By Jami Gibson

Each quarter, Whittaker Associates hosts a webinar as part of the Pro Learning Lab, a cooperative effort among Blane Canada, Ltd., the Institute for Decision Making at the University of Northern Iowa, and our company. Since delivering high-quality educational events is part of the Lab’s mission, it is imperative that we use reliable and secure web-conferencing tools.

GoToWebinar (GTW) is a power tool that provides everything we need to create an excellent webinar experience not only for our attendees, but also for us as the hosts. It can support up to 1,000 users per webinar, which is an attendance number we would love to achieve! GTW is also supported by PCs and Macs, and allows users to connect to audio either through their telephone or microphone and speakers on their computer. The HD video conferencing feature also allows the audience to see us in perfect clarity, although we don’t use this feature too often as we screen-share our presentation with our attendees.

The entire process of putting on a webinar starts over a month in advance. We create the content, acquire speakers and panelists, and begin designing the presentation. GTW helps us customize the branding of our webinars and also has full-service registration capabilities to ensure our attendees have all the information they need to access the discussion on the day of the webinar. All attendees and hosts are sent periodic reminder emails before the webinar. Another cool feature for those of us hosting or presenting is the practice session that allows you to familiarize yourself with all the tools GTW offers before actually going live to an audience.

Sometimes we have multiple speakers who present from their computers, and other times the speakers present while we host the presentation from our computer. GTW makes these transitions flawless as we can instantly change presenters during the webinar, or we can just transfer keyboard and mouse control to the presenters to “take over” our computer screen. Users can raise their hands, ask questions, and instant chat during the webinar to join in the discussion. The presenters can also launch poll questions for users to answer during the presentation as another way to engage the audience.

GTW gives the webinar organizers the capability to record the video and audio portions of the webinar and archive the recording for future use. It’s a great way to capture the important discussions and questions taking place and be able to refer back to them. After the webinar, GTW also creates several reports so hosts can see who attended, what questions were asked, and any audience feedback about the webinar.

GTW fits all of our needs to put on a great presentation. What video-conferencing tools do you like to use?