In today’s economy, businesses look for ways to save money in every area of their operations, including training. This article looks at the benefits of webinar-based training.

Save time and money

A webinar is a web-based conferencing tool used to conduct live meetings, trainings or presentations via the Internet. Webinars are a cost-effective, time-saving alternative to on- and offsite safety training, especially when a company has multiple offices nationally or even globally. The cost-savings impacts both the trainer and trainees by eliminating the need to travel to a central location. Webinars can also be a great educational tool that allows companies to market their products and services to a large group of people, no matter where they’re located.

Webinars typically combine both an audio (via phone) and a teleconference (via computer) portion. Attending a Webinar is easy — usually all that’s needed is a telephone line and a computer with Web access. Hosting a webinar is more involved, requiring additional software.

Choose the right software

Most webinar software programs allow you to upload PowerPoint presentations and other documents for attendees to view. Some programs allow you to share your desktop with multiple viewers or attendees if you are training or presenting something that can only be viewed on the Web, such as a Web-based module.

When choosing a webinar provider consider whether attendees are required to download any software in order to view the teleconference portion of the webinar. To reach the broadest audience, it is best to choose software options that do not require attendees to be computer savvy.

Does your webinar provider’s fee include teleconferencing or do you need to find a third-party provider to handle that portion of the webinar? Other fees may be associated with webinar services that offer only the Web portion, and this could add to your total cost. Most providers charge a monthly fee for their services, but not all providers require you to sign a long-term contract.

How many participants are allowed to attend at one time? Some providers allow only a limited number of “seats” for each webinar session. If you’re considering webinars to communicate with hundreds of attendees simultaneously, make sure the software you choose allows for that type of capacity.

Search the Web using a phrase such as “webinar software” to bring up several different options. Most sites offer a trial period or a live demo for you to view before you purchase.

Build credibility with customers

Some safety companies offer educational webinars free or at a relatively low cost to the attendee. Offering webinars to your customers is a great way to make them aware of your products and/ or services and to educate them about specific standards that may apply to their industry. For example, if you are a distribution or sales company, you may notice that the customers you visit have repeated questions about certain topics, and these topics may lend themselves to a company-sponsored webinar.

Hosting informational webinars helps establish your credibility in the eyes of your customers. This allows them to see you as an authority on the subject and provides a real added value to the products and services you have traditionally offered.

If hosting your own webinar is not an option, webinars can still be beneficial to you and your company. Remember to check vendor websites and newsletters for webinar topics that apply to you. Technology is only as helpful as you make it.