gtw-basicsA few months ago I needed to quickly come up to speed on using the GoToWebinar platform for a client. Webinars are all the rage these days, so this was a nice bit of knowledge to get into place and I was happy for the opportunity. So, as I typically do, I am sharing the results with you.

The platform

GoToWebinar is the webinar platform from Citrix — the same folks who bring us GoToMeeting. There are other platforms out there too, such as Zoom, WebEx, and I’m sure a dozen others. I chose GoToWebinar because this is what the client suggested, but I get the idea that it has its pros and cons just like any other platform. What I mean to say is: I offer this information on how to use GoToWebinar, but I am not implying that it is a better choice than another platform. Your mileage may vary.


I put all of this into a presentation and here is a PDF of it that you can download, complete with screenshots galore.

I organized the presentation into three sections:

Setting up the webinar:

This section shows how to fill in the forms to set up the date, time, presenters, etc. In addition to what is discussed in this section of the PDF, as you set up the webinar you will also see a place where you can put up to 5 files that your attendees can download during your webinar. This is great for brochures, reference sheets, and a PDF of your presentation.

Promoting the webinar:

This section assumes you know all about the importance of promoting your webinar to get attendees and jumps directly into how to get your registration link and how to set up the auto-emails that the GoToWebinar platform sends out.

Conducting the webinar:

This section provides your map to the GoToWebinar Control Panel, which is the tool that the organizer uses to conduct the webinar. But first: PRACTICE!

Practice makes perfect — one hopes

Unless you and every one of your panelists have used this tool many times before, never hold a webinar unless you have held at least one practice session at least a few days before the actual webinar. If your main presenter has an issue with his headset, wouldn’t you rather find that out in a practice session? Here’s what I recommend: Even though the GoToWebinar has a “Practice” feature, instead set up a new webinar session (call it “Practice” or really anything), add your panelists to it, and just proceed as if it is the real webinar. Better safe than sorry!

Bonus tips:

And to top this off, here are some extra tips that you should edit as you see fit and send to all your panelists before your next webinar:

  • AUDIENCE: Identify exactly who your audience is long before you start putting your presentation together, then target this particular audience.
  • PRESENTATION: Identify what your messaging and goals are before you outline your presentation. In your finished presentation, have an attractive title slide so your video will start with the title. Have calls to action on the last slide, such as “subscribe to our newsletter” with a shortened URL (remember that people will have to type that in, they will not be able to just click it.)
  • SCRIPT: The organizer should have an outline or script of what needs to be said to introduce speakers and instruct attendees on how to submit questions, etc.
  • SCHEDULE: Start broadcasting about 10 minutes early. This will make it easier for those users who want to call in early and just multi-task until you start. Tell your panelists to dial in (on mute) at least 5 minutes early so that, if they have issues, they have a few minutes to recover.
  • MUTING: All panelists and organizers should experiment and learn how to mute and unmute themselves. Always stay on mute except for when you are speaking. When you are not muted, attendees will clearly hear you breathing, writing, and especially eating and typing.
  • POLLING: If you plan to conduct polls during your webinar, be sure your panelists know when you plan to have the polls and what the questions will be. (Be strategic! Check in with others in your company to see what would be valuable to learn from your attendees!) Let your panelists know that they won’t need to do anything during the polls, but that it will interrupt the screen-share.
  • VIDEO: Don’t forget to hit the video record button! After your webinar, post your video online.
  • QUESTIONS: Have a few seed questions ready for your Q&A session just in case. The questions you get at your webinar can be great fodder for an online FAQ. It is best to assign somebody other than the organizer to deal with the questions (make that person a co-organizer). One simple way to manage this is for this person to read the question and then the panelists answer it. The organizer can do this, but there is enough going on that it can get complicated.
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