After trial runs with both GoToWebinar/GoToMeeting and Live Meeting, I choose Live Meeting hands down.
Here is my take on these two services.
GoToWebinar / GotoMeeting
What I Liked:
- The user-interface was very easy to follow and figure out.
-They offer fully integrated tools for promoting your events, tracking registration, sending automated reminders, etc., although not all of the system emails can be customized as much as I would like.
-The fixed monthly fee was very appealing, because it would allow me to budget for the expense regardless of how many webinars I did per month, or how many people attended. I see that as a big bonus for some nonprofits too.
-They have advanced tools to monitor participants during the webinar. For example, you can tell how long your webinar was the top window on someone’s computer and how often they were working on something else.
-GoToWebinar lets you poll the audience live by presenting multiple choice questions on the screen that participants can click on, giving you instant, compiled feedback about what people think about various topics. Several participants in the webinar I did said they really loved the instant polling feature.
What I Didn’t Like:
-The system crashed several times which is a MAJOR issue (and I only had 9 attendees).
- While all the data on participants is nice after the fact, for me, all of those monitors and icons were in the way during the live event. I couldn’t present the webinar and monitor all those panels at the same time, so they were distractions more than anything else.
-Other than sending in chat messages, there was no way for me to know which specific participants had questions or would like to participate in exercises with me.
-To record the webinar for later viewing, I had to record the audio on my own hard drive, and then allow GoToWebinar to integrate the files. It worked OK, but seems fraught with potential for problems. It also took several hours to convert the recording format to something useful such as .wmv. Otherwise attendees would need to download a codec to view the recording.
-The "free" toll audio conference call service HAD MAJOR PROBLEMS. The quality was poor and it dropped callers.
-My attendees called customer service to get help joining and no one answered the phone. It rang for 7 minutes and went to voice mail.
What I Liked:
- The customer service is VERY responsive. We tested Live Meeting through Communique Conferencing. They were extremely helpful with setting up our webinar and also very responsive to any attendees that needed help.
-The “Raise Hand” feature allows me to see the name of the person who has a question, allowing me to ask that person to unmute their line and ask a question or participate in an exercise.
-There was web-based option that uses Java, instead of a program requiring a download (like GotoWebinar), which makes it very easy for everyone to join.
-The audio and video recordings are fully integrated. There was no need to combine separate files. Also, the format is a windows media file (.wmv) which is the most common format.
-The audio quality was exceptional and very reliable. The free computer audio (VoIP) service works very well and the telephone audio was flawless. It's not free like gotowebinar but having an attendee have such major technical problem is not worth saving a few dollars.
What I Didn’t Like:
-Live meeting offers virtually no support for promoting your webinar. Although most people probably have this covered already.
-The user interface is rather sparse. It’s easy enough now that I have figured out where everything is.
Why I Ultimately Chose Microsoft Live Meeting
I decided that Microsoft’s technology works better for my needs than GoToWebinar’s. The reliability and customer support is well worth the price. Live Meeting has also made significant inroads into the corporate and nonprofit community, which means that many of you who will be registering for my webinars will already be familiar with their system.