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  1. Computer Skills
  2. Video Conferencing
Computers

Create and Host a Webinar for Free Using Google+ Hangouts

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Blogging, social media, forums—these are just some of the many ways to promote your brand or sell your product online. But if you’re more of a public speaker and want to share your ideas upfront with your audience, you can set up and host a webinar.

A webinar or a web-based seminar is a great way to build your brand and/or promote a product you want to sell online. Unfortunately, webinar software are quite expensive with a steep learning curve to get through. Popular software like GoToWebinar, AnyMeeting, and ClickWebinar charge $30-$99/month based on the number of attendees and features like recordings, ads-free experience, and live support.

If you’re on a shoestring budget but want to get the word out about your product or brand, Google+ Hangouts on Air is a great free alternative. Tied in with Google+ and its suite of features, you can start a hangout and not have to worry about limits on your attendees, ads annoying the heck out of your audience, or paying a premium fee if you only host webinars occasionally.

To get you started, I’ll show you how to create, set up, and broadcast a webinar to your audience using Google+ Hangouts on Air. I’ll be using a Google+ page I created for my blog so you can see how you can create and host webinars to promote and build your product and brand.

Note: You will need a Google account to log-in to Google+ and create a Hangout. You can use a free Google account or Google apps account if you own a unique domain name. If you don’t have any, you can create one here.

Step 1: Create a Hangout on Air

The first step is to create a Hangout on Air through your Google+ page. To do this, hover your cursor over the sidebar, and as it expands select Hangouts.

create a hangout
You can start a hangout using either your Google+ profile or page.

Inside the Hangouts home page, you’ll see three tabs: Home, Hangouts on Air, and Video Hangouts. Whether you’re on the Home or Hangouts on Air tab, you’ll see a blue button to start a new hangout on air. Click to begin creating your event.

add details to hangout
Tip: Make sure to set the event's schedule under the right time zone.

A white pop-up appears where you’ll add all of the details of your webinar. Write the webinar title, the details of the webinar, and select if the webinar will be broadcasted Now or Later. If you intend to host it on a later date, make sure to select the right time zone and the date, time, and duration of the webinar. Finally, you can choose to make your webinar public or exclusive to a specific audience or circle.

When you’re done, click the green Share button to create your webinar.

Note: If this is your first hangout, Google will prompt you to verify your YouTube account. This will enable sharing and publishing the webinar on your YouTube channel. You can then edit and download the video post-recording.

Step 2: Customize Your Webinar With Trailers and Apps

Think of your webinar as an event you want your audience to enjoy and remember. You’ll want to customize your webinar page by choosing an event theme or uploading either a video or photo trailer they can watch before the show starts.

Next, you’ll want to activate two very important apps that are a must-have to any online event: Q&A and Showcase.

qa and showcase apps

A Q&A session gives your audience the opportunity to ask questions and engage with you further. Q&A allows you to accept questions posted by your audience and mark them as answered once they’ve received an answer.

Showcase allows you to send links to articles, websites, products, and other online content to your audience. If you’re selling a product, this is a great way to send people links to free resources, the product page, and other useful info.

Step 3:  Invite Your Audience to Your Webinar

share hangout
You can embed your video hangout using the video embed option.

Once you’ve spruced your webinar page up, it’s time to invite people in. There are three ways to publicize and spread the word.

  1. Invite people manually using the Invite more button under the Viewers section found at the bottom right of the page.
  2. Share the direct link to your event page to interested attendees.
  3. Embed the video hangout to a post or page on your website.

Assuming you’ve done an amazing job promoting and sharing your webinar, your audience members will soon accept your invitations to attend. Once you have enough people attending, it’s time to prepare for the show.

Step 4: Broadcast Your Webinar

You’re now about get up on stage and present your idea or topic to your audience. To ensure that your webinar runs smoothly as possible, make sure your presentation, hangout settings, and and all of the apps you want to use for the presentation are correct and activated.

Click on the blue Start button on the hangout page. This will launch a new window where you will manage the hangout as it is broadcasted. Google will then prompt you to invite guests to join your hangout or video call (you can invite up to 10 people). If you prefer that your audience simply watch your presentation, you can skip this.

To change the default settings or add new apps to the hangout, hover your cursor over the sidebar to your left to reveal the available options.

select a window
Minimize the number of active windows so you won't get mixed up.

Ideally you’d have a slideshow presentation to show to your audience as you speak. To share your presentation, click on the green Screenshare button and select the active window to show during the webinar. When you’re ready, hit the green Start broadcast button to go live.

qa app
This is what the webinar and Q&A session looks like from the audience point of view.

If your webinar includes a Q&A session, make sure to encourage your audience to submit their questions using the Q&A app. At the end of your presentation, you can then click on the Q&A app to see all of the submitted questions. To answer each one, select a question, answer it during the call, and hit the Done button to move on to the next question.

Step 5: Edit or Download Your Recording on YouTube

You’ve successfully completed your first webinar. Congratulations!

If you’d like to share the webinar as a replay for those who weren’t able to attend, go to the Video Manager section of your YouTube account, look for the recording, and click the Edit button to edit your video. You can then choose to enhance the recording, add audio or annotations, or even subtitles.

youtube edit video
Trim, fix, and adjust your video using YouTube's video editing feature.

You can also download an .mp4 copy of your webinar to your desktop, which you may want to reuse or repurpose in the future.

download recording
Download recordings to reuse or repurpose in the future.

Closing Thoughts

When done right, hosting your own webinar can create a massive following for you and your brand, and with Google+ Hangouts on Air you’re able to make that happen for free.

On the flip side, your audience now have a deeper relationship with you as an authority and are much more inclined to support your product or brand, thanks to the great content that you’ve shared with them.

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