Obviously you need web conferencing software to run your webinar. And it’s possible that your audio conferencing company provides an online interface to manage the telephone conference. But what other software applications might make it into your virtual toolkit for working with webinars? Here are a few that I have found useful in various situations.
1) GoldWave. This is one of the top three audio editing tools available, and it’s the one I use for all my digital audio editing. One of the great advantages is that it is ridiculously cheap for what you get. There is a lengthy learning curve... I still discover new features and best practices from time to time. You can edit down to infinitely small parts of the audio waveform. You can do batch edits and conversions. You can convert and save just about any audio format known to man. I love this software! Unfortunately, I have never seen a training class on the product, and there are a lot of places where the tool assumes you know what it means when it mentions esoteric terms. It looks like I may have just found another business opportunity for myself! Would you pay to get training on this product?
2) GWVoice. This is a plug-in for GoldWave and isn’t any use without the above product. But for working with voice, I consider it a must-have. Although it adds four functions to GoldWave, the reason I use it on every editing job is its ability to automatically adjust volume to create an even balance across the entire recording. Indispensable for GoldWave users!
3) Camtasia. Do you remember the old Listerine ads that said “I hate it. But I use it every day"? That’s how I feel about Camtasia. I hate it. There are all kinds of bugs and quirks and they introduce a new batch of problems every time they put out a new release. And yet I haven’t found any alternative that does as many things as it does, so I slog along and continue using it as my primary video production facility (cursing the entire time). Camtasia lets me record screen activity (including playback of recordings made with web conferencing software), add audio tracks (my edited digital recordings), resynchronize the audio and video by adding frames and deleting others, and produce the entire thing to standard video formats such as AVI, WMV, and MOV. This is another product where you face a long learning curve and many new concepts. It forces you to become an expert on audio and video technical minutiae such as key frames, bit rates, and video codecs. Ugh. But it will let you produce audio/video recordings in every possible format.
4) Sinner Egg Timer. This is particularly good for web conferences that use screen sharing (such as Citrix GoToWebinar). It lets you display a countdown timer on your desktop. Great for long sessions where you give participants a break and say you will start again in ten or fifteen minutes. Everyone can see how much time is left. I had previously found this as a free download, but now it costs $12.50. Shoot. Barbara sent me a link to an alternative countdown timer that is free. It works fine, but the display isn’t as pretty or configurable as Egg. Still, it fills the same function and saves you $12.50. [Side note: omNovia gets a special mention and an award as the ONLY vendor I know of that includes this functionality in the web conferencing product. Even better, you can display the timer privately to presenters, so they can see how much time they have left for their section. Sheer brilliance!]
5) EmailMerge4Outlook. This add-in for Microsoft Outlook lets me send personalized emails to a list. Great for responding to meeting registrants or attendees, sending out notices, or anything else that my web conferencing software can’t handle. The learning curve is pretty short on this one. This replaced my previous tool, EasyMailMerge by DS Development. That one was cheaper and I preferred the interface. Then they put out a new release that completely stopped working and crashed Outlook. They have not responded to multiple emails and phone calls to the office number in Romania. Nor have they responded to complaints on their support boards. Stay away from this one. Man, I’m angry at them.
Do you have other useful software tools that you use in the course of your webinar operations? Add a comment and let us know about them!