Help me put on a really great webinar for 2000 people.
March 16, 2014 2:29 PM   Subscribe

I'm putting on a webinar for a bunch of Kickstarter backers (around 2000), which content-wise will include a 2 hour lecture and some Q&A. While I have a lot of presentation experience (I've given this particular lecture ~ 6 times as a part of a workshop series I run), I've never done anything online like this before and could use suggestions on how to do this well. I'm particularly interested in recommendations for webinar services that can handle that kind of bandwidth, whether it'd be a good idea to hire staff on that day for video/moderating questions, that kind of thing.

A few details: When I do this lecture in person, I have a Prezi slide presentation on a projector behind me and I wander around and talk in front of it. I'm guessing that for a webinar, I'll want something similar, maybe even with a few-person audience so I have someone to present this to instead of just a camera.

I'm guessing I'm going to need two video feeds, one on me, and one on my computer screen. Audio is just me. I'm *guessing* it'd be nice to have someone editing the video live, so that the focus goes from me to the slides and back in a sensible way. And I want the whole thing recorded, so that anyone who misses the live feed can download a copy. Thoughts?
posted by sdis to Technology (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
From a technical perspective, there are quite a few tools that can do this sort of thing. Most simply require you to enable the appropriate features at the right times. I do quite a bit of this sort of thing, but usually not at that scale.

I work a lot with Adobe Connect, and it's capable of doing all of these things. Typically, you'd set it up to share your desktop in one section of the screen, and you'd broadcast video in another section of the screen. That way, you wouldn't have to worry about live video editing, changing focus, etc. Your computer screen doesn't need a video feed in that model.

Bandwidth isn't an issue for services like that.

Handling Q & A can be a bit difficult. It can be useful to have an assistant handling this for you. Many webinars I've seen use the chat UI for this, and that doesn't really work well if there are a lot of questions - they scroll by before anyone can catch them. One feature that Connect has is a specific UI for handling Q & A. It allows users to enter questions, and then those questions can be answered one-by-one or dispatched to one or more people to be answered.

Webex has a lot of similar features. I don't like it as much, but some of that comes down to personal preference, I'm sure. Both Connect and Webex let you record your session and distribute a link or download the recording.

I'm not sure how individuals go about purchasing these for one-time use, though. Typically, for Connect, companies purchase a seminar license that allows large numbers of meeting participants. You might be able to "rent" a seminar license for this.

Alternatively, you could actually do your seminar as just a recording in advance, then just handle the Q & A at a set time - I do this quite a bit for what we call "blended learning" training seminars. To do this, Adobe has a tool called Adobe Presenter Video Recorder (or something like that). It's free for OS X, and bundled with Adobe Presenter for Windows which is about $500. This lets you record yourself presenting whatever is on your desktop, then gives you a track that lets you choose whether to show the computer screen, your video, or both, and allows transitions between these different settings.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:55 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would caution whether you actually want the camera to be on you for a webinar. In the webinars I've hosted and attended, the actual slides are the visual. Videoconferencing can be dicey.

If you go this route, I highly recommend having people in the room to "present" to, and to stand up and pretend you're actually presenting. It will come through in your voice.

As me & my monkey said, it's definitely better to have someone handling the questions. Figure out the logistics of this first. I've only used GoToWebinar to present, but they have two options: either attendees can type in questions, or they can "raise their hand" and you can unmute them and let them ask their questions.

That said, I'm not a huge fan of GTW, and it definitely can't handle the volume your'e looking at.

Speaking of volume, do you have 2000 backers or 2000 people who are confirmed to attend? Typically even with a highly engaged target audience, you'd be lucky if 20% of them attended. 5% is more likely, in terms of email marketing stats. And half of the people who register will probably not attend. I don't mean to be a downer, these are just general marketing figures.
posted by radioamy at 6:45 PM on March 16, 2014

Don't bother having your face on the webinar, just the slides. You can include a picture in your slide deck if you want a personal touch. Webinars are just better when there's no talking head.

WebEx, Cisco Go-to-Meeting are two services you can use for this (although not cheap). They also offer archived services, so you can record your webinar and make it available for streaming on-demand.

Also, it's rare that 2000 people will turn up for a webinar. Pray that they don't, it will be FREAKING expensive if they do.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:43 AM on March 17, 2014

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