In my previous post, I reviewed MeetingBurner. Another popular free webinar solution that I took for a spin earlier this month was AnyMeeting. Realizing the anxiety that free webinar solutions can inspire in potential customers, the folks at AnyMeeting renamed their product from the prior Freebinar. While the name change might improve the image, there are still things you need to consider about AnyMeeting before diving in.
Perhaps AnyMeeting’s greatest feature and greatest flaw is that it is free. The reason it is free is that it is advertiser supported. This means your webinar attendees see a vertical banner ad on the right side of the screen during the webinar. As far as I know, you cannot control the content of these ads. When you’re giving a free webinar, I don’t think this is a major problem. Yes, the ad is a minor distraction but when folks are paying nothing for the information they’re getting, they should be a bit understanding that webinars don’t grow on trees. It takes money to make them and ad support is as good a method as any.
The problem arises when you are giving a for-fee webinar. Now the rules take a complete 180. No one who shells out anywhere from $30.00 to $150.00 to attend a webinar wants to see advertisements asking them to spend even more money. It’s the same reason why you don’t charge money for lead-generation webinars. If you’re giving the webinar strictly to sell something, you don’t charge folks for it. It’s just very bad form. No one wants to pay good money for a commercial. So ads appearing on a for-fee webinar is simply a no-no. AnyMeeting offers an ad-free version that you have to pay for. If you’re giving for-fee webinars, I suggest you opt for the ad-free option.
Now let’s talk function. AnyMeeting has a number of the goodies you would expect from a decent product. You can share your screen (and therefore share presentations, much like GoToWebinar). Folks can listen to your webinar over PC speakers or phone (more about that later). You can run polls. You can record your webinar. You can chat. So AnyMeeting covers the basics pretty nicely.
Here is where I had quibbles:
- AnyMeeting does not offer a white board. But then neither does GoToWebinar. HOWEVER GoToWebinar allows you annotate a blank slide, thereby simulating a white board. AnyMeeting does not have annotation tools from what I could see.
- I recorded my test and in the recording playback, the viewer is not able to see poll results. All they see is the polling question and the possible answers. They don’t see the percentage results that were entered in the poll.
- Ideally, you want to give your audience the choice to either use their PC speakers to listen to your webinar OR dial in via telephone. AnyMeeting cannot use both these options in the same webinar. As a result, for any particular webinar, your audience will only be able to use their PC speakers or dial in. They won’t have a choice. That goes for the speakers/presenters as well. So, let’s say a presenter does not have a quality headset for her PC and wishes to use her phone instead. That means your audience must also use their phones to hear her audio.
- Webinar recordings can only be played back from AnyMeeting servers. They cannot be downloaded and then placed elsewhere. The only way around this is the very clumsy method of recording the playback of the webinar using Camtasia and then using that recording.
Considering my maxim of “you get what you pay for”, AnyMeeting probably stacks up pretty decently. I truly don’t believe, if you’re an experienced webinar producer or presenter that AnyMeeting will blow your socks off. However if you are just starting out in the webinar business, AnyMeeting is an inexpensive way to dip your toe in the pool before you move into the big leagues.