Free web conferencing tools:

Google Hangouts: To run a Google Hangout simply requires a device with a webcam and microphone – there is no subscription required. There is also a useful ‘Text Chat’ functionality for speakers and attendees, which organizes who will speak next, for answering private problems/questions and for general ‘behind the scenes’ discussions. While Google Hangouts is for private Group Conversations, the Google Hangouts for Air function gives you the choice to integrate and broadcast live to YouTube as well.

Skype: Skype to Skype calling lets you make free calls online for up to 50 people (49 plus you!) for audio or video conferencing on any device.Skype offers some great features including being able to share your desktop or mobile screen, the ability to drag and drop files and to record your meetings. You’ll just need to make sure your other attendees are registered on skype before they can join a call.

Zoom: This is a great option for running calls/workshops for large groups. The addition of their breakout room functionality means that you can have a large group together for some of the session and then move into smaller virtual discussion groups, sometimes facilitated and sometimes independent of a facilitator, to dive deeper into content, experiences and insights. There is a free option that comes with some restrictions (limit on 4 participants and 40 minutes sessions).

Live streaming events and conversations:

Facebook Live: Facebook Live is a quick and easy way of broadcasting a live video to your Facebook followers. You can interact with viewers in real-time: field their burning questions, hear what’s on their mind and take a look at their live reactions to gauge how your broadcast is going.  Facebook also offers a very handy e-learning module on how to use Facebook Live to connect with and engage your audience.

Streamyard: Streamyard is a live streaming tool that allows you to Interview guests, share your screen, and much more. Stream directly to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other platforms. You can apply branding to your virtual session and you have comment functionality so you can ask people to respond to questions as you present. It automatically saves the recording to a designated Youtube channel, which is great if you’re doing a series of virtual learning sessions or participants want to watch again/catch-up on a live session they may have missed.

Crowdcast: Connecting the world through conversation. Host live talk shows, webinars, Q&As, summits and more.

6connex: Host a virtual trade show, job fair, summit, and even establish an e-learning program for your organization.

Hey Summit: Infrastructure ‘wrapper’ to turn webinars and pre-recorded content into a larger event. Requires another webinar software for any live content.

Demio: Simple, no-download webinar experience for your audience and marketing tools you need to generate better results.

RingCentral: Traditional webinar style. Renders recordings very fast.

Twitch: Twitch has become a powerful streaming platform for much more than just gaming, and already has a lot of the social features you’d want for a virtual event built-in.

Youtube Livestream: Easy way to livestream on desktop, mobile, and the YouTube app and reach your audience in real time.

Shindig: Enables a host to give a video conference, lecture, seminar, interview or media event in front of an online audience of thousands. Hosts can share the stage for face-to-face interactions with audience members before the entire gathering or sidebar with participants privately. 

Tips for running virtual events

  • Teach the technicals. There will be technical challenges for your attendees – make sure to give them time, and plenty of guidance on how to get set up with your tools and technology. Create content and guides specific for your event vs relying on the tools help docs.

  • Plan, prep and practice. There can also be technical challenges for you, especially if attempting to stream live content. Plan out ahead of time exactly how everything will run, then do practice-runs with your speakers, partners, and anyone else involved in creating content. You can also consider pre-recording your content to ensure there are no streaming issues.

  • Decide if you’ll offer recorded content. A lot of virtual events record the content and make it all available after the event. Keep in mind, if you mention that recorded content will be available afterwards, it can affect the number of people who show up for the live event. But it also gives you the opportunity to continue to collect signups and improve the reach of your content after the event is over. 

  • Set ground rules. For group calls and discussion groups, set ground rules upfront about what the format will be, when to speak, and how to contribute, so you don’t get a lot of people trying to talk over each other, and everyone has a chance to contribute. You’ll also want to set ground rules for any chat spaces you create about what people can or can’t use those spaces for. They can quickly devolve into promotions and negativity if you don’t have rules in place.

  • Create a dedicated networking space. What makes the best conferences and events so special isn’t always (just) the (hopefully awesome) content, talks, presentations etc. but also (quite often: even more so) the hallway conversations, the socializing during breaks etc. When designing an online event, I’d put special emphasis on trying to figure out how to create similar opportunities in an online setting.

These suggestions are taken directly from:

Keeping your community connected in real-time

WhatsApp: WhatsApp is great because it’s quick, easy and most people find it very intuitive. It supports simple text messaging, voice messaging, sending pictures and files and a large number of your community will likely have WhatsApp downloaded already. This article has some great tips on how to run a successful WhatsApp Group

Facebook Groups: Many of you are already running Facebook Groups but if you have not yet set up a group, learn how to do it here. Here’s some best practices for how to build an engaged Facebook group. For example learning how your group behaves using the analytics/insights section to help you understand things such as what time of day to post to drive maximum engagement.  

Slack: Slack describes itself as the ‘smart alternative to email’. Slack gives users the opportunity to instantly connect within organized, dedicated channels. The benefits of this are that conversations are organized, it’s more simple to follow conversations and you can choose which conversations are most important – and which can wait. Slack can be used to manage your Leadership Team across specific projects, as well as being leveraged to support individual Circles too.

Useful websites/articles/blogs