Every week our mailbox is filled with at least one email in regard to a webinar. But what exactly is a webinar? What is so significant about it, that it has evolved as the buzzword of almost every industry which has its presence on the online platform?
In the simplest form,
WEBINAR = Web + Seminar
The webinar can very well be defined as the event held indicatively on the internet and attended characteristically by the online audience.
This very feature of the webinar is also what differentiates it from a Webcast, which can be attended by offline audience too.
These 100 percent online events permit the event host to hit out to a large group of target audience via PC, Tablet, Mac or Smartphone, heedless of their venue. Live webinars can also be viewed later on in form of recorded broadcast.
The webinar is the unparalleled online communication tool wherein polls are used to meter the opinions and live chats are done with participants on real time basis.
Webinars ensure that through their characteristics of polls, chats and call to action the target group is able to comprehend the message very acutely thus nailing down new opportunities for the speaker of the message.
Essentials of a webinar
For the participators of the webinar, the presence of the internet and any form of the favorable quality headset like headphone or microphone is vital.
For the presenter of the webinar, access to the internet, good quality webcam, headset and a webinar hosting system is a must.
To ensure a graded quality and effective broadcasting, the presenter needs to pay particular attention to the webinar room where the event is to be hosted and to the headset.
Apart from all this, one needs web conferencing software or the webinar tools to share the screen, record the meetings, collaborate on real time basis and for any other betterment.
Free Webinar Tools
Today webinars are used by a substantial number of bloggers, marketers, developers and small business houses to reach out to their target audience seated in remote locations.
The motive behind the webinar can be educational, professional, entertainment or media.
Talking about the webinar tools or web conferencing software, there are two options: paid software and the free ones.
If the individual has a small scale business or has recently started a business, the finances always work in a tight mode and hence, free options are always the most preferred ones.
When I mention the word FREE, it means ABSOLUTELY FREE, and not free for just a limited period.
Don’t worry, you need not click on a new tab to search for these free options because we have done the intensive groundwork to come up with 22 absolutely free, fruitful and the best web-conferencing tools.
So save on your legwork and just go through the provided options to choose the one which best fits your space.
BIG BLUE BUTTON
Built specifically for higher education, Big Blue Button as a free high-quality web conferencing tool enabling the universities and colleges to decipher quality information and education to university students seated in the remote location. This active open source project targets on modularity, usability and clear design on the side of the user as well as participants.
Big Blue Button is a composite of fourteen open source compartments and is hosted at Google Code.
This is a tool with regular updates from an active developer community which ultimately makes it powerful webinar software on a regular basis.
Big Blue Button has a layer of users and the moderator who sits at the top managing all the participants remotely.
Google hangouts are very common amongst, friends, peers, and customers to connect with them at large.
Easy to use and built within browser the tool provides impressive quality reliable group video chat sessions. Participants are at ease to join or leave the Google Hangout session at any time.
Join me though is not a much-jeweled webinar tool at the cost of nothing, but still, offers the basic essentials of a webinar like a screen sharing and file sharing.
It’s paid version but of course, has all the remedies needed for a successful webinar.
It can very well be used on mobile phones which support iOS and Android version. And surprising one can bring together as many as 250 attendees in a single meeting.
Bring in as many as ten participants at a time and enjoy all other benefits a paid plan would bless you with. One can share the screen or a single application on the desktop with attendees, chat with the others present in the conference room and converse through audio conferencing.
But there are certain flaws as pointed in this free web conferencing tool:
1) The absence of specific web collaborative tool, as found in web conferencing software.
2) No source to upload the files in the conference room or to use the whiteboard.
3) Screen control is non-transferrable.
Mikogo umbrellas three plans, with one amongst the lot being absolutely free.
It is mainly meant for non-commercial applications and is not a suggestive option for satisfying your business needs.
It has a plethora of attributes glued to it and allows a maximum of 25 attendees per seminar.
With Web Huddle, one gets a pack of flexible options. Meetings can be managed either in concoction with an enterprise’s current teleconferencing service or by using Web Huddle’s optional voice over IP.
Web Huddle also has to offer recording capabilities — therefore, presentations can be recorded easily for playback over any web browser.
100% free for one host and one participant. Zoho Meeting permits uncountable meetings and duration, instant and schedule meetings, desktop sharing, multi platform support, and instant messaging.
Zoom is at zero cost for the unlimited number of meetings but with the limit of 50 participants and with the limit set to 40 minutes duration for each meeting.
This free version offers security, online support, and user management.
In monetary terms, Any Meeting is free of cost, but one has to bear the cost of viewing advertisements in mid of the multiple benefits provided by this free web conferencing tool.
And so if you bear with advertisements on your screen and on the screen of your attendees, then you are good to go with the maximum of 200 attendees in one seminar, conference calling, screen sharing, video broadcasting and more.
Vyew allows you to incorporate ten users per meeting. Its free version comes at the cost of ads which the user has to bear with on his and his attendees’ screen.
It does not require any download to be made and hence is counted as hassle free.
TOK BOX VIDEO CHAT
Use of Tok Box requires no rocket science experience. It’s a very simple tool which can be resumed within minutes.
With the help of Tok Box, one can add group video chat on one’s website or blog. Make use of the plug and play application for embedding similar functionality on the blog.
An open source tool which permits up to 25 participants at a time. Apart from supporting voice, video and chat it ensures to provide several other functions like screen sharing, slide sharing, and whiteboard.
If you are equipped with Flash Player, you need not be required to make any other download. But there is a flaw that it does not support playback of recordings. It offers impressive user interface.
Formerly known as Gnome Meeting, Ekiga is an open source Softphone Video Conferencing Instant Messenger online application.
It is ensured with HD level and DVD compatible size and quality.
Free to download and easy to use Ekiga is available for Windows and Linux. It’s user-friendly and offers seamless SIP communication.
Ease of download, use and comfort of setting up conference room through audio or video makes open meeting one of the preferable web conferencing tools.
No limits are set in terms of the number of participants or the frequency of meetings. When using open meeting, there is freedom to share desktop and documents on the whiteboard and also the freedom to record the meetings.
Microsoft Lynch is a unified communication tool with presence management and IM including the collaboration feature. Lync is free but for a limited span of six months which is a pretty good time frame.
Deliver well synchronized real time presentations, web pages and whiteboards parallel to your voice and video sharing on the internet and that too without any download.
You have the freedom to bring in ten participants to the max. This free webinar tool gives you access to one-way video, standard support, DIM DIM branded meeting room and public meetings.
Use Yondo like Google Chrome plug-in. It’s a superb online collaboration and web conferencing tool.
It has multiple features as its USP and ensures and supports a clear web conferencing stream.
Attendees are at ease to join the seminar on real time basis and also the can have easy access to shared resources like screen and files.
It’s a very easy webinar tool even for a layman to understand and use.
Very appropriate for small business owners and freelancers, OOVOO allows a video chat session with participants up to twelve.
Sessions can easily be recorded and shared on YouTube from within the software.
It also has Facebook integration because of which messages can instantly be shared within the network while the session is taking place.
Fuze as a free web conferencing tool supports up to 25 participators in a single meeting.
The meeting arena props 12 contemporaneous HD video feeds, audio conferencing by means of VoIP, desktop and application sharing, and more.
Fuze also gives its users 1GB of free cloud storage space where one can store valuable documents and presentation files for their participants to download later.
But one shortcoming is the inability to record the meetings, for future view at free of cost. If one wants the recording feature one needs to elevate to the Pro plan by spending few dollars per month.
To get started with this free web conferencing plan, one simply needs to enter his/her contact information and download the app. Thereafter he/she can invite the participants and host a meeting within minutes.
GO TO MEETING
With the limit of only three participants per meeting, it might sound a little disappointing; but when one browses through the list of benefits glued to it, Go to Meeting is one of the great free webinar tool options.
There is no need to login or download. One single click on the get started icon is good to go. This one click provides you with the link which will guide you to the meeting room where your participants can assemble.
If you are a user of Google Chrome, then apart from presentations and documents, you can also share the screen. It’s compatible with Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browser. Moreover there, is no barrier in terms of the frequency and duration of the meeting.
If you want to share your screen, documents, and ideas with someone, from any remote location, make use of Yugma as your free webinar tool.
You simply need to sign up at no cost and you are good to go for a web conference with up to twenty participants.
CISCO WEBEX ME
Although Cisco WebEx supports meeting with only three or fewer people, it allows access to all of the WebEx’s coadjuvant tools.
One can see and speak with other participants using the webcam and VoIP, share files and mark them up with the help of WebEx’s built-in annotation tools, chat with participants on one to one basis or as a group by using the chat box window.
It’s easy to download and run the WebEx account. From there on, the user needs to fine-tune the layout of the meeting room to suit the needs and invite the participants.
There is no limitation attached regarding the number of free meetings which can be conducted.
The above-mentioned web conferencing solutions are a craze among several individuals and small business entrepreneurs. Based on your requirement, you may try out each of these webinar software options and conclusively opt for the most user-friendly tool.
Chiefly, these plans are limited by the number of participants you’re allowed to host in a single meeting and every so often by the tools available to free users. This constraint might be some concern for larger businesses, but it works fine for smaller teams or one-on-one session with clients.
But before concluding on any one of these, it’s important to break down in the key business areas of your organization and the motive behind the web conferencing service.
This will make the process of selecting an online conference much easier and help you conclude if a free plan works for you or there is need to upgrade.