearsal a day or two before your webinar. This not only prepares you for your performance, but it gets you familiar with your provider’s software.
  • Remember to smile when you’re on camera! Nothing kills a great presentation like projecting a sour personality — even when you don’t mean to.

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