Hosting webinars can be hard, especially the first time (believe us). It is crazy how often we repeat the same mistakes just because we don’t have internal checklists.
Sometimes those small dummy mistakes can cost you a lot and completely ruin your efforts.
We decided to give the ultimate checklist to setting up a webinar. Be sure to check all those parameters before your start. You’ll thanks us later ;)
1. Your environment: the basis of your webinar setup
Check your surroundings before going live with your webinar. This part is rather easy to fix if you plan enough ahead, and you'll really have only yourself to blame if things go wrong during your live webinar because of environmental factors.
a. Pick a quiet spot
The environment is the number one factor that people usually overlook. Pick a quiet meeting room to settle with your team (e.g if they have moderation roles).
Make sure you are confortable and that you will not be disturbed by external noises, people entering the room, etc.
For a really perfect webinar room, make sure it's well isolated from external noises. You don't want your webinar attendees to wonder about who they hear in the background or be disturbed by the noise from the street.
b. Make sure you have enough light
In video as in photography, lighting is everything.
It will impact how you look, the quality of the video, and how your company looks. The better the light, the more professional it will look.
Also, you don’t have to invest in fancy equipment. Just pick a room with enough natural light coming in. Make sure that the source of light is not behind you to avoid backlighting.
c. Have a branded setting (optional)
You have the first two steps checked? Great!
Now if you have a wall behind you with your brand on it (e.g stickers) then it’s even better. Your setting is your ally, it will help you promote your brand.
Actually any piece of advertising behind you can be a plus.
d. Design the background
On a webinar, your background is almost like a second presenter: people will notice it greatly.
If you can, try to have some decorative elements. Bookshelves, a sofa with cushions, any goodies or toys will go a long way in making your webinar setup look more friendly to your audience. By the way, those are the exact decorative elements we chose for Livestorm webinars :)
2. Technical requirements
a. Is your network « webinar compliant »?
This is the most tricky part of the webinar setup. You should check this parameter early on.
Sometimes, in some companies, even startups, the network is so secure that it won’t let pass specific protocols for live streaming videos.
For example, if you are using Livestorm, our technology requires some specific router ports to be open. An easy way to check the quality of your network is to run a test of your internet connection: Tokbox Precall.
This will test everything, from webcam and microphone to your internet connection.
How does the connection look on all servers? All green? Then you're almost halfway there. Be sure to also check the "Expected Call Quality" section, as it provides more in-depth analysis of your setup for a smooth webinar. You'll be able to see if your current connection can support a hd webinar streaming or if you need to find a more reliable one.
If there are red crosses and it's apparent that you can't even access the servers to run your webinar, send that link to your IT team so they can check it out for you and open the ports you need on your network to host your webinar.
b. How is your Internet speed?
Everybody hates a bad Internet connexion. Specially when you’re live streaming the webinar! Nothing worse than having your bitrate drop, seeing participants complain that they can't see your presentation well or can't hear you well... Fortunately, you can also prepare for that to make sure your internet connection is stable and reliable all the way during your webinar.
To prevent any issue:
- Make sure you have at least 5Mbps in download and upload.
- Stop any application on your computer that requires too much bandwidth (torrents, Google Drive app, scripts…).
- Connect with your ethernet port rather than Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is a wonderfully practical technology, but when it comes to reliable live stream video, you may want to go with an ethernet cable for the added stability.
c. Are you using a modern browser?
No, IE11 is not a modern browser. Unfortunately. There’s two scenarios to consider:
You are the host or a co-host Then you are probably going to stream either you webcam or your screen (or both!).
Then you need a browser that supports screen-sharing and is WebRTC compliant. Here’s the list:
Safari does not support screen-sharing and many video streams. IE, even Edge, does not support anything. Although, both could work using a third-party-plugin that embeds WebRTC. But as a rule of thumb, you should not use those browsers unless you absolutely have to (ie: beause of company policies).
You are an attendee This is the safest place to be. Almost any browser will work. But, again, the safest list is:
We also support IE, Safari and Mobile on compatibility mode. This means your viewers will still get a 720p webinar stream, but the layout will be slightly different and the overall experience won't be as great as it would have been on the 3 browsers mentioned above.
PS: If you are not using Livestorm, and your current solution is a native app, then those issues don’t concern you.
d. « 1-2, 1-2, Mic test »
Check your mic and camera. You would not believe how annoying it is to have a beard scratching your EarPods mic!
Just do a quick test using our free video chat tool Livestorm Meet. Just hop on a call with a teammate and see how it goes. It relies on the same technology as your webinars, so if it works on Meet, it'll work on your Livestorm webinars.
...And double check if you are using an external mic or camera…
e. Do you need any browser extension?
Does your app requires any browser extension for screen-sharing? If yes, then download it before.
Btw Livestorm requires such an extension if you want to share your screen, you can find it here:
3. Screen setup & Keynote
a. Quick notice
Unfortunately not all browsers and apps behave the same way. Here are a few tips before we start:
- You cannot switch between screen-shares, you have to shut your screen sharing off before changing to the next.
- You cannot screen-share a keynote app in full screen. Keynote just doesn't work like that. But we found a trick… More on that below.
b. Do you have a keynote AND a demo?
This is a tricky configuration. It forces you to stream your entire screen. As soon as you switch between apps (e.g Keynote, and Chrome), everybody will see your other apps while your transition between apps.
BUT there is a way. There’s always a way. This setup requires two computer screens (e.g laptop + external).
Let’s pretend I have a a demo and a keynote. Here's what you need:
- One computer screen with your Keynote in full screen
- One Chrome window open in your laptop with your demo ready
- And of course, another Chrome window open with Livestorm (or any webinar app)
- (Optional) A third external screen (#nerdAlert) with your notes or your team chat
Then the rest is pretty straightforward:
- Start streaming your Keynote app.
- Once you’re done and you want to move to the demo, switch your screen-sharing off.
- It will fallback to your webcam. Make your demo announcement.
- Turn it on again, and this time share your Chrome window with the demo.
- Do your thing!
That’s it. No weird transition. Perfect webinar :)
4. Avoid awkward moments
Last small checks and you’re good to go. Those checks can avoid awkward moments:
- Turn off your notifications (on your computer and your phone, you don't want to get distracted during your live webinar)
- Clean that browsing history. You NEVER know. When you do a demo don’t let that come in your way.
- Clean your desktop. You don’t want it to look messy.
Conclusions on the ideal webinar setup
Getting things right on your first webinar is never easy. Heck, sometimes things will go wrong even for experienced customers who have run dozens of webinars in the past. But using a complete webinar setup checklist will go a long way in preventing issues and going towards a smooth session.
We hope this helped you. Let us know if you have any comment. If you think of something else we should add to our webinar setup checklist, please share!
In the meantime, keep on live streaming :)