There’s a lot to choose from these days, but the good news is that the vast number of providers (65 last time I googled) have created a competitive marketplace. Many now offer free versions or at least free trials, so you can get stuck in without a financial commitment.
There are a few things to consider, the first being functionality of ‘Meetings’ vs ‘Webinars’. A meeting is a collaboration between all participants whereas a webinar is a one-way transmission to your attendees. However, there is some overlap in the software functionality so for small webinars, a ‘Meetings’ subscription with the ability to mute and turn off participants’ webcams can quite often do the job. If you are planning larger webinars and would like more host controls, then you will need more a more expensive webinar solution.
Next, consider how many host accounts you need and how many participants are you hoping/planning to attend? Both these factors can blow the price of what seems to be a reasonable subscription right out of the water when you dig a little deeper, so be sure to peruse the next subscription tier when you are buying so you know where you’re headed when your requirements grow.
For the sake of those around you, for clear audio in your ears and no feedback from your speakers, wear headphones (or a headset). They don’t have to be fancy, your Apple headphones, or similar, will do the job.
Microphone & Phone
If you are planning on using VoIP (computer audio) then test out your mic options. You may have an in-built mic in your computer, or your headset/headphones may be sufficient once again. If you are serious about audio quality then it’s worth investing in a separate microphone, this does not have to be expensive, there are decent mics out there for less than $100.
Always, ALWAYS have your phone handy as well, along with the meeting number and access code if required. If your Wi-Fi plays up, you have two options to quickly get back on track before your participants abandon ship:
1) Use your Personal Hot-Spot to re-connect to the meeting.
2) Abandon VoIP and call in on the phone instead.
My preference is always VoIP, if the connection is working well the audio is crisp and clear. The phone is more stable, but the quality is not as clear – you can tell when someone is presenting over the phone.
Seeing each other face-to-face online has become the new norm, however, I still think webcams are optional for webinars with slides. If you are comfortable on camera then great, it helps people connect with you and what you’re saying. But if you aren’t then don’t, and don’t worry – instead, make sure you include a headshot at the start of your presentation so that your participants can put a face to the voice. Another option is to briefly show your face during the welcome chat and then turn off your camera for your presentation.
As for attendees, unless you are having a collaborative meeting, or the participants are familiar with each other, I prefer to leave them off. It’s distracting to see people moving around, eating lunch, or even doing the housework (go the multi-taskers!)