Being on a shoestring budget doesn’t necessarily mean that your projects have to suffer. Hosting a web conference is absolutely possible, even on the meagerest of budgets, but you’ll want to follow a few tips before you get started. Whether you’re budgeting to save for new equipment, or just trying to keep your spending in check, here’s how to successfully hold web conferences on a shoestring budget.
Decide What You Need to Achieve
The first thing you want to do is to decide the scope of your conference. What is it you’re trying to achieve from the conference? Is it an informational conference? An educational one? These key differences will help you decide how much you can spend and which service(s) you should employ to host your conference.
Part of hosting a successful conference or meeting of any sort is having a plan. This can come in the form of a meeting agenda, which will help you allocate time to various topics, assist you in ironing out your guest list, and set a time limit for the entirety of the conference. A meeting without an agenda can quickly spiral into chaos; leaving everyone confused and/or distracted, and costing you more time.
Remember that time is money, so plan for your meetings and conferences to be as short as possible while still conveying any necessary information. Allocate time limits to each subject, and within those time limits, include slots for questions and comments afterward. Alternatively, you can choose to save all questions and comments until the very end of the conference.
Decide Your Spending Limit
Web conferencing will cost money just like any other communication service, but there are plenty of options to choose from for any budget. Before you make a choice, however, you’ll need to identify your actual spending limit for the conference itself.
Put together a number that reflects positively in your budget, but that is also reasonable for when you decide on a provider. Obviously, you can’t just put down “five dollars” and expect to find a professional conference service to host your meeting. Once you know the number of attendees and the length of time you’ll need to host the conference, you should be able to come up with a realistic number before you search for providers.
Once you’ve narrowed down a few providers that match your conditions, compare their features and pricing to make the best decision. Don’t forget to take a look at customer reviews to learn about their customer service history as well as their pricing structure.
Decide on a Provider
Once you’ve put together all of the factors we’ve previously mentioned, you’ll need to pick a provider. Hopefully, you’ve narrowed down a provider that has an excellent reputation for service, and a pricing structure that fits within your budget for the service you need.
If you’re stuck between two providers, the deciding factor can often be their customer service reputation. If you have two similarly-priced options, but option A has a far greater customer service record than option B, you’ll want to choose option A every time. There is no price on good customer service!
Host Your Conference
When you host your conference, it’s important that everyone in attendance understands that you’re on a time limit. Email your agenda to the guest list a few days in advance, so that everyone in attendance comes prepared to discuss the issues you’ve presented. Disorganization or unpreparedness can only serve to derail the conference; so keep things in order and everyone informed for maximum efficiency.
The less time you spend in your conference, the more efficient it is. You’re paying for the conference service, so you want to get the most out of it. This is why creating a guest list is so important for any kind of meeting. The wrong attendees at a meeting or conference can distract and potentially even disengage other attendees; creating problems and bringing you closer to your time limit. Trim your guest list to include only those people that must be there.
Ask for Feedback
What’s the one free thing you can get from your conference? Feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask those in attendance what you did correctly or well, and what you could work on. The more feedback you gather, the more efficient your conferences will become. Therefore, your conferences will be cheaper in the future as well, since you’ll be so great at planning them for maximum efficiency.
Feedback can be gathered in a few ways; you can have everyone respond to a post-conference email, or you can include a link to a survey in the web conference chat bar. Asking for feedback can be a bit intimidating, but just remember that any criticism isn’t personal. Criticism (presented in the correct way) is as valuable a currency as one can have in the professional world, as it promotes reflection and (hopefully) growth.
Hosting a web conference on a shoestring budget doesn’t have to be a financial or logistical nightmare. The more you plan, compare providers, and iron out the details, the more efficient, and therefore cheaper, your conferences will be to host. If you’re struggling with finances, a financial advisor may be able to help. These professionals will help you plan out a more efficient budget month-to-month.
Be sure to ask for feedback, and always compare customer service records as well as prices when comparing brands. After all, there’s much more that makes a company a great company than just how much money it makes.