How to Decide Between Self-Service and Full-Service Webinar Platforms - dummies

How to Decide Between Self-Service and Full-Service Webinar Platforms

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

As you consider webinar platforms consider this dining scenario. Sometimes you want to eat in a restaurant where a gentleman dressed much like a penguin serves you everything you desire at a whim. Other times, you feel like picking up a tray and making your way through a long buffet line.

Whatever you decide depends on your needs and budget at the time. It’s the same for choosing a webinar level of service.

If you’re tech-savvy and have a manageable plan for your webinar, you may want to do it yourself. Other times, you’ll relish the value of the webinar equivalent of that penguin that served you earlier. It all depends on the situation, but consider this advice: When it comes to external audiences, there should be nothing that limits your reach to them — not geographical boundaries, time zones, or technology.

The first two — geography and time zones — are clearly out of your control, but when it comes to the latter, there’s a wide list of issues to consider to make sure your message gets out to the audience. These range from cross-platform device support to making sure the user is familiar with the webinar tools.

Basics of self-service webinar platforms

Can you run your webinar yourself? More than likely, the answer is yes. Here’s why. When you’re a presenter dialing in to a telephony system, or using your webcam, you can usually do that by yourself, especially for small to medium presentations. There’s no need for your webinar provider to do anything. Most providers sell subscription packages for those who want to handle their webinar themselves to reach their audience

On the other hand, if you get into a more complex situation where, for example, your presenter is on stage at the convention center, and you need a camera crew out there, you’re going to need to tap into a provider’s full-service options. You can still run it yourself, but you may warrant some help.

There’s a perception that a webinar can require a lot of help to pull it off. A DIY solution like ON24’s webcast Elite is easy-to-use and requires minimal support, but not all webinar providers are created equal. You want one that can train you and help you to run it yourself without a hitch, but that offers help just a phone call away if you get into trouble.

By doing it by yourself, you clearly reduce the number of heads needed to put it on. For example, the producer and moderator, or maybe the presenter and the moderator, are often the same person. Often, these self-service presentations have a single person moderating, presenting, and managing the Q&A. That means you can even run the entire webinar from your desktop in front of your computer.

Basics of full-service webinar platforms

The alternative to staying at a roadside motel for the night and eating pizza you bring back to the room for dinner is checking into a luxury hotel in a big room with a real down comforter on the bed, and then having room service bring you lobster and a glass of champagne. Self-service gets the job done, but full-service provides much more support, fewer worries, and more comfort.

A full-service provider offers peace of mind because every part of the webinar is done for you. That means you get access to numerous features and have a team backing you when it comes to training and monitoring the presentation. Sometimes they even moderate the event.

All you have to do is supply the content. And if you’re not comfortable speaking, they can even provide a professional speaker for you. A typical package provides help in the background, but generally you do it all yourself, and seek assistance when needed.